A brewstorm (a lightning round of Pabst-powered edu-visions) at Matt Candler's 4.0 Schools last Wednesday was the kind of gathering that could only be held in a handful of cities. New Orleans has always been a creative hotspot, just not in education. When I visited in the spring of 2005, the academic performance, the condition of school facilities, and the level of corruption were unbelievably bad -- in some cases worse than what I had seen in South Africa the month before.


A policymaker at the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) Virtual School Symposium (VSS) said, "We want to advance competency-based learning, what kind of bill should we introduce?" Let's start by looking at the 10 design elements of a competency-based system (an update of a May blog).


When I joined the iNACOL board three years ago, I was hoping to see a shift in emphasis from virtual schools to a focus on helping all schools incorporate online and personal digital learning. That shift was evident in the name, Inventing the Future of Learning, and content of the Virtual School Symposium program this week in New Orleans.


This July the National Academy Foundation (NAF), a network of more than 460 academies across the U.S. serving more than 60,000 students, launched a student certification assessment system to drive real college and career readiness. Recently, NAF partnered with ConnectEDU to track college and career readiness by providing real-time reports on engagement and academic progress.


Virtual schools and online courses work better for some kids than others. Some of variance is provider based; some of it is student based. In most cases, there is not very good data on students or providers. A new report explained, "Most state accountability and data systems can't easily provide the information about individual student growth on mastery outcomes that is necessary to produce the answer."


The 20-mile stretch from Stanford University to San Jose, Calif. produces more innovation than any place on the planet. As Richard Florida noted, the unique confluence of a great R1 University, venture investors, tech talent, and great quality of life make it a creative hotspot.


The Rodel Foundation hosted the fifth Vision 2015 Conference. The First State scored first in the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant competition largely because of the vision, organizing, and grantmaking of the Rodel Foundation and its Executive Director Paul Herdman.


Author Bernie Trilling asked, "What would it take for more students to benefit from deeper learning?" Trilling was referring to education that pushes beyond the basics, is engaging and challenging, and prepares young people for college and careers.


Social justice advocates have been working in Oakland for 20 years. Recently, they've been joined by reformers, talent developers, school networks, and investors seeking an affordable Bay Area hub.


Common Sense Media aims to provide "trustworthy information to parents and teens about technology and media." Founder and CEO Jim Styer has been working on this mission for 20 years. He's the author of a new book, Talking Back to Facebook: A Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age, a look at how digital media affects the development of young children.


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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