We may have just the thing for you. Five technology pioneers will share how they pushed the limits of their world — and give you the blueprint to follow in their footsteps — during the ISTE EdTekTalks at ISTE 2015 in Philadelphia, June 29 at 4 p.m.
Take, for instance, Hadi Partovi’s talk. Partovi is the entrepreneur and investor who co-founded the education nonprofit Code.org with his twin brother. His angel investment and start-up advisor list reads like the Who’s Who of the internet: Facebook, Dropbox, airbnb, Zappos, OPOWER and IndieGogo, to name a few. Microsoft acquired his initial Tellme Networks venture for a reported $800 million. Check out the MSN portal’s only profitable year, and you’ll see Partovi’s name as its leader.
So this Harvard University grad knows firsthand that coding is one of the fastest-spreading movements in education, and he’s not afraid to tackle the elephants in the room: Does every kid need to learn this stuff? And how early should they start?
“I don’t think every kid needs to learn a detailed coding language,” he said, “but all kids need to at least understand the foundational basics. We teach kids how electricity works, what water is made of and how plants make sugar, not because they all want to become electricians or chemists, but because these things are all part of how our world works.
“Software is the new electricity.”
It’s natural that Partovi would turn to education to spread his message. His father was the founding first professor at Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, and his sons, Hadi and Ali, grew up with computer science as a given in their childhood. But that doesn’t fully explain why this titan of industry is investing his time and resources in making computer science the next step up from Legos, as Forbes called it.
“A teacher recently wrote saying that she started introducing Code.org into her curriculum,” Partovi said. “One child was dyslexic and struggling in other subjects but did fantastically with coding and was able to help other kids. It was a light-bulb moment, a reminder to this teacher why she got into this profession in the first place. The curriculum taught him not just to code, but that he could learn and succeed.”
Currently, Code.org’s An Hour of Code program hopes to spread computer education to 100 million students around the world. It’s a vision that Silicon Valley influencers like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and executives at Microsoft, Google and Salesforce have jumped behind, raising $2.3 million to date in service of that goal.
And that’s just one of the EdTekTalks spotlights. Four more leaders will also take the stage:
Adam Braun, founder of Pencils of Promise and a brainiac who began working at hedge funds when he was 16 years old, explains how he meshed for-profit business acumen with nonprofit idealism. Pencils of Promise was named the “2013 Education Organization of the Year” through a showcase held at the United Nations.
Annie Griffiths’ images from nearly 150 countries have graced National Geographic’s pages, making her one of its first female photographers. She will take the audience on her journey to becoming executive director of Ripple Effect Images, a group of photographers who document programs that empower women in the developing world.
Sergie Lupashin recently invented the Fotokite, a lightweight, tethered quadricopter that puts the power of unmanned aerial vehicles in the hands of journalists, architects, wildlife biologists and emergency responders. He’ll share how the image of the 2011 Russian federal elections captured his imagination to change the world for everyone.
Our youth are also well represented with Amy O’Toole, a 15-year-old student from the United Kingdom who will talk about how she helped run a hybrid art studio and science lab and, at age 10, became one of the youngest people ever to publish a peer-reviewed science paper. Previously, she had no interest in science as a subject.
What treasures will you carry away in your imagination?