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Event Summary

Are new digital devices the key to creating 21st-century schools? While education technology is a tool to help students learn, it is not by itself a solution to learning challenges, concluded Bror Saxberg of Kaplan Inc. at an AEI event on Thursday. The event marked the launch of “Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age,” a new book coauthored by Saxberg and AEI’s Frederick M. Hess.

Saxberg opened the panel discussion by urging education leaders to use what we know about learning science (how students learn) to inform how they design classes and schools. In response, Mark Edwards of  Mooresville (NC) Graded School District described his district’s pioneering efforts integrating technology into the classroom, which have received national attention and allow students to see a connection between their classroom work and futures.

Rick Ogston  of Carpe Diem Schools stressed the importance of making all technology student-centric, which can provide each student with customized instruction. Finally, Rosa Atkins  of Charlottesville (VA) City Schools explained that bumps in the road are an inevitable part of technology implementation no matter how much planning is done, and emphasized the role of communication. Despite their diverse backgrounds, the panel agreed that education technology is only successful when the right culture is fostered and students’ needs come first.
–Daniel Lautzenheiser

Event Description

Today’s amplified focus on digital tools and solutions can make it seem as if a quick trip to the Apple Store will answer the many problems educators face in the classroom. But today’s teachers and principals realize that the solution goes beyond the new devices themselves.

In their new book, “Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age” (Corwin, October 2014), Rick Hess and Bror Saxberg argue that the answer lies with “learning engineers,” or education leaders who can change the classroom conversation from, “what shiny, new products should we buy?” to, “how are these new tools helping solve my problem?”

At this book launch event, Hess and Saxberg will be joined by other experts in the field to discuss how technology can help redesign schooling to better serve kids, and the challenges of doing so in a static system with traditional (and often antiquated) routines.

We welcome you to watch the event live on this page and join the conversation on Twitter with #DigLeadership or through AEI’s live blog. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.



8:45 AM

9:00 AM
Rosa Atkins, Superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools
Mark Edwards, Superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District
Rick Ogston, Carpe Diem Schools
Bror Saxberg, Kaplan Inc.

Frederick M. Hess, AEI

10:15 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Lauren Empson at [email protected], 202.862.5859.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Rosa Atkins became superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools in July 2006. She is committed to the proposition that America is strong and vibrant because of its public school system. Her breadth of experience spans urban, suburban, and rural settings. Atkins has worked closely with refugee and homeless children. In 2011, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) named Atkins the Region V Superintendent of the Year. She then went on to earn superintendent of the year for the state of Virginia. That same year, she was honored as Virginia State University Alumnus of the Year for Professional Education. She also served as president of the Women Education Leaders in Virginia from 2010 to 2011. Currently, Atkins serves on the VASS Board of Directors, is past chair of their Region V Superintendents Study Group, is vice president of the Urban Superintendents Association of America, and sits on a number of local, state, and national committees and boards. Her career in public education includes serving as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of leadership development, director of instruction, and assistant superintendent.

Mark Edwards currently serves as superintendent of the Mooresville Graded School District (MGSD) in North Carolina. Previously, Edwards was superintendent of the Danville and Henrico districts in Virginia. He is the 2013 North Carolina superintendent of the year and the American Association of School Administrators national superintendent of the year. He was also Virginia’s superintendent of the year and was a recipient of the Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education. In September 2013, Common Sense Media named Edwards its 2013 Educator of the Year. He began his career in education as a science teacher in Brooksville, Florida.  For more than 30 years, he has served students in Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, and North Carolina as teacher, assistant principal, principal, dean, and most recently, superintendent. Mark Edwards, considered a pioneer of one-to-one computing in public schools, is the author of “Every Child, Every Day: A Digital Conversion Model for Student Achievement” (Pearson, 2013). He is currently leading his second district one-to-one laptop initiative, equipping 6000 MGSD students with 21st-century tools via laptops, interactive boards, and iPads.

Frederick M. Hess is resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI. An educator, political scientist, and author, Hess studies a range of K–12 and higher education issues. He pens the Education Week blog Rick Hess Straight Up and has authored influential books on education including “Cage-Busting Leadership” (Harvard Education Press, 2013), “The Same Thing Over and Over” (Harvard University Press, 2010), “Education Unbound” (ASCD, 2010), “Common Sense School Reform” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), “Revolution at the Margins” (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), and “Spinning Wheels” (Brookings Institution Press, 1998). He has edited widely cited volumes on education philanthropy, urban school reform, how to stretch the school dollar, education entrepreneurship, what we have learned about the federal role in education reform, and No Child Left Behind. He also serves as executive editor of Education Next; as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program; on the Review Board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education; and on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 4.0 Schools, and the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence. A former high-school social studies teacher, Hess has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Harvard University.

Rick Ogston is the founder and designer of the original Carpe Diem in Arizona and its nationally recognized educational model. He has worked with the model for nearly a decade, perfecting the processes, technology, curriculum, assessments, and staff development necessary to assure high quality consistent with student results.  Ogston is also CEO of Carpe Diem Learning Systems, a management company, and has opened additional schools in Indiana and Ohio and was just recommended for a Texas charter by the Texas education commissioner. He has been called upon to represent the transformative impact of blended and personalized learning on education reform shows such as “Education Nation” and in specials on education such as “Fox News Reporting: Fixing Our Schools.” Ogston has been intensely involved in building relationships, understanding challenges, and building partnerships for better education in Arizona, Indiana, Ohio, and Texas.

Bror Saxberg is the chief learning officer at Kaplan Inc., where he is responsible for the research and development of innovative learning strategies, technologies, and products across Kaplan’s full range of educational services offerings. He also oversees future developments and adoptions of innovative learning technologies and maintains consistent academic standards for Kaplan’s products and courses. Saxberg most recently served as senior vice president and chief learning officer at K12 Inc., where he was responsible for designing both online and offline learning environments and developing new student products and services. Before joining K12, he was vice president at Knowledge Universe, where he cofounded the testing and assessment division that became known as Knowledge Testing Enterprise. Saxberg began his career at McKinsey & Company and later served as vice president and general manager for London-based DK Multimedia, part of DK Publishing, an education and reference publisher.

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