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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.
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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.




Bonus Episode - Helping Students Thrive in San Diego

Today the Getting Smart team is bringing you a bonus episode! Recently, they got the chance to interview a ton of great people at the recent iNACOL conference and want to bring it to you early as a little holiday gift this season. In this special bonus episode, Tom interviews Nicole Assisi and Shelly Kurt of Thrive to talk all about how they are building community and doubling proficiency rates for children from low-income neighborhoods. Nicole and Shelly originally met at a San Diego...


174 - Schools Out: Engaging Families and the Community

Today, and for the next three weeks, the Getting Smart team is going to explore a new initiative from Education Reimagined. Education Reimagined recently released a paper entitled, “School’s Out,” which set out to explore how we could alter our perspective on the meaning, feel, and delivery of learning. Tom had the opportunity to sit down with the education leaders who authored “School’s Out,” and over the next three episodes, he will be digging deeper into what the future of learning may...


173 - Signs of Progress at Singapore American School

Today, the Getting Smart team is going international. Tom recently visited the Singapore American School (for his second time!) and is incredibly excited to share all about the signs of progress happening over there. With a tradition of academic excellence, Singapore American School serves 4,000 preschool to 12th-grade students. After serving as a District Superintendent in Washington State, Dr. Chip Kimball joined SAS as Superintendent in 2012. The board asked Kimball to make the school...


172 - How Teachers and Leaders Can Promote Personalized Learning

Today Tom Vander Ark is flying solo — literally, he’s flying right now on a trip between SoCal and Singapore. Just this past week he visited twenty amazing personalized learning schools in Southern California and can’t wait to share everything he learned on personalized learning today. In this episode, Tom covers five main attributes of personalized learning, five ways teachers can support personalized learning, ten ways administrators can build systems for personalized learning, and some...


171 - Throwback Episode: Project-Based Learning Connects Real World with Deep Impact

In this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast, the Getting Smart team is throwing it back to one of their favorite episodes from Season 1 where they explore and listen to some student stories around their experiences with project-based learning (PBL); have an interview with a project-based learning STEM teacher of Flight by Design; as well as hear from education leaders in the project-based world, Bob Lenz and John Larmer of Buck Institute for Education (BIE). The students in Flight by...


170 - Randy Ziegenfuss on Teacher Leadership and Student-Centered Learning

If you follow education social media, you’ve probably heard of Salisbury Superintendent, Randy Ziegenfuss. Randy has been the Superintendent for almost four years but prior to that held different roles in education, teaching music and technology. Over the last few years, he’s become a leading advocate of learner-centered education and blogs all about it at With his Assistant Superintendent, Randy has also produced more than 40 episodes of the Shift Your Paradigm...


169 - Teaching Design Thinking to Hack School and Prep for Complexity

In this episode of the Getting Smart podcast, Tom interviews Sam Seidel, the Director of K12 Strategy and Research at the Stanford, to discuss how he and his team are teaching design thinking in order to hack school and prep youth for complexity. They talk about Sam’s early education and whether or not he had any experiences that resembled design thinking, what the K12 lab at Stanford does, about his previous work at the Business Innovation Factory (BIF), and his (and...


168 - Giving the Gift of Place with Teton Science Schools

Today, Tom and Emily are taking you on a virtual field trip to Murie Ranch in Grand Teton National Park. Over the last year and a half, you may have seen a ton of blogs (from the Getting Smart website) on place-based education. The Getting Smart team is extremely passionate about this topic — so passionate in fact, that they’re currently writing a field guide to place-based learning, and they’re doing it with experts in the field at Teton Science Schools in Jackson, Wyoming. Tom and Emily...


167 - Design as an Active Service with Rie Nøorgaard of SYPartners

Today, Tom has a discussion with Rie Nøorgaard. Growing up in Denmark, Rie found design integrated into her life. After completing a design degree at the Danish School of Media and Journalism, she spent a decade as a Creative Director for several agencies. Three years ago, she joined San Francisco-based SYPartners, a consulting firm that behaves like a design firm. Clients of SYPartners include AT&T, eBay, Facebook, IBM, Google, and non-profits such as PBS and Planned Parenthood. What led...


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...