INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD DINNER
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
NOVEMBER 1, 2000
"EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY, AND GLOBAL UNDERSTANDING"
© Copyright 2000 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.
Good evening, everyone. And my thanks to IIE for honoring
me with the Distinguished Service Award this evening. The
price that you have to pay for bringing me up here is letting
me speak on a subject that means so much to all of us. But
I promise I'll be brief.
In a moment, I'd like to share some of my thoughts on education
in the context of the new global community that's emerging.
And I'd like to talk about some of the inventive things being
done at Hewlett-Packard and elsewhere to knit the minds of
our world closer together even as we encourage and are stimulated
by diversity, individual tradition, and inventiveness. But
before anything else, let me salute the IIE and other groups
who have done so much to make the dream of global educational
exchange a reality.
THE VALUE OF EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGE
In this century, tens of thousands of Americans - and equal
numbers of foreign students and academics - have crossed borders
to enrich their intellectual understanding of a subject with
up-close and personal experience. This process has enriched
us as a nation. And it has enriched other nations and peoples.
It enriched me. I had the good fortune of studying abroad
in London and Ghana. I also taught English in Italy. I value
those experiences deeply.
But more importantly, exchanges have enriched our world.
Academic exchangees have gone on to become presidents and
foreign ministers and finance ministers. Misunderstandings
between peoples and cultures that might have become wars have
been worked out. Ideas and inventions that might never have
flourished or even occurred have been stimulated by different
perspectives, landscapes, and historical experiences. That
is what IIE and others have done for all of us. Thank you,
again, for all you've done.
But if that sounds like I'm closing the door on an era,
I'm not. Instead, I'm opening one. I believe the richest era
of global educational exchange lies ahead. I believe the greatest
opportunities to enrich minds, improve lives, and build mutual
understanding are tomorrow, not yesterday. Let me explain.
THE EXCHANGE OF KNOWLEDGE
Look at the tools we have today:
Isn't this what international educators have always wanted and
- With the Internet revolution, we now have the potential
to connect the thinkers of every village and outpost on
- More importantly, we now have the potential to promote
mutual understanding and respect between every corner of
- And in so doing, we have the potential to stimulate peace
and prosperity in places that five years ago had given up
on the benefits of technology.
It has always been true that unlocking the individual mind
through education is the first step on the long path to solving
huge problems that plague us, like disease, ethnic and religious
violence, war, poverty, and political oppression. But today,
the digital revolution gives us the potential to tap and connect
to nearly every mind on earth - and so we can take a shot
at really addressing those problems.
It has also always been true that education should be a
lifelong process. The closed mind is a sure path to lost opportunity
and wasted potential. Today, in our digital world, education
is a lifelong process. In this world of accelerating
change and a supercharged global economy, anyone who stops
learning risks dropping out of the world - or being dropped
While the costs of dropping out or being excluded from lifetime
learning are high, technology is making it so much easier
to stay in the game. Just look at how new technology can connect
minds in once isolated places. Affordable wireless information
and learning appliances will soon be able to connect globally,
without wire-line grids, without power grids. Solar power
will run them when the nearest power line is 500 miles away.
Last summer, in the same tradition that led us to invent
the first handheld scientific calculator, HP introduced a
wireless learning appliance. It looks like a handheld calculator,
it's the size and shape and form of a handheld calculator,
but it is in fact a Web-enabled device focused on middle-school
In other words, if your child is sitting in biology class
and is daydreaming about other things, the teacher can link
them to a rainforest in Malaysia. Or if your children are
studying Chinese, their teacher can link them to a classroom
in Shanghai so that they can converse with foreign students
in the language they are learning.
At the university level, three out of four U.S. colleges
and universities now offer online courses. More than 2 million
students will enroll in distance-learning programs by 2002.
Total revenues from e-learning technology, services, and content
should reach $11 billion by 2003. Global trends are the same.
New technology is now enabling piano students and their teachers
to talk with each other and hear what they are playing in
real time even though they may be 8,000 miles apart.
There's no better evidence of how our new technology can
unlock and connect minds than what's going on in India. NIIT
is a large computer-training and software-service firm in
New Delhi. But its corporate headquarters adjoins a colony
of squatters and day laborers. The scientists at NIIT literally
tunneled a hole through the wall and placed a PC there, facing
the people outside, to see what would happen. And without
any training, the kids there, from ages 8 to 11, have gradually
taught themselves how to use this PC - surfing the Web, downloading
Hindi music, playing games, and even landing 747s on a flight
And in the Amazon jungles of Peru, a tribe that says it
has gotten nothing from 80 years of modernization other than
poverty and disease is now saying that the Internet is the
first piece of technology that really helps them. They've
already boosted their incomes by exporting organic fruit online,
and their kids who have never left the village are chatting
with other kids in Canada and Europe.
THE IMPORTANCE OF DIVERSITY
That's how technology is bringing us together. But let's think
for a moment about a counter-benefit: about how technology can
help us maintain our individuality. Let's think about how technology
can both be stimulated by diversity and how it can promote diversity.
The cartoon of globalization - where everybody eats at McDonald's
and everybody has to shop at Wal-Mart - misses the very populist
and revolutionary nature of the digital economy. I would propose
that the Internet and what it does to companies and governments
and countries is not a source of comfort for the elite.
