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EdSurge Podcast

A weekly podcast about the future of learning. Join host Jeff Young and other EdSurge reporters as they sit down with educators, innovators and scholars for frank and in-depth conversations.

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A Student Perspective on Blended Learning

We hear about edtech from the perspective of entrepreneurs and educators. But what about the viewpoint of a student?This week, EdSurge hears from Kaela Quinto, a rising sophomore at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in San Jose, CA. Kaela's experiences with blended learning completely changed the way she thinks about math—but we'll let her tell you herself.


26 Jun 2015

Rank #1

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Does Tech Support Personalized Learning—or Distract Us From What’s Really Important?

“Personalized learning” is a term that is no stranger to interpretation—even to the point that writers have started to argue about whether it’s worth defining or not (just check out here and here.) But no matter how a school or district defines it, is it worth including technology in that definition—or does edtech merely distract educators from understanding and delivering on what students really need?In early March, three education research experts—Eileen Rudden of Boston’s LearnLaunch, Chris Liang-Vergara of Chicago’s LEAP Innovations, and Muhammed Chaudhry of the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley Education Foundation—joined EdSurge on a panel to discuss the very answer to this muddy and oftentimes challenging question. Check it out on this edition of the EdSurge podcast!

1hr 3mins

9 May 2017

Rank #2

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What Schools Could Be—and What Education Investors Get Wrong

Does this sound familiar? An Ivy League-educated philanthropist, who built his wealth from a career in technology, decides to champion education as his next cause—under the belief that today’s schools are not adequately preparing the next generation for the future.We’re not talking about Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. Rather, meet Ted Dintersmith, who has spent nearly 20 years as a partner at Charles River Ventures, an early-stage investment firm. These days, he’s no longer spending time in company boardrooms, but rather in schools and classrooms.


13 Mar 2018

Rank #3

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How Childhood Has Changed (And How That Impacts Education)

It’s easy to forget that notions of childhood have changed radically over the years—and not all for the better, says Steven Mintz, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “Helicopter parenting” and habits around carefully guarding, protecting and scheduling kids have their downsides.The history of the American family and childhood is an area Mintz has long studied. And he keeps that perspective in mind as he works to keep college teaching practices up to date in his other role, as the executive director of the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning.EdSurge sat down with Mintz a few months ago to talk about kids today, and about why he thinks higher education is going through a once-in-a-generational transformation to respond to how they’ve changed. The conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity. We encourage you to listen to a complete version below, or on iTunes (or your favorite podcast app).


11 Jul 2017

Rank #4

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Social-Emotional Learning May Be A Limited Solution for Reforming School Discipline

The United States Government Accountability Office recently released a report confirming decades of anecdotal research saying, among other things, that Black male students who account for 15.5 percent of all public school kids, represented about 39 percent of students suspended from school. That is an overrepresentation of about 23 percentage points. This report also found that students with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined in public schools. To change this trend, some educators are looking to implement social-emotional learning (SEL) practices such as restorative justice—where students repair harm done with community service or discussions—and daily greetings, where teachers build relationships with students by addressing them each morning. But researchers following school districts who have implemented such practices, note that SEL practices hold “limited promise” for changing trends in school discipline because notions inherent in much of the pedagogy don’t consider power, privilege and cultural differences. To discuss his research on this topic, Edward Fergus, an assistant professor at Temple University, joined reporter Jenny Abamu on the EdSurge OnAir podcast.


10 Apr 2018

Rank #5

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Why Competency-Based Education Stalled (But Isn’t Finished)

The phrase competency-based education is quite a mouthful, but it was all the rage a few years ago among college leaders looking to expand access to their programs. The idea can sound radical, since it often involves doing away with courses as we know them, to focus on having students prove they can master a series of skills or concepts one at a time. It’s safe to say that competency-based education hasn’t caught on as widely as its promoters hoped, and these days you don’t hear that much about it. In part that’s because some serious questions have been raised about the model.So what’s up with CBE, as it’s known? To try to find out, we talked with one of the pioneers of bringing the approach to a traditional university, Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, which a few years ago started a competency-based program called College for America. And LeBlanc has helped shape policy around CBE on a national level as well. In 2015 he spent a few months on leave from Southern New Hampshire to advise the U.S. Department of Education.He has some surprising things to say about competency-based education, including that he’s learned not to call it that with students. He talked about how he does explain it, and where he thinks the trend is going.


1 May 2018

Rank #6

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Many Frustrated Teachers Say It’s Not Burnout—It’s Demoralization

A few years ago, after more two decades in the classroom, Chrissy Romano-Arribito began to experience something that may sound familiar to a lot of teachers: burnout. Or not burnout, exactly, but demoralization. Experts like Bowdoin College education chair Doris Santoro, author of the book “Demoralized,” note that as systemic pressure, such as top-down initiatives or punitive evaluation systems, crowd out teacher autonomy, they feel they can no longer tap into what “makes their work morally good.”


