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Getting Smart Podcast

Sep 12, 2018

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 Students’ Networks, she explores the importance of social capital. She emphasizes the idea that who you know matters greatly in terms of a child’s success in the future.


In this podcast, Julia shares information about her new book and describes innovative approaches to helping young people develop social networks. She also speaks about the process of writing the book as well as her journey that got her to this point.


Children's networks — their reservoir of social capital and ability to bank on that capital for support, advice, or opportunities down the line — remains largely determined by random luck: the luck of where children are born, whom their parents know, and whom they happen to end up sitting next to in class.” — Julia Freeland Fisher (Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students’ Networks)


Key Takeaways:

[:19] About today’s topic and guest.

[1:19] Tom welcomes Julia to the podcast.

[1:40] About Julia’s early education.

[3:49] Where Julia’s interest in Latin studies came from.

[5:07] Why Julia went to law school.

[6:12] Where Julia’s interest in education came from.

[7:55] What led Julia to the Clayton Christensen Institute.

[9:07] Julia gives a brief explanation on what disruptive innovation is.

[10:32] How did the leading voice for personalized and blended learning decide to study social capital?

[13:03] What Tom was surprised to learn from Julia’s book, Who You Know.

[14:54] Tom reads a quote from Who You Know that sums up the equity issue and Julia explains it more thoroughly.

[16:02] Innovations Julia has seen that have helped to expand students’ networks.

[18:02] Julia’s thoughts on virtual mentoring networks.

[20:10] About the iNACOL Book Party with Lydia, Tom, and Julia.

[20:35] Does Julia think virtual reality is going to play a role in introducing young people to career opportunities?

[21:56] Julia explains online connecting offline.

[23:10] Julia explains integrated student services.

[25:19] How do we make social capital more important? How do we create time in busy, secondary schedules for things like mentorships and work-based learning?

[27:26] Julia describes key differences between a traditional high school and one that is aiming toward building social capital.

[33:54] About Julia’s experience co-authoring with her husband.

[35:19] How, when and where did Julia write?

[36:15] What is Julia’s next book on?

[37:29] What has been humbling for Julia while she has been giving talks on the book?


Mentioned in This Episode:

Julia Freeland Fishers LinkedIn

Clayton Christensen Institute

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns,

by Clayton Christensen, Curtis W. Johnson, and Michael B. Horn

Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students Networks,

by Julia Freeland Fisher and Daniel Fisher

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

NewSchools Venture Fund

Community Share


Del Lago Academy

One Stone


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