Getting Smart Podcast-logo

Getting Smart Podcast

Education Podcasts >

The Getting Smart Podcast covers topics in K-12, HigherEd and lifelong learning. Episodes cover developments in research, technology, entrepreneurs, methods and more to bring listeners some of the most informing, insightful and innovative strategies around education today.

The Getting Smart Podcast covers topics in K-12, HigherEd and lifelong learning. Episodes cover developments in research, technology, entrepreneurs, methods and more to bring listeners some of the most informing, insightful and innovative strategies around education today.
More Information


United States


The Getting Smart Podcast covers topics in K-12, HigherEd and lifelong learning. Episodes cover developments in research, technology, entrepreneurs, methods and more to bring listeners some of the most informing, insightful and innovative strategies around education today.




166 - David Conley on Next-Generation Assessment

In this episode, Tom interviews David Conley, a professor at the College of Education at the University of Oregon. For more than 20 years, Conley has been a leading authority in American education policy. His seminal book, College Knowledge, outlined what students need to know and be able to do to succeed in college and careers. His famous Think, Know, Act, Go outcome framework was foundational for Summit Learning and My Ways from NGLC. Conley’s new book, The Promise and Practice ...


165 - Why Youth Need Social Capital and How Schools Can Help

This episode, Tom interviews Julia Freeland Fisher, the Director of Education at the Clayton Christensen Institute. For a decade, since Clay Christensen and Michael Horn published Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, the team at the Clayton Christensen Institute has been known as a leader in blended and personalized learning — as well as the idea of disruptive innovation. In Julia’s new book, Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand...


164 - Apple Executive, John Couch, on Rewiring Education

Today, Tom interviews thought leader, author, and Apple Executive, John Couch. For 16 years, John served as Apple’s Vice President of Education. He launched some great programs and saw a lot of cool stuff but was left a bit disappointed by the reductive and ineffective uses of technology. In his new book, Rewiring Education, he urges a full rewiring of education. It is a call-to-action to parents and teachers to help them realize that the technology that’s now in place can empower both...


163 - Listening to Kids and Designing from Scratch for Timeless Learning with Pam Moran

Today, Tom talks with Pam Moran, who just wrapped up 32 years with Albemarle County Public Schools as she transitions into a leadership role at the Virginia School Consortium for Learning. Starting as a science teacher and concluding with a dozen years as superintendent, Pam has quietly become one of America’s leading educators because the work she leads is so compelling. With two of her Albemarle colleagues, Moran just published a book of lessons learned called, Timeless Learning: How...


162 - Personalize Learning and Build Agency By Using the 4 PLC Questions

Today, Tom speaks with Tim Stuart. Tim is an international educator who has lived in France and has taught in Turkey and Switzerland. After being the principal of a New Mexico school serving Native Americans, Tim was one of the first to earn a Ph.D. as a Gates Millenium Scholar. As Head of School in Jakarta, he was introduced to professional learning communities by Rick Dufour. Since then, Tim has used professional learning communities to create exemplary schools in Singapore and Ethiopia....


161 - We’re Doing It Wrong: A Teacher’s View on How to Fix It

Today, Tom has a conversation with David Michael Slater. David is a teacher at Pine Middle School in Reno — he’s also an author of dozens of children’s books and has been writing and teaching for over 20 years. David believes that having another passion beyond the classroom is helpful for a teacher. In his first nonfiction work, Slater enumerates many of the bad, obsolete, and corrupted ideas that have become part of the basic operating system in American elementary and secondary...


160 - Last-Mile Training as an Alternative to Higher Ed with Ryan Craig

In today’s episode, Tom interviews Ryan Craig. Ryan is an attorney, an entrepreneur, and a venture investor — he’s also a leading critic of higher education. When he sees half of the people attending post-secondary failing to earn degrees (and many of them leaving with piles of debt) he sees an emergency. As he would say, “the patient is bleeding out on the table.” Ryan is the co-founder of University Ventures, an organization that is reimagining the future of higher education and...


159 - Bringing Dreams to Life: Maker Movement Goes Global

Recently, Tom went to Europe to visit the founders of MyMachine. MyMachine is a 10-year-old nonprofit in Belgium that helps brings dreams to life by recruiting college design students and high school prototypers to help bring to life the dreams of elementary students. While visiting MyMachine, Tom asked the three co-founders — Jan Despiegelaere, Piet Grymonprez, and Filip Meuris — about the origin story of MyMachine and how they’ve scaled up to help over half a million students worldwide...


158 - Better Together: Why Schools Should Work in Networks

This week, Tom Vander Ark speaks with Lydia Dobyns, CEO of New Tech Network, to talk about their new book, Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks for Smarter Personalized and Project-Based Learning. Tom and Lydia are excited about the potential of personalized and project-based learning but worry about the degree of difficulty for teachers. Their book suggests that schools working together in formal (or informal) networks to share models, tools, and professional learning to achieve...


