I am flying back from this year’s ASU/GSV Summit which has become the consummate gathering of the ed tech, investor and digital innovator community. With over 2400 attendees, the event was big and full of promise. From teachers sharing stories of how technology has transformed their classrooms to the students themselves who are blazing a new path to hungry entrepreneurs looking to meet with the investor community, the event attempts to showcase innovation, encourage disruptive thought, and spark this community of education-focused individuals to make a difference.
Reflecting back on the sessions and my interactions over the course of the last few days, it strikes me that this event has grown in prominence and size over the last few years because it focuses on what is possible. The event is filled with hope and promise. New models of learning are celebrated, new organizations are highlighted and individuals are showcased – all working toward a brighter future. Although we all deal daily with an increasingly complex regulatory environment, shifting consumer and student preferences and the overall challenges of doing work that needs to be done but is hard, over the course of 3 days, the team of planners at ASU and GSV endeavor to remind all of us of the transformational role of education and the power of the individual to make a difference in the lives of one or thousands of individuals.
I heard from Arne Duncan who was adamant that while we need more investment in education we also need to do more with what we have. He talked about putting teachers into the conversation and using their passion, experience and insights to design the next education system. He spoke of moving students from digital consumers to digital creators in a more active learning environment and he provided a good foundation for the education agenda. One the other hand, Howard Schultz talked about the role of corporate America in supporting education and the evolving role and responsibility of corporations to invest in their employees with educational benefits. We heard from Starbuck’s employees who are getting a chance to go to college through the Starbucks/ASU college program.
The core messages of the event and what I think we all need to remember are three-fold, the need is huge. Six million Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 who are not in the workforce or in school – the opportunity youth that need help and need a chance of a better future. The solution is not one-dimensional – there is no one-size-fits-all but instead we need to think about personalization, individualized treatment, and creative paths for our unique learners. And third – we need to use technology to do the work that needs to get done. That does not mean that technology replaces human interaction or individuals but technology is an enabler of scale and can drive impact. And lastly, outcomes. None of this matters unless we are driving better outcomes and we owe it to our youth, our students and to our nation to make a difference and drive better outcomes because it will make this country a stronger place and drive economic growth at home and abroad.
Read more about Education in the US: 10 Staggering Facts about Education in America