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Tom Vander Ark
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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

Every Student Should Have a Digital Portfolio

(3) Comments | Posted June 24, 2015 | 2:29 PM

Every student should have a collection of personal bests--a cloud-based story of their development and artifacts of accomplishment that's easily shareable in full or in part and organized for presentation.

At their most basic level portfolios can simply be a storage strategy. They can also...

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Drop Everything and Sail the World

(1) Comments | Posted June 4, 2015 | 7:18 PM

Jeff grew up in old Africa, out in the bush, where the lions still roared and the elephants roamed. The fenceless wild brought unexpected adventures, like answering a knock at the back door and finding a man with his daughter standing there, an arrow sticking out of her...

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Smart Planet: 20 Inventions Boosting Global IQ

(1) Comments | Posted May 28, 2015 | 12:00 PM

Technology and learning innovations are in the process of boosting global IQ. As they become less expensive and more widely available, they will connect billions of young people to the idea economy. Following is a list of 20 categories where new tools are beginning to, or likely to,...

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The Case for Boundary Breaking Education

(0) Comments | Posted May 20, 2015 | 1:04 AM

Twice daily, the moon pulls more than a cubic mile of the Pacific Ocean into the Puget Sound. The sea travels 50 miles past the ports of Seattle and Tacoma where the tide raises an average of eight feet against aging piers, sea front restaurants, and the bulkheads...

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Push Learning: How Smart Notifications Will Change Education

(1) Comments | Posted May 6, 2015 | 3:44 PM

The web exploded in 1994 signaling the end of information-poverty teaching. Search was the most important learning tool ever invented, it powered the beginning of anywhere, anytime learning.

Fast forward 20 years and push-based web where information comes to us appears on the verge of...

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Parent-Managed Learner Profiles Will Power Personalization

(0) Comments | Posted May 4, 2015 | 11:15 AM

Jessie's mom arrived at an elementary enrollment open house with a full record from the Montessori school she had attended for five years. The profile included competency-levels across all subject areas, pages of rich narrative describing her work habits and social-emotional factors, demonstrations of mastery, a record of...

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10 Smartest Cities: Leading on Innovation

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2015 | 12:27 AM

Stanford's Rick Hanushek said, "The future of every city depends on skills." That's the premise of our new book, Smart Cities That Work for Everyone. Our three year investigation chronicled innovations in learning in America's great cities. Based on obvious best practices and hunches about emerging...

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In Defense of Liberal Arts AND Employability

(0) Comments | Posted April 6, 2015 | 12:51 PM

My dad told me to get a liberal arts degree. Instead, I suffered through a rigorous training in engineering and finance. I learned thermodynamics and financial mechanics, but did little reading, no writing and no contemplation of the past, the future, or the well being of my fellow...

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The Leadership it Takes to Create Smart Cities

(0) Comments | Posted January 9, 2015 | 9:59 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 | 10:05 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 | 9:13 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 | 10:52 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 | 8:42 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 | 3:23 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

(0) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 1:28 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 | 11:31 AM

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 | 6:04 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 | 6:52 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 | 6:16 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 | 4:05 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.

Vaz...

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