General Sessions

Opening General Session: Designing Learning in the 4th Industrial Revolution
Monday, March 12, 2018
4:15 pm – 6:00 pm



Keynote: Tom Vander Ark is author of Getting Smart: How Digital Learning is Changing the World, Smart Cities That Work for Everyone: 7 Keys to Education & Employment and Smart Parents: Parenting for Powerful Learning. He is CEO of Getting Smart, a learning design firm and a partner in Learn Capital, an education venture capital firm. Previously he served as the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Tom served as a public school superintendent in Washington State and has extensive private sector experience including serving as a senior executive for a national public retail chain. A prolific writer and speaker, Tom has published thousands of articles, has written and contributed to twelve published books and co-authored more than 40 white papers. He writes regularly on his Education Week blog, Vander Ark on Innovation, and on Tom is board chair of Charter Board Partners, and is a director of 4.0 Schools, Bloomboard, Digital Learning Institute, eduInnovation, and Imagination Foundation. Tom is an advisor to New Classrooms. Tom received the Distinguished Achievement Medal and graduated from the Colorado School of Mines. He received his M.B.A. in finance from the University of Denver. He continues his education online. Tom advocates for innovations that customize and motivate learning and extend access.


Responder: Jonathan Rochelle (aka JR) is Director of Product Management at Google and a co-founder of Google Docs and Google Drive, including other apps in that suite such as Google Sheets, Slides, Forms, Apps Script and Google Fonts. Jonathan is now primarily responsible for Jamboard – a collaborative whiteboard app and large screen hardware device, and G Suite for Education, which reaches more than 60 million educators and students globally, and includes apps like Google Classroom and Google Expeditions. Jonathan and his teams are primarily based in Google’s NYC office. Prior to joining Google in 2005, Jonathan co-founded and sold two technology start-ups – ITK Solutions, a technology consulting firm, and 2Web Technologies, a software product company which was acquired by Google in 2005 as the technology behind Google spreadsheets – the first publicly launched component of Google Docs. Before founding the start-ups, Jonathan spent 15 years as a software engineer and applications development manager, primarily at JP Morgan & Co., across a broad set of financial service businesses. JR is a strong advocate of innovation culture, entrepreneurship and education technology, and can often be distracted with any “maker” activity such as 3D Printing (proof in his blog Jonathan earned his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the State University of New York at Albany. twitter handle:  @jrochelle


Responder: Katherine Prince, one of the United States’ foremost educational futurists, leads KnowledgeWorks’ exploration of the future of learning.  As Senior Director, Strategic Foresight, she speaks and writes about the trends shaping education over the next decade and helps education stakeholders strategize about how to become active agents of change in pursuing their ideal visions for the future learning ecosystem. Since 2007,  Katherine has worked with education stakeholders around the country to explore how they might transform education so as to create better possibilities for all young people.  She facilitates conversations that challenge assumptions about how education functions today and encourage education stakeholders to create and pursue transformative visions for learning.  Her papers and blog posts draw out scenarios for the future, explore their implications, and advocate for large-scale systems change. In other roles with KnowledgeWorks, Katherine also led organizational development initiatives, contributed to national collaborations informed by the fields of systems thinking and organizational change, and managed programs to foster teaching and professional learning innovations and encourage collaborative knowledge management among educators.

Before joining KnowledgeWorks in 2006, Katherine supported large-scale changes in working practice at Britain’s Open University by introducing an online portal and an online student feedback system for 7,500 tutors distributed across the United Kingdom.  Prior to that, she managed customer satisfaction improvement projects and established a technical communications group at Pacific Consulting Group in California.  In that capacity, she helped federal agencies and other clients increase service quality by incorporating a customer perspective into their organizational planning. Katherine holds a BA in English from Ohio Wesleyan University; an MA in English from the University of Iowa; and an MBA from The Open University with emphases on creativity, innovation, and change and on knowledge management.  She also earned a certificate in Foresight from the University of Houston.  Katherine served on the board of trustees of the Union Institute and University and is a member of the Association of Professional Futurists. For one view of Katherine’s vision for the future of learning, watch her 2014 TEDxColumbus talk.


Moderator:  Dr. Valerie Truesdale joined Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as chief technology officer in October 2012. She previously served as superintendent of schools in Beaufort and Oconee counties in South Carolina. “Technology is transforming the way we live, work and learn – and schools need to prepare digital learners in the way they learn best,” Dr. Truesdale said. “We want graduates of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to be literate as they prepare for college and careers in a digital age. Our responsibility is to provide technology systems that support learning at all levels.” Dr. Truesdale, a native of Columbia, S.C., spent nine years as a superintendent. She also served as a chief instructional officer in Lexington and Richland counties for nine years and led the policy division of the South Carolina State Department of Education, supervising policy, technology, licensure and student assessment. Dr. Truesdale has also served as a high school principal, assistant principal, personnel administrator and teacher. She was a faculty member and department chair at Mount Ida College in Newton and Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Dr. Truesdale has taught courses for Queens University and Clemson University. She worked in retail management with J.C. Penney Co. before entering education. Dr. Truesdale holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Clemson University, an M.B.A. from Georgia State University in Atlanta and a doctorate in educational administration
from the University of South Carolina. Her contributions to education have been recognized nationally and regionally. She is a past president of the international Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). She was the first national recipient of the Women in School Leadership Award, conferred by the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) in 2011. She was named state superintendent of the year in 2009 by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators and received a lifetime achievement award from that organization in 2012. Dr. Truesdale and her husband have three grown children and four grandchildren.


General Session: State of CoSN, Awards & FailFest
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm


  • Learn about exciting new resources and tools.
  • Join in honoring the 2018 award winners.
  • Fail Fast at FailFest.


Closing General Session: Awesome Adaptation in Exponential Change
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
3:10 pm – 4:30 pm

Keynote: Neil Pasricha, Happiness Expert and Bestselling Author of The Book of Awesome

A Harvard MBA, New York Times bestselling author, award-winning blogger, and one of the most popular TED speakers in the world, Neil Pasricha is “a pied piper of happiness”* who dazzles audiences with ideas and frameworks that skyrocket happiness into the stratosphere. With infectious enthusiasm, heartfelt authenticity, and a “what works” authority, Pasricha draws on the latest research in happiness to increase individual performance and create a more positive and productive workplace.

Pasricha spent a decade with Walmart, the world’s largest company, directly working for two CEOs and as the organization’s director of leadership development. He now travels all over the globe sharing messages on happiness to Fortune 500 companies, schools, and non-profits. In the past few years, he has spoken to over 200,000 people at hundreds of events, making him one of the world’s most sought-after speakers. He has spoken to Royal Families in the Middle East, Ivy League Deans, and to CEOs at organizations such as Audi, Abbot, and GE.

His first book, The Book of Awesome, is a runaway #1 international bestseller with millions of copies sold. His new book, The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything (also an international bestseller), provides step-by-step guidelines to illustrate how to apply a unique set of principles to improving and managing everything—your time, your career, your bottom line, your relationships and ultimately, of course, your happiness.

In his twenties, Pasricha partnered with Harvard University to design one of the first global leadership development programs inside a Fortune 10 company. And, as a management consultant, he advised Fortune 50 companies on top level leadership strategies. He earned his Master’s degree from the Harvard Business School, focusing on Leadership and Organizational Behaviour.

Pasricha’s writing and work has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, CNN, BBC, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Sunday Times, China Daily, The Jakarta Post, The Sydney Herald and Wired.

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