Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks for Smarter Personalized and Project Based Learning

Authored by Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns, CEO of New Tech Network

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Networks are proving to be an engine for innovation as well as a powerful scaling strategy that, for the kids that need it most, can boost access to quality. The core premise of Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks for Smarter Personalized and Project-Based Learning, is that creating powerful learning is hard work and there’s no reason for teacher teams to work alone. District leaders, principals and teachers aim to improve student outcomes, but old constraints and inadequate tools and supports make it extremely difficult to innovate at scale. The answer: working together in formal and informal networks.

Better Together is a practical resource containing specific strategies that can be implemented to build and scale effective school networks. The book includes information on leadership, business models, governance, school supports, and advocacy that will go a long way for creating an environment where school networks can thrive.

Taking a “do-it yourself” approach to innovation, poses significant challenges. Throughout the book readers will learn about over a dozen school networks and will be introduced to teachers, principals and district leaders who have re-imagined hundreds of schools with the support of networks. The authors also share:

  • Proven learning models for scaled school networks
  • The latest innovations for more effective collaborations
  • Smart strategies for optimizing the educational network experience

To learn more check out our Network Effect series and download the full press release. Follow along on social using #BetterTogether.

Praise for Better Together

“A wise superintendent once said, ‘Isolation is the enemy of improvement.’ This invaluable book provides a powerful rationale, great examples, and incredibly useful guidelines for genuine innovation networks among teachers and schools. It should be in every education leader’s tool box.   – Tony Wagner, author of The Global Achievement Gap and Creating Innovators

“Education can no longer rely on hub and spoke methods of distributing learning. Learning is happening at a faster pace in a networked world. Across the 500 schools we work with the most successful schools are collaborating across schools within their district and across the country. Tom and Lydia provide examples a taxonomy of networks which increases learning and helps schools attain their goals.”   – Anthony Kim, CEO of Education Elements & Co-Author of The New School Rules.

“A tour de force through the most cutting-edge ideas, schools, and educators, Better Together not only gives the 101 on the concepts educators and citizens need to understand, but also how they can be enacted effectively in schools.”    – Michael Horn, Chief Strategy Officer, The Entangled Group, Distinguished Fellow of the Clayton Christensen Institute, and author of Disrupting Class and Blended


To better help educators utilize the resources in the book, Tom and Lydia are launching a series of Better Together workshops, keynotes, and book chats. This is an excellent opportunity to have Tom and Lydia come speak about the book and answer questions you may have or work with your team to determine how to use the book topics to solve a problem together. If you are interested in hosting a Better Together workshop or event, contact us and we can start designing the best event for your team or network.

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]

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1 Comment

Amy Demarest

Haven't yet read the book but the title itself is inspiring! Reminds me of one of my favorite JD quotes: "Knowledge is no longer an immobile solid; it has been liquefied. It is actively moving in all the currents of society itself." John Dewey

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