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Getting Smart Podcast

Jul 25, 2018

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 their goals.


In this episode, Tom and Lydia discuss and share their ideas on a variety of topics from their book, Better Together; talk about some of their favorite school districts that use networks; and how the use of networks is transforming schools.


Listen in to learn more about their work, ideas, and their new book, Better Together!


Key Takeaways:

[:14] About today’s podcast and guest.

[1:11] About Tom and Lydia’s early careers and changes in the industry from technology.

[5:20] When Tom and Lydia started thinking about networks and education.

[7:06] How and when Lydia found out about New Tech Network.

[9:43] About Tom and Lydia’s book, Better Together.

[10:36] Tom and Lydia’s opinions on the Platform Revolution.

[18:04] Lydia describes what a typical New Tech looks like it and how it works.

[21:50] Lydia’s favorite team-taught courses.

[23:13] What it’s like to teach at New Tech, how teachers are connected, and how learning is promoted across the network.

[26:45] The networks Lydia has collaborated with over the last several years.

[29:25] Mentionable charter management organizations.

[30:59] Mentionable school districts that operate like networks.

[32:10] Districts that use a portfolio strategy and use multiple networks.

[32:49] What makes a good district and the next big learning for district leaders.

[36:00] Lydia summarizes how leading in a network is different.

[38:38] Tom and Lydia summarize their book, Better Together.


Mentioned in This Episode:

New Tech Network

Better Together: How to Leverage School Networks For Smarter Personalized and Project Based Learning, by Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns

High Tech High

New Tech High

New Tech Network


Big Picture Learning

EL Education

New Visions for Public Schools

Brooklyn Lab School

Kettle Moraine School District

Denver Public Schools

DSST Public Schools

STRIVE Preparatory Schools

Rocky Mountain Prep

Beacon Network Schools

League of Innovative Schools

Remake Learning

Avonworth School District

El Paso Independent School District


To Learn More:

Check out and for a ton of great blogs and information about working in a network.


Get Involved:

Check out the blog at

Find the Getting Smart Podcast on iTunes, leave a review and subscribe.


Is There Somebody You’ve Been Wanting to Learn From or a Topic You’d Like Covered?

To get in contact: Email and include ‘Podcast’ in the subject line.

The Getting Smart team will be sure to add them to their list!


Over the next year, The Getting Smart team will be pulling together workshops to explore the power of school networks. Email or click on the Services tab on to learn more.