Consultants asked, "Why haven't districts adopted blended learning faster?" I answered, "Because it's complicated."


It's usually true that there's nothing better than learning by doing, but sometimes simulation is better than the real thing. When it comes to life, physical, and earth science, simulation can compress time, connect tasks, and allow students to see multiple dimensions.


You've probably seen William J. Baumol's book, The Cost Disease, or you've read an Inside HigherEd column about how education and health care are labor intensive and have not seen the same kind of productivity gains as other sectors. Perhaps you heard Paul Hill and Marguerite Rosa talk about Baumol's disease, "The combination of rising costs and stagnant productivity are major problems in an environment where many children are not learning the skills they need and education is now not likely to receive sustained increases in public funding."


While there are millions of happy democrats this week, a critic sees a landscape "littered with rubble and ruin and wreckage on all sides" in an open letter to the President. Elections leave aggrieved poles, but I live in a much more optimistic place. In particular, I'm optimistic about five things.


Boston has been a leader in education for more than 400 years. Drawing from its existing network of universities, learning companies, innovation economy, and technical talent, there are more than 130 education technology and learning-oriented startups in the Boston area.


Most secondary students are bored and there aren't enough STEM graduates from college. These problems are related.


Math gets all the love--at least that appears to be the case in the edtech world. But applications of automated essay scoring have been growing steadily for 15 years. The shift to digital instructional materials, preparations for state online assessment, and a new crop of writing apps is adding new energy to digital ELA.


You can extend your impact with social media. Schools, districts, networks, nonprofits, providers and startups, can leverage social media to efficiently communicate, effectively build brand awareness, and gathering feedback on customer experience.


I'm a big fan of flex model secondary schools; there at least 10 Reasons Every District Should Open a Flex School. In short, these models create options fast, can leverage community assets, and create a picture of the future of personalized competency-based learning.


Two recent reports point to the importance of so called non-cognitive skills to success in college and work. A University of Chicago literature review funded by the Lumina and Raikes foundations said, "Students must develop sets of behaviors, skills, attitudes, and strategies that are crucial to academic performance in their classes."


The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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