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

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:


From an Unlikely CA Zipcode, A Digital Nest Emerges

Ep. 65

Jacob Martinez is a social entrepreneur, tech educator, keynote speaker and cutting-edge community collaborator. Martinez believes technology has the potential to break down socioeconomic barriers and unlock economic growth for youth and their communities. As the founder and executive director of Digital NEST (Nurturing Entrepreneurial Skills with Technology), Martinez turned a vision into reality by creating a modern, collaborative workspace for local youth to receive high-tech training.

The opening of the first Digital NEST in 2014 garnered national attention as a model for bridging the digital divide experienced by youth living in low-income, rural communities. Today the NEST continues to expand, with more than 1200 members at two regional centers; its main location in Watsonville, CA and since April 2017, a Digital NEST pilot in Salinas, CA.

Martinez’s inspiration for Digital NEST is built on more than a dozen years of experience and research in teaching tech as a way to overcome economic disparities and achieve equity for Latinos and girls. His early work focused on promoting careers in STEM for youth through an award winning after-school program teaching middle-school girls to create computer games. The program serves hundreds of students in 15 Santa Cruz County schools.

Martinez has presented his work and research to the National Science Foundation, to technology companies Google, Mozilla, and Infosys; to the Computer Science Collaborative Project, the University of California, and the National Girls Collaborative Project. Martinez spoke in 2015 at the first White House Tech Meetup and was named by TechCrunch as one of 2014’s Top 10 Men in the Country Supporting Women in Technology.

Martinez has been widely recognized for his work as a community leader developing innovative approaches to solving social problems across diverse populations. Martinez founded the Santa Cruz County Ag-tech Meetup, co-founded the Watsonville Film festival, is a Community Advisor for Opportunity Fund and hosts a podcast focused on the intersection of agriculture and technology.

He is a frequent speaker at technology and educational conferences and symposia, and has been honored by business, community, and educational institutions for his innovation and leadership. He was named the 2015 Santa Cruz County Entrepreneur of the Year, has provided thought leadership on the impact of tech and underserved student populations, and also received a recommendation letter from former United States Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta.

Martinez graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and received his Master’s in Instructional Science and Technology from California State University, Monterey Bay.

Links from this episode:

Digital Nest:

Jacob Martinez:

Better Schools Won't Fix America, Nick Hanauer, Atlantic Monthly:


Onramps to Computer Science

Ep. 64

This conversation is with a group of founders designing novel learning experiences to engage learners. The conversation explores each approach, and what values they bring to what they design and build for learners. How does "engagement" relate to what skills, identities, and dispositions these experts hope that learners attain including but not limiting to computer science.

Armando Somoza is a new media artist, technologist, social entrepreneur, and educator. He is committed to the creative application of immersive learning experiences, cultural entrepreneurship, and digital technologies as an agent of provocation and change. He holds an MFA in Emergent Digital Practice and a BA in Ethnic Studies. He is a career educator, artist, and technologist currently serving as a graduate level Adjunct Professor at NYU Steinhardt and CEO & Co-Founder of Rapport Studios, a creative agency that exists to disrupt, awaken, and reorient people’s relationship to knowledge and culture. Our product, CodeSCTY, leverages original hip hop music and youth culture to teach computational thinking and coding - like Schoolhouse Rock for coding.

Chenits Pettigrew is an accomplished musician, educator, entrepreneur and creative director. Through innovative curriculum development, live performance, multimedia creation and master classes, his work aims to foster sustainable change. He has worked with arts and community organizations domestically and internationally in pursuit of this mission. He is the co-founder of Soul Science Lab, a music and multimedia production company and Chief Creative Officer of Rapport Studios, a creative education agency. At Rapport he is focused on building dynamic content for CodeScty, a product that uses original hip hop music to teach computer science concepts. Chenits holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from Pennsylvania State University and an interdisciplinary Master’s in Music Business & Tech and Art as Activism from New York University.

Leandra Tejedor and her cofounder Alexandra Diracles are proving that the best way to teach teens, especially girls, computer programming is go where they live: social media videos. It's a Javascript coding curriculum that can be used as a stand-alone course or a unit within a CS course. Vidcode has reached over 150,000 students (62% girls) in 113 countries, and recently partnered with Snapchat to help enable teens to code their own snapchat filters. Tejedor holds a degree in design and interactive media from Ramapo College.

We often forget how rare it is that any of us as learners truly stumbles upon a deep motivation, a love for a topic, or enthusiasm for new skills out of nowhere. And yet, so many of the approaches we take through institutional learning make the assumption that you - empty vessel awaiting relevant knowledge - are eager to dive in.  Today especially, we're obsessed as a country with "readiness." For the future, for jobs, for the challenges of tomorrow, but nobody every got ready for anything by having others shove it cram it down our throat. As many of you are aware, thoughtful, well-designed onramps can be the difference between pushing through an already cracked door, and feeling around aimlessly for a secret opening in a library wall like in a scene from Harry Potter. You get what I'm saying - meet everyone...

Links from this episode:

Kiki Dance Challenge



Mark Guzdial, University of Michigan:


A Research and Tech Unboxing

Ep. 63

Brian Sweeting is a Digital Publishing Manager and Content Strategist for New Learning Times. He manages a team of writers whose goal is to create and curate compelling digital content that deepens an understanding of forward-thinking learning, teaching, and research.

This episode, Brian and I consider a sort of "unboxing." He brings us four recent articles covered by New Learning Times. It's the first I've heard anything about them, and you get to come along as we unwrap the story - my understanding of the story - as we go. 

As always, my thanks to Brian and the talented team at New Learning Times. I hope you'll go check them out.

The New Learning Times (NLT) provides daily coverage of the transformation of learning opportunities in the information age for those shaping the future of education. NLT is produced at the EdLab at Teachers College, Columbia University.

The editorial frame for NLT is governed by our understanding of three major trends, which we have termed “The New 3R’s.” Far beyond mere reform, the education sector is undergoing a major Reformation, a profound reconfiguration of the customs, institutions, and relationships that together constitute the foundations for learning opportunities around the world. Spurred by rapid developments in communications and computation, the education sector is also experiencing a Renaissance of new ideas, processes, and possibilities to support learning across the lifespan. The rapid introduction and convergence of these emerging political, technical, and artistic forces is creating the conditions for a Revolution in what is becoming the new learning sector. The New Learning Times seeks to chronicle the major transformation in learning possibilities.

Links from the episode:

New Learning Times:

Kinful Lets Students Learn Social and Emotional Skills Through Play, by Melanie Hering:

Learn Chemistry in Virtual Reality With HoloLAB Champions, by Sara Hardman:

Ideally, I Want It Al, by Rebecca Sullivanl: