Education and Collaboration in the Age of Technology

Nov 29, 2013 by

… the biggest issue is that an increasing percentage of America’s workforce is not prepared for the world they’re living in.

By David Kirkpatrick –

In September, the Techonomy conference came to Detroit for the second year, featuring influential speakers in technology, business, government, economic development and education. The conference was created to explore the way technology impacts the world. Education was one of the key themes for this year’s event. Here, Techonomy founder and CEO David Kirkpatrick reflects on some of the key questions posed at the conference.

Q: In your opinion, what are the biggest issues facing the U.S. today when it comes to education, and what role does technology play in addressing these issues?

A: The biggest issue is that an increasing percentage of America’s workforce is not prepared for the world they’re living in. While we do see a growing component of the educational community recognizing that something’s wrong, I don’t think we are seeing innovation emerge rapidly enough in the educational ecosystem.

At Techonomy, we see startups that are focusing on new ways of using technology to educate people, and we see all this extraordinary energy being unleashed around the collaborative economy and the maker movement, with the presumption that everyone can educate one another. And I think that’s a big part of the world we’re moving into. But I don’t think the majority of our schools are really structured that way.

Schools today are still basically structured to educate people for an old industrial economy. And the old industrial economy is going away. Educators need to be much more aware of the tools that are emerging using technology, like online courses and collaborative systems that help students teach each other.

The students in high schools in America are generally better informed about what’s happening with technology than the teachers. That’s a tragedy in itself. I’m afraid that what we need is a sort of radical re-education of our educators.

Q: How can communities in the U.S. — including educators, governments and businesses — equip citizens with the tools they need to work in the technology-driven economy?

A: I think it requires thinking of communities as teams. It requires creating an environment at the civic level that allows businesses, government, educational institutions and nonprofits to work together — as they are starting to do in Detroit — to tackle some of these problems.

A lot of the answers to the questions we pose at Techonomy involve thinking more collaboratively at the local, regional, national and international levels. We now have the infrastructure — founded on the Internet — that allows everyone to connect with everyone else easily. So the fundamental question we’re all facing is, how do we use that infrastructure to solve problems?

Q: This was the second Techonomy event held in Detroit. What have you experienced when it comes to bringing governments, educators and businesses together to address the issues presented at the event?

A: We’ve had tremendous results when it comes to getting people interested in these discussions because they recognize that we’re focusing on issues they’re concerned about. It’s really interesting how energized business, government and tech leaders around the country have been when we try to get them specifically to Detroit for this discussion.

The most dramatic example is Jack Dorsey, who is the creator of Twitter and the founder and CEO of Square. The day I told Jack that we were going to hold Techonomy in Detroit, I had barely gotten the words out of my mouth when he said, “I’m in.” That kind of excitement about contributing to Detroit and seeing Detroit as the right place to have this dialogue is very widespread. Ironically, I think the bankruptcy and all the media attention that Detroit’s received have reinforced the interest among our community in coming to Detroit because people want to help.

Founder, host and CEO of Techonomy, David Kirkpatrick is a journalist, commentator about technology and author of the bestselling book, “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company That Is Connecting the World,” published in 2010 by Simon & Schuster.

via Education and Collaboration in the Age of Technology.

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