January 31, 2007 12:27 PM PST

Bill Gates' syllabus for tech and education

EDINBURGH, Scotland--Technology will greatly impact the way people choose educational institutions, according to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

Speaking at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum here Wednesday, Gates laid out his vision for just how technology is going to transform learning.

"We need to be humble in making predictions of how technology will affect education," Gates said, because people made big predictions about how TVs, video tapes and software would influence education that haven't come true.

Bill Gates Bill Gates

Still, Gates said he believes that the reasons people select great universities or schools--access to professors' lectures, the ability to discuss issues with other students and the need to attend classes to gain a degree--will all be changed by technology.

Lectures will be distributed for free over the Internet, students will hold discussions at a distance in chat rooms, and testing and accreditation will happen online for people anywhere in the world, Gates predicted.

"Technology allows for more specialization and improvement" in education, he said.

The role of the teacher is still fundamental to learning, Gates stressed, but more effort must be put into training teachers in IT, and more tools must be created for them--for instance, software that could help them create a curriculum from online sources.

As part of its educational efforts, Microsoft announced that it is expanding its Innovative Schools program (which helps local partners modernize schools) into the United Kingdom, as well as into 11 other countries, including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Finland, Germany, Ireland and Sweden.

In the United Kingdom, Microsoft has been working with local authorities in Kent, Knowsley, Lewisham, Sandwell and Sheffield to integrate technology into educational institutions.

Damian Allen, executive director of children's services at Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, said Microsoft created "a clear road map to improve operations, learning, and communication between the classroom and home through the use of technology."

Also at the Government Leaders Forum, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, spoke about the role technology can play in improving education so the country can remain competitive in the face of globalization.

"Liberating technology makes it possible to say every person can and should enjoy the advantage of education," Brown said.

A global economy in which people are more connected than ever before is becoming more of a reality each day, he said, and to prepare, government must promote innovation.

"The answer is not protectionism," he said. "The answer is not turning back the clock...but to invest more in science, technology and creative industries."

Brown also stressed the need to include the whole population in this shift and not to widen the digital divide.

"How can we make technological innovation work for not just some of the people but all of the people?" he asked.

Sylvia Carr of Silicon.com reported from Edinburgh, Scotland.

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the Econo-terrorist speaks,and I should listen...why?
<snip>A global economy in which people are more connected than ever before is becoming more of a reality each day, he said, and to prepare, government must promote innovation.</snip>

This from the world's leading econo-terrorist. How many companies and how much market value has MS destroyed? How many programmers / companies has he driven out of business through illegal monopolist practices? How many man hours has the built-by-monopoly-trash that Redmond spews cost this nation? The world? What is market value he's trashed? A trillion? Two trillion? Give me a break. Let's not forget MS 100-a-day new software patents they are filing to use to further consolidate their monopolist position. In the words of Steve Balmer- either get out of our way or get your lawyers and let's go to court. --That's MS's new "value add"; that's MS's "innovation".
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://swpat.ffii.org/gasnu/microsoft/index.en.html" target="_newWindow">http://swpat.ffii.org/gasnu/microsoft/index.en.html</a>

I can see why people listen to MS at product announcements, but why does CNET give this less-than-average and not-that-bright guy the time of day when it comes to economic / political or social policy? Do you really think that he's a visionary? How's your paperless office working out for you? Is that here yet? What a joke.
Posted by asdf (241 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I guess he sees more of the world in a year
than most of the others see in a lifetime.
Posted by pjianwei (206 comments )
Link Flag
EU, others are on-board...
At least historically, according to the FFII.org reference; there's been more collaboration with MS than efforts against it (politically or commercially.)

Microsoft is a "big player" in the world; but even they don't own the game.
Posted by techie2479 (84 comments )
Link Flag
What you don't know CAN hurt you
For all the talk about how we are moving from a production economy to a service economy, I feel that, here in the United States, we have shown ourselves to be incredibly inept (if not customer-hostile) in the service sector (which probably goes hand-in-glove with our inability to keep up with the rest of the world in the production sector). I attribute our "service incompetence" to our lack of how to achieve quality in the world's second-oldest profession, which happens to be a service profession; and that, of course, is education. (Isn't it interesting that the world's OLDEST profession is ALSO a service profession?)

