Sudoku Life. On the flight out to NewSchools, the Sundance of EdReform, the old guy next to me struggled with an advanced Sudoku.  I’ve never tried it.  The way I figure is that we all do Sudoku for life.  Teachers spend the day working a giant multivariable problem.  Principals are problem solving all day long.  Edupreneurs  attempt to build great solutions in small windows.  I don’t know about you but I have enough multi-variable problem solving in my life.

Awards. Speaking of NewSchools, congrats to Eric Westendorf and Alix Guerrier, LearnZillion (a Learn Capital portfolio company), for winning entrepreneur of the year at NewSchools.

And congrats to Unsung Heroes Carrie Irvin and Simmons Lettre, Charter Board Partners (where I’m board chair). The support development of Great Boards for Great Schools.

Early Innings. I’ve been visiting a bunch of blended learning models in the last week.  I deeply appreciate the innovators that– with crappy tools, limited support, and insufficient budgets– are creating the future of education.  It’s important to remember that we’re in the early innings.  The toolset is getting better, the models are shaking out, and the path is becoming clear.  While I think the next 24 months (before online assessment of Common Core expectations) deserve a great deal of urgency, this is a marathon not a sprint (just to mix sports metaphors).

Unexpected Sources. It’s quite possible that breakthroughs in learning will come from unexpected sources:

  • Khan Academy showed us the toolset for competency-based learning;
  • Udemy is creating a new vision of lifelong learning relationships;
  • P2PU may be creating new market signaling strategies that serve as degree replacements in dynamic job categories;
  • Self organizing parent coops around virtual schools could prove to be an interesting source of flex model innovation; and
  • DARPA investigations into phycological hardiness may yield new insights for K-12 motivational profiles and early warning systems.

You Don’t Know Jack. I run in the morning with an energetic Jack Russell terrier.  At nine years old, she still wakes in a flash and is ready to run.  An indulgent dog owner, I run her on a long leash.  She sniffs enthusiastically, following leads with conviction (an excuse I use to stop occasionally).  I want to wake up with the same enthusiasm for life (at least after coffee) and learn with the same conviction that she hits the trail with.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.



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