No Such Thing: K12 Education in the Digital Age

A podcast about the promise and reality of learning with technology

The show is about learning with technology, but it's not the same old EdTech or "STEM" preachery. It's about the realities and exciting potential, but it's also about youth and the practitioners who support them: youth d... More

If Grades Were Hyperlinks, Live Update

Ep. 71

Our conversation here takes place at the National Summit for Excel In Ed - from their website, Launched by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush in 2008, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) supports state leaders in transforming education to unlock opportunity and lifelong success for each and every child.

I was grateful to join my colleagues from NAF (known widely as the National Academy Foundation) in hosting a roundtable discussion at the conference aimed at illuminating new practices in credentialing, in this case one that is local to where we gathered in San Diego, CA. My guests, Alec and Carissa, represent Del Lago academy, only 30 minutes north of where we sat together in a windowless ballroom only a hundred yards or so from the harbor. My first episode with Alec - number 28 - was titled "If Grades Were Hyperlinks" and is one of the most downloaded episodes of the show. When I found out that we'd be in San Diego to discuss credentialing, I had to reach out and see if we could get an update and hear - more than a year after the initial episode - how Del Lago is fairing with this project, which even in the most forward-thinking school district would be a scuffle to reframe the purpose and tactics with which we recognize learners' acquisition of skills.

Carissa Duran is an Aurora Institute, Personalized Learning, Teacher of the Year and Guest Teacher at Del Lago Academy

Carissa Duran is a teacher and instructional coach for literacy, language development, and educational technology at Del Lago Academy in California. She is committed to educational justice and uses innovative pedagogy and assessment practices to improve the engagement, empowerment, and success of historically marginalized students.

Alec Barron is the founding Principal Investigator for Competency X, and is a curriculum and professional learning specialist in the Escondido (California) Union High School District. He completed a social justice-based Education Doctorate in Leadership for Educational Equity with the University of Colorado Denver. Dr. Barron leads Competency X, an assessment practice for workforce-informed performance tasks that was developed to broaden access to college and career opportunities. The “X” is how learners choose to curate evidence of their learning and reflect on how it represents success with competencies. The idea was developed at Del Lago Academy in Escondido, California, to help students access the life science workforce. Currently, the project is using a Phase 2 award, with funding by the Bill & Melinda Gates and Hewlett foundations to pilot a competency-based articulation approach to broaden access to college credit and paid internships for high school students.

Notes from this Episode:

Competency X:

Excel In Ed:


Project Invent: Programs and Tools for Engineering Impact

Ep. 70

In Project Invent, high school students invent technologies that solve real-world problems. We train mentors, publish resources, run events, and connect communities to ensure students are getting a transformative learning opportunity through inventing a change. "Inventing Change," doesn't that sound more like the class you'd envision for young learners in the digital age?

Project Invent empowers students with the 21st century skills to succeed individually and impact globally. The goal is to create a generation of fearless problem solvers.

Connie Liu

Founder, Project Invent

Connie is a mechanical engineer from MIT, passionate educator, and founder of Project Invent. She most recently taught design thinking & engineering at The Nueva School. Now, she runs Project Invent to inspire high school students nationwide to invent technologies that make a difference. She is also an inventor herself, creating assistive technologies to empower those with disabilities.

Justin Buys

Justin Buys is a student in Apex, North Carolina, who has a passion for engineering and computer sciences. Justin has spent over 4 years learning and working with Autodesk applications. Currently he is part of a team working to create assistive products for people with ambulatory disabilities. In his spare time he enjoys mountain biking, reading, and working with his Boy Scout troop. Sambo Mockbee

Claire Powell

Claire Powell is studying engineering and business at Illinois Institute of Technology. During high school, Claire participated in robotics, rebuilt an engine, and customized a motorcycle. She is currently participating in a model airplane competition and works on the propulsion team. Her favorite type of music is heavy metal, and she loves the snow.

Project Invent: 

Project Invent:

Connie Lieu, Forbes 30-Under-30, Education:

The documentary is called "Citizen Architect". Here's a link to it's website:

Also its Amazon page:

POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome):


Programming Languages, a Travelogue for Non-Programmers

Ep. 68

I'm fascinated by this analogy that came up in a recent episode about being dropped in a new place without language. So I want this episode to be a travel guide. Let's drop into different places and talk about what makes the languages of code relevant in that space.

