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School : Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School

District : Brooklyn

State : New York

Level : P-12

District Enrollment : Less than 1,000 students

Community Type : Urban

Related Tags : Openly Licensed Educational Resources, personalized learning

Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School: Using OER to Scale High-Quality Personalized Learning

Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School (LAB), a network of open-enrollment, college-preparatory, public charter schools in downtown Brooklyn, New York, is dedicated to serving the highest need students regardless of academic level, English language proficiency, or disability. LAB has leveraged its resources to reinvent its approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.

LAB also applied E-rate funds to build out its infrastructure. While LAB is fortunate to be based in an urban center where it is possible to get ultra-fast connectivity, the connection inside the school was weak because the network had to be configured in a 100-year-old building that once served as a bomb shelter. With E-rate funds and additional resources, the school was able to reconfigure the network and purchase additional equipment so that they now have wifi throughout the school. The school has also built and implemented online personalized learning platforms; provided graduated teacher pathways; leveraged community partnerships to support personalized learning; implemented Open eBooks to provide disadvantaged students with free access to thousands of quality electronic books, and used Adobe software to foster and catalyze student creativity.

In addition, LAB embraced openly licensed educational resources, more commonly known as open educational resources (OER), in support of its belief that learning experiences should meet students where they are, engage them deeply in inquiry and mastery, and tailor challenges in dynamic ways. OER allow LAB teachers to employ innovative, high-quality learning resources and tools, and leverage designed experiences from a range of sources, to deliver high-quality personalized learning at scale.

Because personalized learning requires new instructional methods, curricular resources, and professional development, early on in the school’s transition, the founders recognized the need for a system that helps schools bring operational, instructional, and assessment data together into one place to give educators a rich picture of the needs of each student as an individual. Because such a system did not exist, Erin Mote, a co-founder of LAB, started InnovateEDU, a nonprofit that aims to accelerate innovation in next-generation learning models and tools that serve, inform and enhance teaching and learning.

InnovateEDU developed Cortex, a web-based platform that brings all of these data together and also links to a searchable catalogue of online resources, enabling educators to create personalized playlists of OER for students to progress through on their pathways toward mastery. Cortex is designed to ease the transition to OER by providing educators with a holistic view of each student and allowing them to translate the data into improved online instruction in a timely manner. In partnership with InnovateEDU, LAB uses Cortex to share resources, including lesson plans, playlists, assessment tools, training and other resources with other educators and schools. The “working examples” of peers allow for iteration and continual improvement and represent a better starting point than building from scratch. By sharing resources, LAB is enabling more schools to unlock the potential of students with a profound level of differentiation, widening the circle of students who can can be helped. LAB plans to expand its impact by forming partnerships aimed at catalyzing student success around the nation.

Additional Resources

From Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School:

From the U.S. Department of Education:

Point of Contact

Erin Mote, Co-Founder, Brooklyn LAB