iOS app Android app

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

Student Motivation Matters: 25 Tips and Strategies

(0) Comments | Posted August 20, 2015 | 12:41 PM

A new report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching reviews what we know about student motivation.

Motivation Matters: How New Research Can Help Teachers Boost Student Engagement , by Susan Headden and Sarah McKay, is a competent review...

Read Post

Why Do Human Beings Engage? 22 Impulses That Sustain Engagement

(0) Comments | Posted August 11, 2015 | 5:31 PM

I'd like to capture and keep your attention for about 60 seconds while you read this post. I'd like you to feel strongly enough about the topic that you share it with others on social media. I'm relying on your professional curiosity and commitment to impact. In other...

Read Post

Open a Micro-School: Here's How

(1) Comments | Posted August 5, 2015 | 11:52 AM

It's getting easier to open a really cool school. A new wave of tiny schools are creating options for students, parents, and educators.

Micro-schools vary in size, approach, and governance. Private micro-schools like Acton Academy and AltSchool help students shape a personalized path....

Read Post

Driving Innovation From the White House

(0) Comments | Posted July 29, 2015 | 10:39 AM

Tom Kalil is a California guy but he has spent 14 years encouraging U.S. innovation from the White House. Kalil leads the Office of Science and Technology Policy (@whitehouseostp). He served president Clinton as well as president Obama.

OSTP promotes innovation and entrepreneurship, STEM education,...

Read Post

Happify: The Science of Emotional Wellbeing in a Mobile App

(0) Comments | Posted July 28, 2015 | 11:17 AM

Disclosure: Tom Vander Ark is CEO of Getting Smart and a partner at Learn Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in educational technology.

Having a bad day? Join more than a million users of Happify and log in and cheer up.

What is...

Read Post

Utah Boosts Kindergarten Readiness With Literacy Games at Home

(1) Comments | Posted July 15, 2015 | 2:36 PM

Children in Utah were coming to kindergarten unprepared to learn, but many parents were unwilling to send very young children to school. Transportation was another issue in rural parts of the state.

To address the Kindergarten readiness issue, the legislature created UPSTART, a five...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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,...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post

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...

Read Post