Meg Ray is a computer science education consultant. Meg teaches education courses at NYU and Hunter College. She was the founding Teacher in Residence at Cornell Tech were she was responsible for the design and implementation of a coaching program for K-8 CS teachers in New York City schools. Meg is an experienced high school computer science teacher and curriculum developer. She served as a writer for the CSTA K-12 CS Standards and the CSTA/ISTE CS Educator Standards and as a special advisor to the K12 CS Framework. She conducts research related to teaching CS to students with disabilities and CS teacher preparation. Recently, the Python Software Foundation awarded her a grant to develop a user-friendly site that can serve as a hub for Python education. Meg is the author of the book Code This Game!

Notes from this episode:

Book, "Because Internet:

Computer History Museum:

Living Computer Museum in Seattle:

Grace Hopper:

Chibi Clip by Chibitronics:


Ji Qui:

Keith Zoo, artist:



Career Prep (In Middle School?)

Ep. 67

A discussion among a unique group of K12 leaders in CA building a brand-new middle school with future pathways at the center of their design.

Kristin McKenna

Director of College and Career Readiness

Madera Unified School District

Kristin McKenna is the Director of College and Career Readiness for Madera Unified and has been with Madera Unified since 2009 when she was hired as an Agriculture Teacher at Madera South High School. 

In 2015 Kristin became the Coordinator of College and Career Readiness and moved to the Director role in July 2018.  In these roles Kristin supports the teachers in Madera Unified’s 25 career pathways, and helps build industry partnerships to align with the courses.  She manages all of the CTE specific funding and is responsible for writing new grants as they become available. 

Kristin received her Bachelors of Science Degree and Teaching Credential at Fresno State University, her Masters in Agriculture Education from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and her Administration Credential through Madera County Office of Education.

Alyson Rocco


Madera Technical Exploration Center (Madera TEC)

Madera Unified School District

Alyson Rocco is Principal at the Madera Technical Exploration Center - “Madera TEC.” She was a Madera High School graduate and is returning to the district after fifteen years in Clovis Unified, ten as a classroom teacher and five in administration. 

Alyson taught kindergarten, first, second and fifth grade at James S. Fugman Elementary School then moved to the Guidance Instructional Specialist (aka Vice Principal) there. She was then promoted to a Learning Director at Clovis North Educational Center which serves 7th-12th grade students. Alyson oversaw English, Academic Block, Drama, Choir, Forensics and CTE Education Pathway.

Alyson received her Bachelors of Arts and Teaching Credential at San Diego State University, her Masters in Education from Fresno State University, and her Administrative Credential through Fresno County Office of Education. 

Theron Cosgrave

Senior Consultant

Swanson & Cosgrave Consulting (

Theron Cosgrave (aka “Cos”) is a national consultant who works with educators on a wide range of issues including project-based learning, curriculum development, school design, leadership development, and strategic planning. His firm, Swanson & Cosgrave Consulting, works with districts across the country along with intermediaries like ConnectED, JFF, NAF, and EPIC. Prior to consulting, Theron spent a decade as a high school social studies teacher and Assistant Principal. Theron holds a B.A. in Political Science and M.A. in Education from Stanford University, and a M.A. in Education Administration from San Francisco State University.

Links from this episode:

Madera Unified Schools:

Madera California:,_California


"A Pedagogy of Freedom"

Ep. 66

Dr. Christopher Emdin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology at Teachers College, Columbia University; where he also serves as Director of the Science Education program and Associate Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education. He is the creator of the #HipHopEd social media movement, and author of the award winning book, Urban Science Education for the Hip-hop Generation and the New York Times bestseller For White Folks Who Teach In the Hood and the Rest of Ya’ll too.

For a longer bio, check show notes, and if you haven't heard it, pop back to Episode 58 to listen to my first conversation with Chris and Edmund Adjapong. 

Links from this episode:

Nipsey Hustle:

Dr. Chris Emdin:

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood (And the rest of ya'll too):

Computer Science for All, NYC Department of Education: