Thursday, October 4th
I had the opportunity today to give a keynote speech at a technology and education summit for the Caribbean and Latin America hosted by Intel, Microsoft, and the Guatemala Ministry of Education. The venue was Antigua, Guatemala. There were 50 government attendees from 12 countries who came together to share ideas and best practices on how to best apply technology to their country's vision for improving education.
The three speeches all discussed similar themes. Bob presented an education model that a country can adopt, and he emphasized the importance of knowledge creation in that model. John discussed the importance of infrastructure and did a nice job describing the different types of pilot projects Microsoft, Intel and others were engaged in involving either the Intel Teach program or deployments of Intel Classmate or ASUS low cost PCs around the world. There are a lot of pilots underway, and the early returns are exciting. He also described the importance of "media literacy"; this is the first time I had heard this concept within the context of UPG and will start using it moving forward because I think it is an important idea.
In my speech I discussed the importance of partnerships and (unintentionally) helped reinforce some of Bob and John's points by doing a demonstration of Grava, the code name for an education content authoring tool under development at Microsoft. If we can combine rich, media-enabled student and educator authoring tools with the type of online collaboration networks we are building with the ITN, we have the opportunity (through partners, of course) to do some very cool things to transform education. This is a theme I will be exploring more in this blog in the future.
Later on in the conference, Erika Twani from the UPG Latin America team did a complete soup-to-nuts demo of an education collaboration scenario over the Internet that included Learning Essentials, Microsoft Student, Spaces, Skydrive, Popfly and about a dozen other products and services. We are going to try to make an online version of the demo available, so stay tuned.