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Tom Vander Ark
Tom Vander Ark is CEO of Getting Smart and a partner at
Learn Capital. He is a former public school superintendent and is a director of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning. Author of Getting Smart: How Personal Digital Learning is Changing the World, Tom blogs daily at Getting Smart Twitter: @tvanderark

Entries by Tom Vander Ark

The Leadership it Takes to Create Smart Cities

(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2015 | 10:59 AM

"Can a leader in education be innovative, get results and stay alive in their job in today's public education world of compliance and accountability?" Leadership expert Lyle Kirtman answers, "Yes, but it takes courage, commitment and focus!"

It's becoming easier to create an academic environment that addresses...

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Common High Expectations: A Conversation With Mayor Kevin Johnson

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2014 | 11:05 AM

TVA: Since being elected mayor of Sacramento in 2008, your mission has been to make Sacramento "a city that works for everyone." What does that mean in practice?

KJ: Our team mobilized volunteers, improved public art, attacked homelessness, slowed gang violence and encouraged the city...

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Developing an Innovation Mindset

(0) Comments | Posted November 2, 2014 | 10:13 PM

Is it possible to train your brain to think differently? I'm skeptical of those brain-training games but I'm certain that learning and disciplined habits can improve intellectual output.

The opening chapter of my new book, Smart Cities That Work for Everyone, discusses mindset, "Beyond the basics, the most...

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Teachers Taking Next Gen Learning to Scale

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 11:52 AM

The failures of top-down reforms are evident in many urban district--but so is the promise of organic, from the edges, outside-in innovation. Over the last three years, the explosion of mobile learning apps and the drop in device prices has resulted in hundreds of thousands of classrooms that...

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Cities That Work for Everyone

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2014 | 9:42 AM

Cities, some would argue, are the world's greatest inventions, bringing productivity and opportunity to billions. But for many, cities are a hellhole of poverty and violence offering no visible way out. While sociologists have studied cities for years, a new generation of technologists, systems thinkers, and sustainability advocates is taking...

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It's Time to Reimagine School Information

(2) Comments | Posted September 17, 2014 | 4:23 PM

By John Bailey and Tom Vander Ark

"Let me Google that."

"Google" has become a universal term for finding information online, and was officially recognized as a verb by the Oxford English Dictionary in 2006. Quick, simple access to useful information online has transformed the way we perform tasks ranging...

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Common Core: Better Standards, Conditions, Tools, & Outcomes

(1) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 2:28 AM

Over the past week, three states have passed bills to pull their states out of Common Core State Standards--the shared learning expectations for K-12 students adopted by 45 states. Bills are now sitting on the Governor's desk in Oklahoma, Missouri, and South Carolina.

Leaving the Common Core...

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The Having of Wonderful Ideas

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2013 | 12:31 PM

Expeditionary Learning is a national network of more than 150 schools that share the coolest design principles including "The having of wonderful ideas." More broadly, EL schools feature "dynamic leadership, compelling curriculum, engaging instruction, continuous assessment, and a positive school culture."

We caught up with...

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The Business Role in Education: Examples, Expectations and Support

(38) Comments | Posted June 4, 2013 | 7:04 PM

This month, I talked to three extraordinary corporate CEOs about talent development and the role of business in education. All three were trained as engineers and support the Common Core State Standards and expanded STEM education.

Rex Tillerson is CEO of ExxonMobile, one of the world's most...

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Common Core: A Platform for Equity and Innovation

(8) Comments | Posted May 21, 2013 | 7:52 PM

It's exciting to see 45 states voluntarily adopting common college and career ready expectations for students -- it makes the U.S. globally competitive, is embraced by teachers, and is unleashing an avalanche of innovation.

The new Common Core State Standards give all students a shot at college...

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Why We Need Common Standards and Better Tests

(90) Comments | Posted May 15, 2013 | 7:16 PM

It's testing season -- and it's easy to criticize state tests these days. Tests take a lot of time near the end of the year and the results don't come back very quickly. Grade level tests aren't always a good indication of what students were taught or what they know...

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Fostering an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Engineers

(0) Comments | Posted April 17, 2013 | 5:05 PM

"We can't change the students if we don't change ourselves," said Lawrence Technological University provost Maria Vaz. Six years ago, when Dr. Vaz took over as provost of the Detroit engineering school, she observed the need to infuse leadership and an entrepreneurial mindset across the curriculum.


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10 Things New Grantmakers Should Know & Do

(1) Comments | Posted March 18, 2013 | 4:22 PM

I recently met with a family foundation. I shared ten bits of advice for new grantmakers:

1. Leverage informal (organic, interest-based) learning and find grantees that use it -- we're in the early innings of anywhere-anytime learning (and most institutions of formal education haven't figured that out).

2. Leadership...

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How a Kid From Turkey Changed Learning

(0) Comments | Posted December 7, 2012 | 11:27 PM

Eren Bali grew up in a small village in Turkey. "My primary school was a one-room schoolhouse where a single teacher tried her best to teach five different grades at the same time," recalls Eren. "That meant we were often left to try and learn from books on our own."

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Don't Be Lame, Personalize Learning

(1) Comments | Posted November 29, 2012 | 5:42 PM

Our secondary students are becoming more connected, more demanding, and less patient. After a first visit to a Sylvan Learning Center, a seventh grader said, "It wasn't lame, in fact it was anti-lame."

Learning should be anti-lame but all too often we've succeeded in making it boring. Like U.S....

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Thank Your Favorite Association Exec

(0) Comments | Posted October 28, 2012 | 7:50 PM

I like most association people -- the folks that run the acronyms. I appreciate the ones that don't just pander to their members but deliver value while leading them to a better place.

Take Doug Levin of the State Education Technology Directors Association (SETDA) for example,...

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Hewlett Awards $100K Prize for Test Scoring

(2) Comments | Posted October 9, 2012 | 7:04 PM

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation awarded $100,000 today to the top five teams in a competition to accurately score short answer test questions.

The first phase of the Automated Student Assessment Prize addressed essay scoring. The second phase of ASAP, awarded today, took...

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MOOCs Shift From Curiousity to Employability

(1) Comments | Posted September 25, 2012 | 8:46 AM

With huge investments and lots of fanfare massive open online courses (MOOC) are the higher ed topic of the year. They've been around for years, but when more than 100,000 people signed up for a Stanford artificial intelligence course it was obvious that MOOCs had arrived.

Because MOOCs primarily...

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When Bliss Doesn't Pay the Bills

(2) Comments | Posted September 10, 2012 | 6:53 PM

Dave Matthews was on NPR last night pitching his new album. He's played with the same guys for more than 20 years. "It's interesting that our love for each other really revolves around the music we make together," Matthews said. "We're not in the same age group, we...

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Portland Paper on a Digital Witch Hunt

(3) Comments | Posted September 10, 2012 | 3:56 PM

A reporter who proudly proclaims "I'm an award-winning journalist with extensive global experience" appears to be panning for a Pulitzer from his perch in Portland. His second hit piece in a week attempts to "expose the flow of money and influence" in Maine education.

Over the last...

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