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Getting Smart Podcast

Jan 17, 2018

In today’s episode, Tom interviews Marie Bjerede, a former tech executive who is an advocate for student agency. Marie was a former Vice President for Chip Maker Qualcomm and is a 25-year veteran of high tech and wireless communication. She has pioneered new management strategies, has led a design center for Qualcomm, and has a unique appreciation for jobs of the future. She’s the President of Agentic Learning and since leaving the tech field she’s been doing work for the One-to-One Institute and CoSN (the Consortium for School Networking).


In this discussion, you’ll hear Marie describe the skills that will be important in five years from now and what schools can do to plan for these skills that will be necessary for students to have mastered.

Tom and Marie also discuss the importance of student agency, as well as her recommendations for launching successful initiatives to promote both teacher and student agency.


Key Takeaways:

[:51] Tom welcomes Marie to the podcast and she speaks a bit about her upbringing and what brought her to the States from Sweden.

[1:50] Marie’s current work with organizations on education technology.

[2:25] The story on Marie becoming Qualcomm’s Vice President and the skills it took to get the position.

[4:47] Marie’s perspective on being one of the few female managers and executives in technology.

[5:35] The key to Marie’s development in her career.

[7:21] The genesis of Marie’s interest in human development and education.

[8:34] Preparing young people for the future; Marie’s advice to teenagers as they enter the workforce.

[10:00] The importance of agency today and why it’ll be even more important five years from now.

[15:21] Why high agency learning initiatives can end up not being as successful as hoped and where typical district initiatives launching project-based learning are falling short.

[19:06] Why Marie believes it’s key to first develop teacher agency.

[20:47] Marie’s view on teacher’s focusing on either; remaining devoted to a handful of identified outcomes, or being open to a new set of new possibilities.

[23:05] How Marie describes her ideal high school learning experience.

[25:05] Self-organizing teams: Marie’s alternative to constructing organizations where teachers don’t feel oppressed or abandoned.

[28:00] Marie’s suggestions for how to construct the self-organizing team initiative in a sustainable way.

[32:30] Where to find out more about Marie’s work.


Mentioned in This Episode:

One-to-One Institute



Tony Wagner


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink

Marie’s Getting Smart Blog Posts


Suggested Reading:

If you enjoyed this conversation and want to learn more, check out:

What is Agentic Learning and Why is it Important,” by Marie Bjerede and Michael Gielniak


Get Involved:

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