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Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World Hardcover – October 18, 2011

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1118007235 ISBN-10: 1118007239 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"I am convinced that there is an amazing new world of education right around the corner—engaging learning experiences for students, an exciting future for learning professionals, and productive options for families. This book is also a call to join me as an advocate for innovation in learning as the key to lifting the achievement of U.S. students and reaching the next billion young people worldwide."
From the Preface

Our digital age has prompted the need for radical new ways of learning that touch students, teachers, and parents. In Getting Smart, well-known global education expert Tom Vander Ark examines the various facets of educational innovation in the United States and abroad. Vander Ark—a former business executive, school superintendent, and foundation director—makes a convincing case for a new model of education that blends online and on-site learning. Vander Ark explains that through the use of technology it is now possible to provide 24/7 access to learning and increase student engagement. This new model can be cost effective, even doubling productivity for students who are struggling. By customizing learning—teaching the right way at the right level—each hour of learning can become more effective for all students at all levels.

Throughout this inspirational book, Vander Ark shares real-world stories of schools and programs that offer effective "personal digital learning" opportunities. In addition, Getting Smart spells out a vision of what it will take to transform our schools into "smart schools" that blend models, extend learning, and leverage community resources.

From the Back Cover

Praise for Getting Smart

"Provocative and bold, Tom Vander Ark's Getting Smart challenges long-held assumptions about education, points to why innovation will be so critical to enabling the education system of the future, and paints a vision of what learning could look like throughout society—and how we so desperately need it."
Michael B. Horn, executive director, Education of Innosight Institute;and coauthor, Disrupting Class

"Tom Vander Ark thinks public education ought to join the twenty-first century. In this visionary book about a new and much more effective way to educate our kids, he explains the potential impact of the digital revolution on education—a learning transformation that is inevitable, even though it's now still in its infancy. Finally, an education reform book filled with hope, accompanied by a clear articulation of the way forward."
Joel Klein, CEO, Educational Division, News Corporation

"Tom Vander Ark's analysis of the interrelationships between student needs, experiences, schools, and opportunity through innovations is thought provoking and 'wicked smart.' Vander Ark illuminates a pathway that is rational and intelligent—synthesizing the opportunities for adults to get smarter in serving our aspiring youth."
Susan Patrick, president and CEO, iNACOL

"As usual, Tom Vander Ark is right on target. Blended learning will change how and what we teach and how and what students learn. Tomorrow has suddenly become today!"
Terry Grier, superintendent, Houston ISD


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118007239
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118007235
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Vander Ark is the author of Getting Smart and blogs daily at

Tom is also CEO of Open Education Solutions, a blended learning service provider and a partner in Learn Capital, a venture capital firm investing in learning content, platforms, and services with the goal of transforming educational engagement, access, and effectiveness.

Previously he served as President of the X PRIZE Foundation and was the Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tom was the first business executive to serve as public school superintendent in Washington State. A prolific writer and speaker, Tom has published thousands of articles and blogs. In December 2006, Newsweek readers voted Tom the most influential baby boomer in education.

Tom chairs the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), and serves on the board of LA's Promise and Strive for College.

Tom received the Distinguished Achievement Medal and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines. He received his M.B.A. in finance from the University of Denver. He continues his education online.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark P. McDonald VINE VOICE on September 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Getting Smart expresses Tom Vander Ark's vision for a future education system built on the realities of current and new technology. It is a future vision that most educators will not like, nor will find easy to support. It is a vision that makes you think and a great illustration on the ability of new technologies to drive a different view of the future based on new fundamentals.

The technologies Vander Ark discusses are, on one hand, a continuation of current consumer technology trends and, on the other, a revolution to the educational status quo. The book provides a strong, coherent and well-argued point of view that covers not only the application of technology to learning but also the implications of that application on the entire education system.

Learning is the operative idea in Vander Ark's book. Learning in terms of the outcome technology supports, what students actually do and the future of a re-imagined education system. The book can be divided into these two areas.

The first part of the book, chapters 1 - 6, concentrates on technology and the changing learning environment. Vander Ark describes how learning is different in an environment where it is self-paced, self directed and open to the best materials available. Vander Ark covers the impact of adding social networking and gaming to the learning process in ways that drive beyond what you may think of as traditional learning management systems.

The technologies Vander Ark foresees are not Internet applications that facilitate teaching (ala Blackboard) but consumer technologies that facilitate exploration, learning and demonstration of mastery at the individual level.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By eCognition VINE VOICE on September 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As someone who's always been interested in the future of digital learning, I was very interested in reading this book. I wanted some detailed information on the individual technologies involved, along with the various pedagogical methods and how those individual technologies fit within the pedagogical framework. The ideas presented here have already been presented in other recent books on digital learning and have been done in a more coherent and usable format, at that. Oh, and in a less repetitive form, as well. For a book this short, you'll expect a little more "bang for your buck".

It's a book that touts the incredible benefits of future digital learning (something most probably already know), mentions the current players in the field of digital online learning (here today, more than likely gone tomorrow; although the ideas, themselves, will stay relevant), while ignoring the cultural issues behind the abysmal educational system (as a native of la, I can assure you, the lack of technology is NOT the problem). While the book is about digital learning and doesn't market itself as a book on why the system is failing, the author repeatedly blames the ills of the current educational system on the system of learning itself, which is why I mention it. Keeping the student engaged is primarily a self-motivational factor and has very little to do with the media that the education is presented in (although a non-engaged student will look outside himself/herself for the reasons why they don't care and tell you differently). You only need to point to India and China as prime examples.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JK VINE VOICE on June 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was pretty excited by the title of this book, but my excitement very quickly turned to disappointment. I felt like this book read like a giant white paper for Mr. Vander Ark's company and those who are in the business of profiting from the education industry. In fairness of full disclosure, I am an advocate of public education and do not buy into the whole movement to privatize education which the No Child Left Behind debacle and school "choice" advocates are ultimately pushing. If we are honest about the lack of progress in education, one only need follow the money - more has gone to private enterprise than at any other time in our history, so we should all be asking where's the improvement? Also, having lived in a another country where education was privatized, it was abundantly clear how much that type of system exacerbates the separation of classes making education really only available to the elite few. However, I am also a big believer in the power of technology in the classroom and Mr. Vander Ark's book covers many of the benefits, but does so only using antidotes, quotes and tidbits as opposed to any in-depth observations and analysis. The title is definitely misleading, it doesn't describe how digital learning is changing the world; it is an update on advancements and efforts being made by many to figure out how to effectively bring technology into the classroom along with some business-speak acronyms. I almost felt this book was derived from some PowerPoint presentation as opposed to any real research.

Mr. Vander Ark starts his book off immediately faulting school administration and school board trustees for preventing entrepreneurs from making inroads into schools. I'm sure Mr.
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