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 future of our education system and the future of the country are inextricably tied," said Imagine K12 co-founder Tim Brady. He said transformation is "not a matter of if, only how" and #ik12 plans to be part of "ushering in the how, keeping student outcome front and center."


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).


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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