Austin is weird--and they work to keep it that way. Like Columbus (profiled last week), it's a college town and state capital--add a dose of music, sunshine, Tex-Mex and venture capital and you get Austin.

By Tom Vander Ark and Susan Patrick The system of education certification is badly out of date and benefits schools of education more than K-12 schools. The rise of blended and online learning has accelerated the obsolescence of traditional employment barriers. Forward leaning policy design efforts like Digital Learning Now! (DLN) recommend performance based certification that rewards demonstrated effectiveness. DLN also recommends professional development opportunities for online and blended learning teachers. Because most colleges of education are not preparing teachers or administrators to teach or lead in technology enriched classrooms, the Leading Edge Certification was developed by California educators. iNACOL ...

Much like Austin, SXSWedu kept it weird for the third annual conference. Weird in a good way. Suits traded in for boots and jeans. Typical presentations traded in for interactive discussions.

The Getting Smart team is live from Austin this week covering the SXSWedu conference. The event, in its third year expects up to 5,000 attendees this week, a large jump from the 800 its first year. We took a break from breakfast tacos for a first half recap.

Marty Neumeier teaches companies to innovate. He shared lessons learned in his new book Metaskills: Five Talents for the Robotic Age. Neumeier sees machines taking jobs that don't require creativity, humanity or leadership.

This decade offers a historic opportunity to boost student learning. New tools are powering new schools and transforming learning, assessment, matriculation, and teaching.

Two promising developments stood out on two trips to Columbus last month. The first is the four term Mayor's Education Commission focused on revitalizing Columbus City Schools. The second is first ring suburban districts charting the path forward.

Urban districts trying to ensure consistent rigor in every classroom have implemented programs of managed instruction--a common curriculum, shared lesson plans, pacing guides, periodic assessments, and associated professional development. While these programs can feel stifling, they often lead to incremental improvement.

"Schemas are context-sensitive connections that help us understand," said Matthew Peterson, Chief Scientist and co-founder of MIND Research Institute at a recent Neuroscience Symposium. "Experiences that build and apply these connections are called learning."

The Digital Learning Now! Smart Series is a group of collaborative papers that bring together top thinkers on the current trends in teaching and learning to explore the implementation challenges at the intersection of digital learning and the Common Core.


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