Posts by Tom Vander Ark

Personalized Learning

Reconciliation on Poverty Bay

Poverty Bay is a quiet elbow of the Puget Sound north of Tacoma. Twelve foot tides leave their mark twice daily. Herons guard the beach with air support from a family of bald eagles. It’s a spiritual place, which is a nice way of saying that for nine months of…

Personalized Learning

3 legislatures attempt to turn back clock

In a ridiculous effort to set back the clock, the Oregon legislature is considering protecting districts from online competition. The Florida senate is considering a bill that would limit courses that students can take online. And, as previously reported, Arkansas joint budget committed…

Personalized Learning

Day in the life of online learner; limited social networks

1. Read Learning Without Limits for a good description of a 5th graders day in Florida Virtual School.  2. Despite all the teacher social network startups, the “National Online Survey of District Technology Directors Exploring District Use of Web 2.0 Technologies” …

Personalized Learning

Incentives for Equitable Education

The US Education Department (USED) will soon be writing checks totaling more than $100 billion (yes that’s a b) to states and districts. About 95% is just backfilling budget holes–a good thing given the precipitous and potentially disastrous drop in state and local revenues. Unfortunately, USED will be criticized because…

Personalized Learning

Edu-innovation will improve quality, expand choice

A charter school investor asked me what innovation had to do with school choice.   The answer is that adaptive content–engaging, personalized, online learning with continuous feedback–will improve student motivation, accelerate learning, and expand options for students and families in 3 ways: * Informal learning:  Improved access to broadband and powerful…

Personalized Learning

This video will change LA, then USA

Parent Revolution offers a simple powerful promise—get 51% of parents to sign up and in 3 years you get a transformed school. Wow, that’s a big idea. Easier said than done and only possible: • in states where parents can vote to convert a school to charter (I’m trying…

Personalized Learning

Challenges for Charter Schools

Read this important piece from AEI on Challenges for Charter Schools. Hess makes some good points about the challenge of scaling: • Models that rely on heroic effort have inherent limits to scale (e.g., KIPP) • The quality backlash and focus on ‘what works’ has driven innovation…

Personalized Learning

Community organizing in a post school district world

“What will happen when school districts go bankrupt or are taken over by the state?” a community organizer asked. He was contemplating future scenarios with combinations of increasing charter school market share, decreasing state and local financial support, and persistent academic failure. Paul Hill has spent more than 15…

Personalized Learning

Mission scaling

It’s tough for non-profit organizations to find scaling capital—especially now. Donations come and go. Foundations provide restricted grants for pet projects. Even with a strong sustainable business plan, it’s hard to find unrestricted grants to grow. That’s why I’m encouraged by a new generation of non-profit venture and growth…

Personalized Learning

Turning the textbook world upside down

Flatworld, a start up company that just raised $8 million, is launching a free line of college textbooks. Like Wireless Generation, which distributes www.FreeReading.net, they make money by selling related services. For the last 15 years, textbook publishers have given away CDs and digital assets to sell textbooks.