Friday Five: Notes From The Frontier

Happy Friday, smart friends. We’re excited to launch a new weekly series called Friday Five. Each post will cover learnings and discoveries from the week. We’ll also preview what we’re working on and where you can contribute.

1. Thanks Tom! Denver Superintendent Tom Boasberg announced this week that he’s stepping down after a great 10 years run (part of a two-decade stretch with a great elected board). Listen to Tom and his board discuss their portfolio approach to expanding access to good schools.

2. Better Together. I spent last weekend in St. Louis with over 1,400 educators from the project-based New Tech Network conference (here’s my report). We celebrated The Power of US–building great schools together–and the launch of our new book, Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks for Smarter Personalized and Project-Based Learning.

3. Business as a contribution. On the network front, I spoke with Roland Siegers from CEMS, a network of 31 top global business schools that share a commitment to making a meaningful contribution to society and an experiential approach to learning. Students in member schools all participate in a student consulting experience. Roland said, yes, students learn business concepts at member schools but the big benefit was emerging with “Personality 2.0,”learners understand themselves better, are more confident, and are inspired by learning in a variety of different environments.

4. Good work. We think work experiences are critical. So do the 644 career academies in the NAF network. They share a diploma system called NAFTrack that combines work and classroom experiences. Last week they announced an enhanced version of the myNAFTrack. Stay tuned for a big announcement about a citywide pilot.

5. Open AI resources. Google just launched Seedbank, a microsite of machine learning (ML) kernels you can run from your browser with no setup. They are examples that you can edit, extend or incorporate into your project in Google Colaboratory.

Free courses include the new getting started experience on and Machine Learning Crash Course. TF Hub has a variety of pretrained machine learning modules ready for application which are often accompanied by Colab notebooks.

It’s cool to see all of the open AI and ML resources out there. For more, listen to our podcast with Jess Posner of AI4All. She’s bringing open AI resources and experts to high school girls nationwide.

Five Discoveries:

  • Org: Couragion (@Couragion), a very cool career literacy subscription service with great teacher PD and workforce analytics.
  • Report: Promising Trends and Challenges in Work Based Learning: A Market Scan of Organizations and Tools from JFF (@jfftweets).
  • Book: coming in September, A New U is Ryan Craig’s new book (reviewed here) on faster and cheaper sprints to high wage, high demand jobs that will replace a big chunk of higher ed.
  • Food: Solterito at Mango, a Peruvian restaurant in St. Louis. It’s a puffed quinoa with cherry tomatoes, fava beans, avocado, crispy potato, choclo (corn), queso fresco, and red pepper in a apple cider vinaigrette. Wow!
  • Pic: favorite picture of the week was dawn at the Arch in St. Louis with friends from the New Tech Network (featured image).

Five things we’re working on–and where you can help:

Here’s what we’re thinking and writing about.

  • Place-based education: city as classroom, leveraging the power of place
  • Career high schools: sprints to high wage, high demand jobs
  • Diploma networks: schools with shared outcomes, resources, and learning opportunities (read about the Building 21 network)
  • #FutureofWork and what it means for students
  • Guidance: how to expand access to quality academic, social and career advice

If you have a good example of any of these, shoot us a note at [email protected].

For more, see:

Stay in-the-know with all things edtech and innovations in learning by signing up to receive the weekly Smart Update.

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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