Leaning Forward: 13 Conversations

1. As the only guy wearing a lavender shirt at a biker rally in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) on Sunday, it was probably obvious that I was there for the film festival (@WilliFest) featuring the TEACHED series from Loudspeaker Films.  After wandering through the biker rally, edreformer and tech entrepreneurs visited with film producer Kelly Amis.
2. Last weekend Enstitute hosted an open house for the 11 new Fellows, aged 18-24, that began their apprenticeship in hot NYC startups this week.  Forbes covered this launch of this exciting alternative post-secondary model that is “educating tomorrow’s workforce by turning startups and small businesses around the world into classrooms.”
3. The Buck Institute, a thought leader in project-based learning (PBL), called to compare notes on the next few years.  I suggested that the online assessment of the Common Core will frame the next decade the way NCLB framed the last decade and is A Platform for Achievement & Innovation.  PBL will become more widespread and effective as tools make becomes easier to construct and assess standards-based projects.
4. The MIT Enterprise Forum called about an upcoming Seattle meeting.  I made the case, as I attempted to do in my book, that the the shift to personal digital learning is the best chance we have to boost achievement.  I said kids deserve a 3 screen day for mobile learning, production, and sharing.  They asked about opportunity for entrepreneurs and I talked about apps, assessment, and analytics.
5. Tech entrepreneur Steven Hodas recently joined the NYC DOE to lead InnovateNYC and build out an R&D ecosystem for process and product innovation.  Our conversation was a follow up to my feature, NYC iZone: Innovation Hub and Change Management Model.  
6. Pamela Cantor, Turnaround for Children, met me for dinner last Sunday to discuss How Children Succeed: Attachment, Advisory & Adversity. Her school improvement model is the most thoughtful approach to working with children in poverty.
7. Greg Butler helped my school district shape a 1:1 initiative 15 years ago.  Today he shapes partnerships for Microsoft and shares what he has learned as Chairman at International Partnership Brokers Association.
8.  I met with the Hewlett Foundation about a recently concluded second phase of the Automated Student Assessment Prize.  The $100,000 prize purse will be awarded at the CCSSO meeting on October 4.  I had two additional conversations with foundations excited about using a prize mechanism to focus and accelerate innovation.
7. John Welch, PSESD superintendent, called to follow up on OpenBlend, the conference we co-hosted in Tacoma last week. I observed that  Maps, Playlists, & Badges were key blended learning themes.
8. I called Scott Morgan for an update on EdPioneers. the team doing an amazing job of injecting talent into the education sector.  Applications for the Education Pioneers Fellowship Programs are open.
9. I spent a day in the Learn Capitol office in San Mateo meeting with startup companies.  It’s exciting to see that all the smart kids want to work in education.
10. I met with Charter Board Partners in DC and we discussed their smart efforts to recruit and train talented board members for growing charter schools.
11. On a visit to 10gen, an open source database, I met with a very animated founder Dwight Merriman about his decision to teach a MOOC.
12. I attended a Carnegie Learning forum on blended learning and engaged in a great conversation with teachers and school administrators from the eastern seaboard.
13. The highlight of the week was a conversation with Steve Hargadon, the Charlie Rose of education.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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