Shawn Rubin is a founding faculty member of the Highlander Charter School and is currently the Director of Blended Learning at the Highlander Institute. With over 10 years of experience at various grade levels, Shawn is one of the top edtech educators in New England. We asked Shawn a few questions regarding edtech and this week’s LearnLaunch Across Boundaries Conference. Find out what he had to say below!

What is your favorite thing about working in education?
Student empowerment! As educators we should be weaning students off of their need to learn through us and empowering them to get out into the real world and make things happen for themselves.

What are you looking forward to most about the LearnLaunch 2015 conference?
Networking with people that I respect, but only get to see in person a handful of times every year.

What advice would you give to someone who has never attended the LearnLaunch conference?
Approach people and ask them questions in between sessions. Don’t hang back and think that anyone is unapproachable. Take the opportunity to have that face to face conversation that you’ve always wanted to have.

Why should someone get excited to attend “The Rise of Personalized & Blended Learning in K-12” where you will be a panelist?
We are entering an age where learning can no longer be limited to the knowledge that our teachers have as gatekeepers to the classroom. The skills that are necessary for success are immense and expanding every day. Blended Learning allows educators to identify any skill, create a scope, sequence, or order for learning and mastering that skill. It allows educators to evaluate that skill at any level. It then allows the student to continue to grow in their mastery of each skill without having to wait for permission from the teacher or the coordinated movement of their grade-based group.

Blended Learning gives students the power to learn any thing, any time, and any place that they like. This is the only thing that will keep students engaged in our education system.

What panel/speaker/person aside from your panel are you most excited to see? Why?
Beth Rabbit! She has one of the most comprehensive understandings of what’s happening nationally in the blended learning space and I learn something new every time I speak with her.

What do you think is one of your biggest challenges in delivering on edtech’s promise? What do you think would help you solve this challenge?
One of the biggest challenges right now is that we are relying too heavily on teachers to change everything through their practice without enough support from district and state leaders. Teachers can only do so much.  If we truly expect for teachers to implement blended learning, then districts and states must meet them halfway by supplying the formative measures and content necessary to carry out the model.

One solution that would help teachers, districts, and states would be for edtech companies to do a better job of having data interoperability protocols or open APIs so that products can more easily speak to each other. One-off solutions will not solve the challenges that are holding back our classrooms.

What is one prediction for something new you see happening in education technology within the next 10 years that we should be aware of?
OER content (Open Educational Resources) is essential for blended learning to take off in the coming years. Sites like Khan Academy and YouTube are being leveraged by individual tech-savvy teachers, but what’s needed is more content that is better organized, free, and aligned to national standards. Students will never be able to move down their own path and at their own pace unless we have a well tagged resource library that teachers can tap easily to create personalized playlists for individuals and groups of students.


Meet Shawn Rubin and other education innovators at this year’s 2015 LearnLaunch Across Boundaries Conference on January 23-24 in Boston! Over 600 attendees, including educators, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, students, and investors, will attend 4 keynote sessions and 21 panels and workshops designed to foster conversation around the greatest challenges in delivering on edtech’s promise. A complete list of speakers and other conference details can be found on the conference website.