Tom Vander Ark on Using Technology to Advance Student Learning

Our CEO Tom Vander Ark recently took an in-depth look at whether kids are getting too much screen time in school for our friends at Education Next. If you’re familiar with Getting Smart, you could probably guess that he doesn’t think the amount of screen time most kids receive is too much–but the reality is more nuanced than the situation simply “not being a problem.”

In a recent episode of the EdNext podcast, Tom explored these nuances in more detail with Marty West, EdNext’s Editor-in-Chief.

In the podcast, Tom argues that many of the less-than-desirable effects of technology that some have experienced were, in part, due to standards reform limiting innovation and the effective use of new technologies. It was this environment, he argues (for example), that led to the “worksheet” problem, wherein schools traded paper worksheets for digital worksheets.

And while he concedes that technology isn’t a prerequisite for personalized PBL (which we think is one of the most promising paths forward for education), without technology “it would be really hard.” And why subject ourselves to that challenge if we don’t have to?

To that end, he is excited about the new learning models being highlighted by organizations like New School Venture Fund, NGLC, and most recently XQ Super School. Similarly, networks and schools combining PBL & Personalized Learning such as Alt School, New Tech Network, Brooklyn Lab School and Summit Public Schools are showing that with intentional learner experience design and a proper balance, screen time can make a crucial contribution to students’ learning.

For more of Tom’s thoughts on subjects like intimate computing and experiential computing and VR and AR, check out the podcast above.

For more, see:

Stay in-the-know with all things EdTech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update. This post includes mentions of a Getting Smart partner. For a full list of partners, affiliate organizations and all other disclosures, please see our Partner page.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

Discover the latest in learning innovations

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.