19 Nov 2019

Rank #7

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Why Social-Emotional Learning Is Suddenly in the Spotlight

In the last few years, terms like “whole child” and “social-emotional learning” have become buzzwords. But behind the buzzwords are programs, often led and managed by schools, that take into account all the different things a child needs to be able to learn and grow, even if those things reach outside the traditional roles of a school. EdSurge sat down with Christina Cipriano, the director of research at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a research scientist at the Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine.


7 May 2019

Rank #8

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Apple’s Longtime Education VP Shares Frustrations With Slow Pace of Change

People love to try to figure out what Apple is up to and to guess their strategy—that’s true for its education strategy as well. But often there’s not much to go on beyond press releases and speculation.So when Apple’s longtime vice-president of education, John Couch, published a book this year with his thoughts on the future of education and accounts of his work at Apple, it opened a rare window into how the company’s views on education.The book is called Rewiring Education: How Technology Can Unlock Every Student's Potential. And yes, it does offer some anecdotes about how Steve Jobs thought about computers in education, including how he referred to computers as an “amplifier for intellect” the same way a bicycle amplifies the physical push of the rider. In the book, Couch writes that Jobs predicted this mental bicycle would “allow us to go beyond—to discover, create and innovate like never before.” But the book is also full of frustration—at what Couch sees as the slow pace of change at schools. He’s essentially arguing that these machines Apple has built are still not being used to their full potential in education.EdSurge talked with Couch about his time at Apple and where he sees the company going next in education.


31 Jul 2018

Rank #9

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The Evolving World of Microcredentials

Many colleges these days are experimenting with short-form online degrees to try to reach new audiences and offer new options, often at a lower cost. And new upstart providers are also getting into the mix, including coding bootcamps and startups like Udacity, which offers unaccredited nanodegrees. These trends raise a host of questions about the future of credentialing.To explore some of these questions, EdSurge recently held an hour-long video forum featuring two guests: Sean Gallagher, the founder and executive director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy and author of the book, The Future of University Credentials; and Nicola Soares, vice president and managing director for Kelly Educational Staffing at Kelly Services, who has her finger on the pulse of employment and hiring trends.


23 Jan 2018

Rank #10

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This Accelerator Seeks To Scale Equity in Schools

Caroline Hill is a firecracker. She keynoted the Blended Learning Conference in Rhode Island and INACOL in Florida. At both events she asked educators to challenge their notions of the use of technology in the classrooms and their conversations around equity. She has been a DC educator for years, but is now embarking on a new venture, creating an accelerator with the goal of scaling equity. She hopes to combine the start-up mentality of the edtech world with social justice issues in a really unique way.


17 Jul 2018

Rank #11

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Why Professors Doubt Education Research

Lauren Herckis, an anthropologist and research faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, has been exploring the culture of teaching at colleges and what makes professors try new teaching practices or, in some cases, resist them.


6 Mar 2018

Rank #12

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The Future of K-12 School Post-Coronavirus

Today we’re looking at what K-12 schools could look like after social distancing is over and people reassess what they want from our school systems. To do that we talked with Simon Rodberg, who has been the principal of a charter school in DC, and is the author of a forthcoming book from ACSD called "What If I’m Wrong? and Other Key Questions for Decisive School Leadership."


2 Apr 2020

Rank #13

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Lessons From Flipped Classrooms and Flipped Failures

Robert Talbert, a math professor at Grand Valley State University, talks about his new book on flipped learning—a method catching on these days in college classrooms. He describes it as a new philosophy of teaching. Unlike the lecture model, in which students first encountering new material in the classroom, in the flipped model the students’ first encounter with the material happens outside of class, usually in the form of video lectures. And class time is used for more interactive activities that encourage students to apply what they’re learning while the professor is there to step in and help if necessary. EdSurge sat down with Talbert to talk about his experiences, and why he thinks more research universities are taking teaching more seriously these days.


9 Aug 2017

Rank #14

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Who Does Online Learning Really Serve?

Online education has been touted as a way to increase access to education. But it’s increasingly unclear if online learning is living up to its promise for students, even as digital learning makes its way into more institutions’ offerings. The quality of online courses still varies drastically, and research shows there are major racial disparities in digital-learning outcomes. This has all left us asking: Who does online education really serve?To help answer that question, we recently brought two online learning experts to EdSurge Live, a monthly video-based town hall event, to talk about their work and research in online education, and what’s needed to better serve students in the digital space. Our guests were Michelle Pacansky-Brock, faculty mentor for the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative and @ONE (Online Network of Educators), and Di Xu an assistant professor at UC Irvine School of Education.


