May 25 2016

Education and Innovation at the Gigabit City Summit

The Hive

“We all win if we’re all in.” ~ Richard Culatta, CIO for the State of Rhode Island

We value education as core to human and societal advancement. We see it as vital to economic development. It’s the key to preparing today’s youth for tomorrow’s jobs. Yet, it rarely makes the top 10 list of priorities for those in government responsible for innovation. And innovation agendas are taking center stage in many cities across the nation – and the world.

During the Gigabit City Summit hosted by KC Digital Drive last week, we teamed up with Think Big to host the Education Track, which focused on exploring issues at the intersection of community innovation, emerging technologies, and education.

Richard Culatta, Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) for the State of Rhode Island and former Director of Education Technology at the White House, joined us to get the discussion going. Richard’s background in education – he started off as a Spanish teacher – makes it easy to understand why his views on education set him apart from most CIOs. Although education didn’t make the cut of top 10 priorities areas for CIO’s in a 2015 study, Richard sees education as a primary focus of his work. Without an educational infrastructure that is aligned to the increasingly technical needs of the workforce, he believes we’re doing ourselves – and our children – a disservice.

To explore the issues surrounding the role of education in building smart, digital communities, we convened an expert panel to continue the discussion. The panel, made up of leaders in education innovation, city policy, economic development, and ecosystem development, all agreed –  we can’t expect kids to be ready for the future’s workforce without positioning education front and center.

Leigh Anne Taylor Knight (DeBruce Foundation and ThinkShift) introduces the panel – Kiley Larson, Research Scientist, NYU & Research Strategist, LRNG; Sheri Gonzales Warren, Community & Economic Development Project Manager, Mid America Regional Council; Katie Boody, CEO, The Lean Lab; and Michael Baskin, Chief Policy Officer, City of Chattanooga

The panel explored how emerging technologies are creating more opportunity for learning, discussed issues around talent pipelines, skill needs, and data. They talked about the value of empowering teachers, students and parents to be agents of change in the community. A common theme throughout the discussion was the importance of collaboration in tackling many of the challenges ahead as the fabric of our cities change.

After discussing some of the challenges and opportunities our communities and economies face with technological innovation, we heard from some amazing educators and entrepreneurs using technology to transform education. Their Ignite Talks highlighted new approaches and technologies paving the way for tomorrow’s education and included:

  • New school models (XQ);
  • Inclusive programs for bridging the digital divide (Tech Goes Home CHA);
  • New IoT curriculum (SenseEd);
  • Gamified curricula (edcoda, Mission to Mars); and
  • Immersive learning technologies (LumenTouch/SightDeck, Immersive Education).

Gigabit City Summit Education Track participants suggested ideas for virtual reality field trips

As a mission driven organization focused on promoting and protecting the internet as a public good, Mozilla is interested in bringing more voices into discussions about the future of the web. Part of that is about advancing web literacy, but it’s also about exploring new frontiers of technology. That’s what drives the work we do in gigabit cities through the Gigabit Community Fund to pilot emerging technologies in learning environments.

Forums like the Gigabit City Summit are amazing platforms for creating collisions between often siloed discussions about innovation, technology, and education. We’re thankful for the opportunity to partner with KC Digital Drive to create a space for this discussion and grateful to all who participated.

It’s a shared vision and shared work. As Richard Culatta said in his remarks, “We all win if we’re all in.”

Get Involved in the Conversation: Join the gigabit focused Mozilla Community Call on May 25th at 4pm EDT – mzl.la/comcall.

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