As I see it, there are a variety of interrelated reasons why we have made such a mess of our educational system. The most important is that we try to shoehorn it into production-economy thinking, because "that is what we know how to do" (regardless of whether we are kidding ourselves about that justification). What this means is that we believe that the best way to improve the quality of education is to make it more EFFICIENT, a warped way of thinking that has been around at least as long as Taylor started to impose his "scientific" approach to making manufacturing processes more efficient:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-Mff23hgidqmHGqbcv.lfskakEtS6qLVHUEMFUG4-?cq=1&#38;p=102" target="_newWindow">http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-Mff23hgidqmHGqbcv.lfskakEtS6qLVHUEMFUG4-?cq=1&#38;p=102</a>

From this position it is a short hop to the premise that the key to efficiency lies in better software, whether that software provides content (as in course material) or conversations (with teachers, students, and anyone else covered by the Cluetrain Manifesto). What is missing from this picture, however, is the assertion that SOCIALIZATION plays a fundamental role in the experience of education, a role with facets too subtle to be "managed" by the software "solutions" of social networking and virtual worlds. What distinguishes socialization is a committed approach to ENGAGEMENT (which, to be fair, IS in Thesis 45 of the Cluetrain Manifesto); and, as we develop an appreciation for just how incapable we have become at social engagement, we see why our failures in education translate into failures throughout the service sector:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-Mff23hgidqmHGqbcv.lfskakEtS6qLVHUEMFUG4-?cq=1&#38;p=82" target="_newWindow">http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-Mff23hgidqmHGqbcv.lfskakEtS6qLVHUEMFUG4-?cq=1&#38;p=82</a>

Now we should give Gates credit for a public face that is beginning to appreciate the value of engagement. However, while that appreciation may flow into his charity work, I doubt that anyone would claim that it is flowing into any Microsoft product! So, would YOU trust Bill Gates to "fix" our educational fiasco with a "Microsoft solution!" I most certainly would not!
Posted by ghostofitpast (199 comments )
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I don't think he's saying he has all the answers
But at least he's willing to give it a shot. What are YOU doing to make education better?
Posted by Koo Breez (17 comments )
Link Flag
This is my appeal to Bill GATES
If Bill wants to help the world :

1. Set up an ONLINE ENGLISH LEARNING website in 10 levels and at various sectors. it is only $ 10,000,000 for him. But more people will use internet.

2. Set up ONLINE World K12 courses for the whole world on nondebatable subjects such as math, science, That may cost for 12 math course and 12 science course total is $ 24,000,000 again it is nothing for Bill GATES.

UK is not richer than Bill GATES, but UK offers to the whole world free OPEN University ONLINE. Thanks million to them.

If Bill claims he is willing to help the education of people in the world he should do these two very simple things for the world.
Best regards.
Muvaffak GOZAYDIN of Turkey mgozaydin@hotmail.com
Posted by mgozaydin (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Online Learning
I fully agree. He also needs to make sure he utilizes the best minds to teach classes from all over the world. Not just hand-pick from the US. That will assure diversity in learning and teaching methods. Best regards. Mary Grimes of USA.
Posted by HealthyChick (2 comments )
Link Flag
Online Learning
I fully agree. He also needs to make sure he utilizes the best minds to teach classes from all over the world. Not just hand-pick from the US. That will assure diversity in learning and teaching methods. Best regards. Mary Grimes of USA.
Posted by HealthyChick (2 comments )
Link Flag
Teaching Teachers
I am glad that Bill Gates has included the importance of the teacher's role in his vision of global technology as it relates to education. "More effort must be put into training teachers in IT"... I am looking forward to seeing what tools (software programs, training initiatives, etc.) Mr. Gates will advance towards this end.
Posted by cherald213 (1 comment )
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