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NOVEMBER 1, 2000

© 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.


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.


Look at the tools we have today:

  • With the Internet revolution, we now have the potential to connect the thinkers of every village and outpost on earth.
  • More importantly, we now have the potential to promote mutual understanding and respect between every corner of the globe.
  • 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.
Isn't this what international educators have always wanted and worked for?

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 out.

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 applications.

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 simulator.

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.


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 market economies.

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:

  • 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 e-inclusion programs.
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.

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.

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