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The proposed Google corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California, is pictured in this artist's rendering courtesy of NBBJ. (NBBJ Handout/REUTERS)
The proposed Google corporate headquarters in Mountain View, California, is pictured in this artist's rendering courtesy of NBBJ. (NBBJ Handout/REUTERS)

Debate This: Innovation in Education

Silicon Valley Rx for education: move it online Add to ...

I asked Silicon Valley leaders what they saw as the future of education and where there is space for creativity and entrepreneurship.

Aaron Levie, Founder and CEO of Box Inc., which provides cloud storage:

The trends that are going to be most disruptive and create the most amount of change are those that fundamentally make education more accessible and more available to more people, in smaller and more modular parts.

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The fact that you can now pull out an iPad and learn about a specific subject that is not available to you in any other way is an incredible transformation in education. I think when you apply that to all levels of education – whether that’s in kindergarten, all the way up to university, graduate school, or adult/continued education – that’s when you’ll see tremendous transformations in how people learn and what people learn.

Maggie Johnson, director of education for Google:

We have to figure out how to empower students and give them responsibility for their own learning. [Students are] technically very astute – they’re working with devices and growing up with them. They’re wired to learn differently. We have to allow them to do more and to teach themselves and not have an inflexible school environment that does not support that kind of learning

Sarah Greenberg, Managing Director, Stanford Design School:

I have a strong belief that if we wait until after our formal education is over to start learning how to work across disciplines, we’re doing our students a disservice. And we’re not equipping them with a set of tools that are going to be really critical in the future.

The big hairy problems that our societies need to be able to solve do not fit neatly within any one discipline, and so we have to find ways to help students expect that they both need to have some sort of disciplinary grounding and the ability to collaborate with others.

And I think the other important thing ... is you won’t know the answer until you start – if you do, it’s not likely to be an innovation. The work that I think we need to equip our students to be able to do is to be able to suspend judgment until they really understand the user context.

Mike Cassidy, director of product management, Google X

We have to make it exciting and fun for people to learn. People are so much more focused when they enjoy it. I think you want to let people learn at their own pace and that’s why online learning [can work]. ...

There are so many amazing teachers and professors on a variety of topics. Why should we not find a way to capture the most amazing expert on the battle of Gettysburg, who knows all the facts, but also a way to tell the story? Why shouldn’t everyone in the world have a chance to see the best lecturer on Gettysburg or Newton’s second law?

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