157 - SXSW EDU Special Edition Episode Part 2

This episode is the second in the two-part series from Getting Smart’s time spent at SXSW EDU. Getting Smart was a media partner at the conference and while there got to meet and interview thought leaders, change makers, and even a few students. If you haven’t listened to part one yet, you can find it on Emily Liebtag interviews SXSW EDU attendees on why they attended the conference and what their predictions are about the future of work and learning. This episode she...


156 - SXSW EDU Special Edition Episode Part 1

Over the next two weeks we'll be bringing you a special edition two-part episode from our time spent at SXSW EDU. Getting Smart was a media partner at the conference and while there, we got to meet and interview thought leaders, change makers, and even a few students. These episodes come just in time to help inspire and encourage you to submit your proposal to present at next year's conference. Check out SXSW's Panel Picker site and get your submission(s) in before July 20th! During the...


155 - Talking Learner Experience at the Zoo

Today, your host Jessica Slusser and Tom Vander Ark discuss the Pacific NW LX Summit at the Science and Math Institute (SAMi) that the Getting Smart team co-hosted a few weeks ago. There, they explored what powerful learning experiences for kids look like, how you create them, and why they’re so important. Throughout the day, with Puget Sound educators, they explored what good learning design looks like. In this episode, you’ll hear from a variety of veteran educators describing what...


154 - What’s Up With All the Design-Focused Schools?

This week on the Getting Smart Podcast, Tom is talking to his colleague, Emily Liebtag. Emily is the Director of Advocacy at Getting Smart. Emily has been a teacher, and a learner, in a myriad of different classroom spaces — ranging from K-12 public schools to online institutes of higher education. In the last several weeks, The Getting Smart team has visited so many unique, innovative schools. They’ve been to cities across the country, visiting well over a dozen different schools — all...


153 - Dr. Susan Bell on Becoming Student Centered and Mastery Based

Today, Tom has a conversation with Dr. Susan Bell, Superintendent of Windsor Locks Public Schools, a Connecticut district moving to mastery-based learning where students show what they know and progress when they demonstrate mastery. Next month, after 17 years working with Windsor Locks, Dr. Bell will be joining the Mastery Transcript Consortium. There she will be helping schools and districts adopt new competency-based transcripts that help learners better communicate their capabilities...


152 - MIT Integrated Learning Initiative with Jeff Dieffenbach

Today on the Getting Smart Podcast, Tom interviews Jeff Dieffenbach, Associate Director of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative (MITili). Prior to joining MIT, Jeff worked in strategy, product management, business development, sales, and marketing roles for a variety of traditional and digital education companies. With Jeff’s current role at MIT, he works with his team to better understand learning and education — and using that knowledge to better enable students and learners around...


151 - Michael Fullan Sees Global Momentum for Deep Learning

Today, The Getting Smart team is super excited to bring you a conversation with Michael Fullan. As Tom would say, Michael is Canada’s gift to education. For half a century and with 45 books to his credit, Michael has been the world’s most persistent and persuasive advocate for powerful learning experiences. Michael is encouraged by the global momentum he sees with whole systems adopting deep learning strategies and policies. If you’ve been on Getting Smart’s blog recently, you know the...


150 - New NWEA Chief Chris Minnich on the Future of Assessment

Today, Tom speaks with Chris Minnich of the Northwest Evaluation Association — more commonly known as the NWEA. Chris was named the new CEO of NWEA in the fall of 2017. In his new role at NWEA, Chris will help invent the future of assessment. Currently, about 1 in 5 students in America already monitors their academic using the NWEA assessment tests. Previously to his new position at NWEA, Chris served as the Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. During his...


149 - Leading the Charge for Better D.C. Schools

This episode, Tom speaks with Maura Marino — CEO of Education Forward DC. Before helping launch Education Forward DC, Maura held a number of positions at NewSchools Venture Fund where she worked for 8 years. There, she learned a lot about the national picture and how the trends around entrepreneurship and scaling success looked in public education. She was able to see, up close, organizations that were making huge changes in education. For the last 20 years, NewSchools Venture Fund has...


148 - Quality Early Learning Makes Tulsa a Great Place to Grow Up

The Getting Smart team takes a digital trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma to take a look at their vibrant education community. In 1998, Oklahoma passed a law providing free access to pre-kindergarten. Since then, families in Tulsa have benefited from leading-edge programs, supported by the George Kaiser Family Foundation and the Schusterman Family Foundation. Improvement and talent development efforts are coordinated by ImpactTulsa; a regional non-profit. In this episode, Tom speaks with Kathy...


147 - Business Partners Define Badges for San Diego Students

Today, the Getting Smart team dives into a conversation about industry-defined student competencies at Del Lago Academy in Escondido, just north of San Diego — with Alec Barron and Brett Goldsmith. Alec Barron is a Science Coach in the Escondido Union High School District and has taught a variety of science subjects for grades 6-12. He is one of the founding teachers of Del Lago since it first opened in 2013 and was part of the team that helped set up the school. At Del Lago, he developed...