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The CLO of Academica Shares 7 Best Practices


Screen_Shot_2014-06-04_at_3.29.21_PMLast week, I had the joy of interviewing Daniel Meyer, Chief Learning Officer (CLO) of Academica. He's a charmer, and he's also incredibly intelligent. With a M.Ed from Harvard in Educational Psychology, he has his thumb on the pulse of learning, how it pertains to today, and how to make it better. 

Here is my compilation of the 7 Best Practices that Daniel offered us from his experience: 

1. Create Family & Autonomy

It's incredibly important to create a learning environment that feels like a small town, or family. The head of the learning community should have the role of "mayor" and have that sense of autonomy, accountability, and presence. In turn, people know each other, there are expectations, and there is a community of distinct support roles. On top of that, when people feel autonomous and their purpose is grounded in that, people tend to take more stock in it. 

2. Face Your Resistance

"Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies."

-Robert Kennedy

There is a ritual of sorts when it comes to training and teaching; people are continuing to teach the material in the way they learned it, without questioning if it is still effective, or if there is a better way. Do we really want technology to change the way we teach and learn? Before the internet, there was an authority figure, someone that was depended on to provide information, but now people can look information up in seconds. There is less hierarchy, less waiting, less dependency on a group of people. But, you wouldn't be able to tell that our lives are fundamentally different if you looked at a classroom; they still look the same way they did 200 years ago.  

It's not just about how resources are changing, it's about the mindshift associated with it. 

3. Learn to Fly the Plane

We've only had a certain schema in place of what education looks like. With the advent of digital learning, what we've done with it is re-shape it and stick it online. That's to expected, yes, but it's like riding a plane up and down the runway, without ever taking off.

Instead of using digital education to replicate traditional education, how do we use it to do things that traditional education could never do?

4. Keep Operations Strong

It's important to have a beautiful educational vision and a strong philosophy, but remember the other side of the coin. Remember how the education falls into a grander structure and get support in management and operations. 

5. Customize Motivation

Treat people the way THEY want to be treated. What motivates you may be very different from what motivates others. Motivation is predicated upon: listening, understanding, evaluating, and then translating what you learn about that person into some kind of spoken sequence for their own development. Be specific on what people can improve on, and have benchmarks along the process. In addition to creating specific ways for them to grow, it's also important to learn how to silence their critic, so they can just be. 

6. Pick the Right Platform

The hardest part about being involved in educational technology is that there is never a moment in which what you are doing (to provide some level of stability to your team) can be immediately called into question when days or months later, that very technology is rendered obsolete.

Work with a company who is willing to work with you and who cares about your vision. Work with vendors who understand how to improve and enhance your training/education, even if there are roadblocks. Find partners, not vendors. Find one that is flexible enough and agile enough to adapt to your varying needs

7. Remember to Play

At the end of day, as educators, we tend to take ourselves too seriously. If we stop enjoying ourselves, how do we model the joy of learning for our students? Play allows us to continue to remember that we are learners ourselves: we learn by playing, by having experiences, and by trying. Thats where we learn our most important lessons. 



Prior to being named Chief Learning Officer, overseeing the creation, design, and delivery of all international and virtual education programs, for Academica (the nation’s largest and most successful charter school management organization), Daniel previously served as the inaugural principal of Somerset Virtual Academyand Somerset International. Preceding his entrance into educational leadership, he was a highly decorated high school teacher and counselor, mostly in the fields of American History, Contemporary Ethics, Health/Sexuality Education, and College/Career Advising. Daniel earned a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Harvard University and graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. LouisIn addition to his primary professional duties, Daniel is the Founder and CEO of Under A Tree, a burgeoning educational organization dedicated to cultivating transformational leadership through high-profile mentoring and rigorous experiential learning. He also serves as President of Prepory, a unique counseling program that connects students and parents across the globe to the highest caliber of college advising resources.