When AOL can buy Time Warner, when AT&T is searching for
a new business plan, when Ford gives $20 billion back to shareholders
because it doesn't need money anymore - what it really needs
is better ideas - then we know the old stereotype of capitalism
is being rewritten. The fact is, the digital economy works
against entrenched interests that have no intellectual assets.
And good ideas can grow as well in garages and villages as
they can in board rooms - maybe even better.
But the accusations against cultural uniformity have more
bite. While people and companies and markets must be connected
globally - to build global understanding and spread global
wealth - the best ideas and invention arise from people who
think differently, look different, and live in different places.
The digital revolution even gives us the tools to fortify
and revive ancient and diverse traditions that were endangered
by other trends of cultural assimilation. For example, the
Huron tribe of Quebec thought they were doomed to extinction.
This proud North American tribe was down to fewer than 1,000
people a few years ago. Then technology did its work. Using
the Internet, the Hurons have discovered members dispersed
over the years to places like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Ontario.
Now their group numbers 10,000 and holds regular tribal reunions
to share history and traditions.
It's all part of a wider trend. The world's native groups
- long regarded as "primitive" by their ruling societies -
are using the Web to spread their ideas and build ties to
one another. There are thousands of indigenous Internet sites
now, run by everyone from the Kadazan of Malaysia to the Maoris
of New Zealand.
Now let me talk about how technology is transforming how
education is delivered.
Technology enables the same changes that are reshaping business
and government to transform education. I've already mentioned
e-learning. But other changes will be possible, if you want
them. Just as the Internet has slashed the cost of travel and
financial services, it could slash the cost of a university
education. Just as the Internet is transforming the purpose
and shape and size of the corporation, it could do the same
for the educational organization. Just as the Internet is bringing
business closer to customers and markets and their real needs,
it could do the same for education.
To show how this could be done, we've developed an e-learning
solution called Virtual Classroom to be distributed over the
Web. It's unique because we are offering it as a hosted solution.
This gives people an affordable utility model for learning
- a model where people pay only for the education they want.
They don't have to invest in a lot of technology that they
won't use beyond the class. Institutions like it because they
lease only the capacity they need. And this technology is
scalable for international distribution.
Many of these transformations lie ahead. Educators will
determine their shape and scope. As a representative of a
global company with a long tradition of support for education
- and a strong belief in business ties to education - let
me tick off a few of our other HP ventures in this area that
might stimulate your imagination.
As I said, everyone on the planet has the potential to be virtually
closer than ever before - immediately, interactively. But while
the technology exists to make this happen, we're a long way
away from realizing it and a long way away from reaching a balanced
global economy. While 6 billion people live in this world, only
about 2 billion of us have access to the technology to participate
in the digital economy.
HP has always had a strong commitment to community service
and to education in particular. In fact, we've invested more
than $1 billion in it over the last 15 years. Now, we've announced
a major corporate initiative to connect the emerging market
economies - or what we could just as easily call the excluded
We're calling this initiative, World
e-Inclusion. And we're focusing it directly on the rural
poor in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Central and Eastern
Europe. More specifically, we've challenged ourselves:
World e-Inclusion brings technology to rural villages to spur
micro-enterprise and economic development, including distance
learning, telemedicine, micro banking, communications, and access
to world markets.
- to touch 1,000 villages across the world through "on-the-ground"
initiatives that provide measurable social and economic
benefits to communities,
- to enlist one million partners - ranging from major alliances
and global partners to regional organizations to local project
teams to individuals at the grassroots level,
- and to target $1 billion of HP and partner products and
services to be sold, leased, or donated through special
But although we're a technology company, HP's World e-Inclusion
is more about people than it is about technology. We believe
that people are the solution, while technology is a key tool
to give all of us more control over our own education, health,
and prosperity. Our goal is to give people access to health
care, education, and income opportunities. And we want these
opportunities to be close to home, in the local language,
and compatible with local culture.
Our second principle for World e-Inclusion is partnership.
We know we can't do this alone. Our vision includes a rich
network of partners - some global, most of them local - on
every continent. One reason I'm mentioning this project is
to let potential partners know about it and perhaps inspire
them to join us on this journey.
The third pillar of World E-inclusion is sustainability.
Sustainable solutions and models respect social and cultural
mores and traditions. They draw power from differences, and
they affirm openness and freedom. Sustainable solutions create
their own dynamic of change.
I'd like to close by quoting the godfather of international
education exchange - the late Senator J. William Fulbright:
Educational exchange can turn nations into people,
contributing as no other form of communication can to the
humanizing of international relations. Man's capacity for
decent behavior seems to vary directly with his perception
of others as individual humans with human motives and feelings,
whereas his capacity for barbarism seems related to his perception
of an adversary in abstract terms as the embodiment of some
evil design or ideology.
Those words hold true almost 40 years after they were uttered.
Our task is to bring the tools of the Internet revolution
fully into the service of global understanding and positive
global change. Our task is to understand, preserve, and fortify
the unique attributes of each person, country, and culture
that make this world such a rich tapestry. And, at the same
time, we need to use that diversity to drive new levels of
invention and global participation.
Only then will international educational exchange have reached
its full potential. Only then will we as a people have reached
our full potential. Only then can we say the dream of Fulbright
and IIE is anywhere close to coming true. And only then can
we who call ourselves educators and inventors begin to think
that our job is done.
Let's join forces, to make it happen. Thank you.
Back To Top