I have a crush on Bill Gates. Here he is – a relentless innovator who changed the world of technology, a passionate philanthropist already responsible for saving over five million people from malaria, and the wealthiest man in America – at the NAIS conference in Seattle presenting on teaching and learning. Of all the things he could do with his time and money…luxury boats and dream vacations come to mind…he chooses to be in a room with over 4000 educators talking about what he cares about the most: “kids learning the stuff that counts”.
He joked that he is the world’s greatest supporter of independent schools and showed a photo of himself in grade 12 with the caption: “the last time I graduated.” He and Melinda both attended independent schools, but once he graduated from an NAIS high school, he said he didn’t need another diploma. And so he attended but never graduated from Harvard.
So without visible security and with a very down-to-earth approach, he spoke about the ideal learning environment: Yoda and Luke Skywalker engaging in one-on-one tutoring. He spoke about the need for metrics – how to measure, give feedback, and help teachers get better – but he also said that measuring can plague education. He defined education as creating a respectful culture where kids are engaged. (Okay, admittedly, nothing earth-shattering on that last point, but – just like that! – one of the most famous people in the world doesn’t skip a beat in stating a philosophy of education.) The fact is, he’s irresistible.
He mainly focused on one big question: How much can technology help us teach and learn? I want to share the resources he featured in four areas:
- Reimagining textbooks: CK-12, inkling, gooru
- Scaling our best teachers: Udemy, iTunesU, teachers pay teachers
- Connecting through social networks: epals, edmodo
- Personalizing: manga high, khan academy
Bill Gates thinks these links are worth checking out, and, therefore, so do I. I can’t remember who said it, but I have repeated the wise advice before: when in doubt, do as smart rich people do.
So please try something on his list, and let me know if you, too, develop a greater respect for (or even a little crush on) Bill Gates.