Improvement is doing things better. Innovation is doing things differently. Well-deployed technology enables both. Two bloggers missed these important distinctions this week.


Robert Putnam's data is really disturbing. The Harvard sociologist is at it again. Like Bowling Alone, Putnam's new data (discussed recently at the Aspen Ideas Festival) suggests the opportunity gap is widening. More than race and poverty, class and a lack of social mobility are widening gaps that reduce opportunity.


After I described blended learning at a recent conference, Diana Frezza from Scholastic came up to me and said, "Hey, we invented blended learning with READ 180." Having seen a lot of READ 180 classrooms over the last 20 years, I knew it was a proven multi-modal reading intervention. But I wasn't up to date on READ 180 Next Generation so I called Scholastic president Margery Mayer.


For-profit giants are often viewed with skepticism in education. Nonprofits generally focus on impact but move at a slower pace and struggle to raise donations to fund growth. Is there a better model?


We're excited about the prospects, but we all know it will take time for digital learning to transform education. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of teachers will continue to be the single most important school factor in student learning.


At Rocketship Education our mission is to close the achievement gap within our lifetimes. The three pillars of our model are: parent and community engagement, rich professional development for our teachers and school leaders, and individualized learning for our students. Toward the end of individualized learning, we utilize a blended learning model in our K-5 elementary schools. Students use technology and small group tutoring in our Learning Lab for individualized basic skills practice, allowing our teachers to focus on higher-order thinking skills in the classroom.


Utah Connections Academy (UCA) Inaugural Graduating Class of 2012 - eight eager faces, eyes sparkling with a sense of pride and accomplishment - for many of them an accomplishment that would not have happened without the transforming powers of digital learning.


It was a shocker when Tony Bryk announced that he was leaving University of Chicago for Stanford almost a decade ago. Bryk ran the best research shop the country--one known for making local observations with such clarity that they were always of national importance. UC turned Tim Knowles.


The education sector is in the early stages of transitioning from learning management systems (LMS) to learning platform ecosystems. In fact, a lot of US schools will skip the LMS phase and go straight from print to platform.


The drought is over and capital is flowing to innovators in K-12, postsecondary, and consumer learning. That's the conclusion of a report from GSV Advisors including industry veterans Deborah Quazzo and Michael Moe. They examine the "near spontaneous explosion of entrepreneurial activity in education."


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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