The Learning is Open podcasts are conversations with educators of all types about how to broaden the reach of learning opportunities beyond the classroom. Each week we bring you practices and strategies that you can use right away to help you connect your students to knowledge, expertise and resources wherever they are. You can subscribe to the Learning is Open Podcast on iTunes.


Ron Ottinger talks about how teachers can integrate excellent STEM programming into the school day. Ron was formerly the Executive Director of the Noyce Foundation, a leading underwriter of out of school time STEM programs in the US. Ron is now Director of STEM Next at the University of San Diego where he spearheads efforts to build and popularize ecosystems of STEM Learning  At Noyce Ron funded STEM Everywhere  a series of videos published on Edutopia that show young people engaging in science, technology, engineering, and math in everyday life.


Diana Laufenberg is a twenty-year veteran secondary social studies teacher who most recently taught at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy. Along with Chris Lehmann, Diana founded Inquiry Schools  a new non-profit working to create and support learning environments that are inquiry driven, project based, and utilize modern technologies. Her TED Talk “How to Learn? From Mistakes” has garnered nearly 2 million views and her classroom was featured in the PBS documentary “Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century.”


Simon Hauger is co-founder and principal at The Workshop School  a Philadelphia public school dedicated to unleashing the creative and intellectual potential of young people to solve the world’s problems. We talk about their project based model and the challenges of starting a school from scratch with an ambitious education agenda. In Simon’s TED talk he describes building hybrid cars with high school students and his pilot school called the Sustainability Workshop was featured as part of the PBS documentary “Is School Enough?”

RON BERGER (listen)

Ron Berger talks about how school culture drives both learning and teaching. Ron is responsible for leading EL Education’s vision of teaching and learning, and brings 40 years experience as a teacher and professional development designer. He is author of two books, An Ethic of Excellence and A Culture of Quality.


Elizabeth Babcock is the Chief Public Engagement Officer and Roberts-Wilson Dean of Education at the California Academy of Sciences where she is responsible for creating and implementing public engagement, outreach, and education programs  We talk about how the academy integrates its programs into  schools and about the opportunities that citizen science offers to students to do authentic science research. In addition to a wide variety of resources for educators, the Academy also offers a citizen science toolkit  to help teachers, students, and the public get started. The internship program was featured in the series STEM Everywhere on Edutopia.


Randy Fielding is Founding Chairman of Fielding Nair International, an award-winning, global leader in education planning and architectural design and Editorial Director of DesignShare, a central address for the very best in educational facilities and their impact on the learning process. We talk about  the ways that teachers and students can participate in designing classroom and school spaces that accommodate both collaboration and independent work while always remaining student-centered. You can watch a short film about Randy here.

JAY SILVER (listen)

Jay Silver is Founder and CEO of JoyLabz, the makers of Makey Makey, a way to connect any object to a computer and now a staple at maker spaces everywhere. He was the first ever Maker Research Scientist at Intel and is on the board of MakerEd. Jay’s MIT PhD topic was World as Construction Kit. Jay is a great explainer of the maker sensibility and we talk a lot about how teachers can take that sensibility into the classroom to spark creativity. You can watch a short film about Jay here.


Stephanie Chang is Director of Programs at Maker Ed where she is responsible for overseeing Maker Ed’s program and project offerings, including Maker Corps, Maker VISTA, Young Makers, the Open Portfolio Project, and the online Resource Library. I talk with Stephanie about Maker Ed’s programs to provide educators and institutions with the training, resources, and community support they need to create engaging and inclusive learning experiences through maker education.


Rick Kreinbring is a 26 year veteran and teaches AP language and composition and AP literature and composition at Avondale High School in Auburn Hills Michigan. Rick worked with the Henry Ford Institute to develop his practice of using design thinking in the classroom. We talk about how he emphasizes to his students the critical importance of the role of empathy and audience in producing effective writing. We also talk about this work with the National Writing Project. To learn more about the NWP, you can watch this short film about Elyse Eidman-Aadhal.


Alex is founder of Public Workshop and Tiny WPA, Philadelphia-based organizations that create uniquely engaging opportunities for youth and their communities to shape the design of their cities. We talk about how designing in public energizes communities, and gives young people a chance to participate as citizens and leaders. Learn more about Public Workshop and Tiny WPA at www.facebook.com/publicworkshop and www.facebook.com/tinywpa.

BOB REGAN (listen)

Bob Regan is Director of Education at the Big History Project, a free online educational resource that was inspired by the work of historian David Christian and is funded by Bill Gates. Big History’s approach emphasizes thinking across scale, integrating multiple disciplines, and preparing students to grapple with today’s biggest problems by challenging evidence and carefully examining the ideas that underpin historical moments.

BOB LENZ (listen)

Bob Lenz is Executive Director of the Buck Institute for Education  the premier professional development organization for project based learning. He co-founded Envision Education and is a nationally recognized leader in high school redesign. Bob talks about what it looks like to teach in a project based classroom and about the opportunities it affords students to do rigorous, relevant, and authentic work.

GARY STAGER (listen)

Gary Stager is a leading expert and advocate for computer programming, robotics, and learning by doing. He is co-author of Invent to Learn – Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. We cover a lot of territory, including how he works with teachers to design classrooms that are coercion free, where there are interesting things to do, and where kids can become lost in projects that matter to them.

DAVID BERG (listen)

David Berg is currently the Director of Technology for Big Picture Learning, a network of schools that puts students at the center of their learning. Before that, David was an advisor and Vice Principal at the Met Sacramento High School. One key feature of Big Picture’s approach is Learning Through Internships and I talk with David about how exposure to mentors in an authentic workplace connects students’ interests to the real world.


Margaret Noble is an artist and teacher at San Diego’s High Tech High, a network of schools that focus on personalization, an adult world connection, and a common intellectual mission. I talk with Margaret about how she uses art, coding, and digital media projects as a way to challenge students artistically AND intellectually.


Susan Rodgerson is Founder and Executive Director of Artists for Humanity, a Boston-based non-profit organization that provides youth with keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in the arts. We talk about the value of young artists working collaboratively with mentors to design solutions to meet client’s needs, however big or small.