11 Sep 2018

Rank #15

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Beware of the Word ‘Flexible’: Architect Danish Kurani on Designing 21st Century Schools

“Flexible.” It’s a word that often pops up in conversations about redesigning learning environments, relating to choices in furniture or movable walls. But according to Danish Kurani, redesigning 21st century classrooms goes much deeper than merely achieving flexibility—it involves going all the way back to considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.Kurani is a licensed architect who focuses his work on learning spaces, and currently teaches a “Learning Environments for Tomorrow” course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education every year. Having worked on locations ranging from Denver’s Columbine Elementary to SELNY, a psychotherapy clinic and adult learning center in New York, Kurani has seen and used a variety of tactics to implement learning design in pursuit of specific goals.This week, EdSurge sat down with him to hear about the most common design constraints, architecture gone wrong, and the work his firm recently conducted on the Code Next Lab in Oakland.


6 Apr 2017

Rank #16

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How This Famed Chinese Venture Capitalist Thinks AI Will Reshape Teaching

Artificial intelligence promises to have a dramatic—and yes, disruptive—effect on education and over jobs during the next decade. And here’s a second big trend—the role of China and Chinese companies, particularly those building products or services laced with the machine learning algorithms that we call “AI.”If you wanted to get a glimpse into what these twin forces mean for the world—and for education and learning—there's perhaps no better expert than Kai-Fu Lee. Dr. Lee has done it all: He’s been an enormously influential researcher, driving forward work on AI. Originally from Taiwan, he came the US at age 11 and went on to earn degrees from Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon University. He then went on to have pivotal roles at Apple, Microsoft and Google, serving as president of Google China. He started a venture capital firm in 2009 based in Beijing called Sinoventures. He’s written eight top-selling books in China and has more than 50 million followers on social media.His latest book, AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New world order, is almost two books in one: It tells the story of the development of artificial intelligence and why we should pay attention to this work. And he does a remarkably deft job of describing entrepreneurism in China, and giving us a peek at what he calls the “gladiator capitalism” that is giving rise to companies with billion dollar valuations and the power to change the world. It’s already hitting the best-seller charts.EdSurge caught up with Dr. Lee in California over a Saturday morning breakfast in Palo Alto. Here’s why Dr. Lee believes that AI—and particularly AI developed by Chinese companies—is fated to rock our world, and how we learn.


11 Dec 2018

Rank #17

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Why Talking About ‘Screen Time’ Is the Wrong Conversation

Today we’re diving into this issue of screen time, with a guest who for years has tracked research about the impact of screen media on children and young people. She’s Lisa Guernsey, director of the Teaching, Learning, and Tech program at New America. She says she has a better way to think about regulating tech, including a model of how educators and librarians can become better mentors for students and parents.


11 Feb 2020

Rank #18

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Reactions to a College Alternative: Debating the Merits of MissionU

A for-profit startup recently launched what it calls an alternative to traditional college, that takes only one year to complete, is advised closely by big-name employers, and that costs nothing at first, though students have to later pay back a portion of their incomes. What’s missing are the general-education curriculum. It’s called MissionU, and the reaction has been mixed, and passionate. Some academics have trashed it as a kind of employment service passing itself off as education. While others have praised it for trying to shake up the higher education system. For this week’s EdSurge On Air podcast, we decided to try something different. We put together a virtual panel discussion, inviting people with a variety of views on MissionU to face off—including its founder, and a critic. Our hope was to start a dialogue and get beyond misperceptions on both sides. That means that the episode is a bit longer than usual, but it gets pretty lively, and we hope you’ll listen through to the end.


18 Apr 2017

Rank #19

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The Case For a ‘Networked' College

The campus of the future will be “networked,” argues Peter Smith, meaning that more and more academic-related services will be outsourced. That, in theory, will allow each campus to focus its energies on what it can do best and turn to outside companies and nonprofits for the rest. It’s a key claim in his new book, “Free-Range Learning in the Digital Age: The Emerging Revolution in College, Career, and Education,” due out next month, and it’s one that might unsettle college administrators accustomed to directly overseeing more campus services in-house.Smith has a unique perspective on innovation in education. He has led experimental colleges, including designing and launching the Community College of Vermont back in 1970, and becoming the founding president of California State University at Monterey Bay in 1994. He’s also been a force in politics, having served as a state senator in Vermont, Lieutenant Governor in that state, and then a U.S. Congressman. These days he’s back in higher education, as a professor of innovative practices in higher education at the University of Maryland University College. EdSurge sat down with Smith last month at the ASU+GSV Summit on the future of education, as part of our EdSurge Live video discussion series.


10 May 2018

Rank #20