NATIONAL SCHOOL BOARDS ASSOCIATION'S 16TH ANNUAL TECHNOLOGY + LEARNING CONFERENCE
NOVEMBER 13, 2002
"TECHNOLOGY AND EDUCATION: A GREAT PARTNERSHIP"
© Copyright 2002 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P
All rights reserved. Do not use without written permission from HP.
Thank you very much and good morning.
It's a real pleasure for me to be here this morning. I also must tell you that prior to coming on stage here, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by B TV. Now, I have some experience with being interviewedsometimes a bit more than I'd like, so I'm a good judge and I can tell you that B TV does a great interview. They ask intelligent questions and listen to the answers. So, thanks very much. [applause] And I think all the students that we saw up here and their great work deserves one more round of applause. That was really impressive. [applause]
It is, as I said, a great pleasure for me to be herenot simply because as a company we have been focused on the education market for a long time; as a person, I have been interested in how companies and educators can work together for many years.
In fact, when I was at MIT, I wrote my thesis on how companies and educators must work together to bring education and the opportunity to fulfill the potential of every student. But beyond the personal interest and a company interest, I'm here because of the energy and passion and dedication throughout our education community that comes here to Dallas.
And so I want to say, first and foremost, before I talk about technology, I'd like to begin this morning by saying a very sincere thank you for all that you do on behalf of the children of our nation and the future of our nation.
Now, I have to be honest, it is a somewhat daunting task to come before you and speak about education and technology. And it reminded me as I was thinking about this opportunity this morning of that old story about the man who survived the famous flood at Johnstown. All of his life, this man would tell everyone about the flood and his experiences in the flood. And when he died, he, of course, went to heaven and asked St. Peter to round up an audience so that he could once again talk about the flood.
And Saint Peter said, "I'd be happy to, but you need to remember that Noah will be in the audience." [laughter] And so, that is a little how I feel today, particularly after seeing the well-deserved award, all of you know as much about technology and education as any technologist.
And I think that's an important message I want to convey to you today because I believe it's the reason I'm attracted to technology, the reason I have the great privilege of leading what is now the number one technology company in the world. You might think it's odd that someone who majored in history and philosophy would end up in a technology company.
The reason I love technology is not the technology itself, although that is exciting. The reason I love technology is because of what it makes possible. And I think the great lesson of technology and education is that for technology to be effective in the classroom, it must be a real collaboration between practitioners who have a passion for unlocking the potential in every child, and technologists who have a passion for what technology makes possible.
One year ago, U.S. News and World Report conducted an interesting survey. They asked some of the leading teachers, inventors and entrepreneurs in America to imagine what classrooms would look like in the year 2025. And what's interesting is that in some ways, all of the inventors and entrepreneurs suggested somewhat high-minded, pie-in-the-sky visions of the future. But all the teachers actually saw a very practical vision of the future.
For instance, one former congressman suggested that in the year 2025, students would go into emergent centers where they could use technology to submerge themselves in a dozen different learning experiences. And certainly, there is a day when virtual reality will be virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
A well-known CEO suggested that the information students needed for class would no longer be printed on paper; rather, everything would be created and carried electronically. And certainly, more and more digital content is created and carried electronically.
One venture capitalist even suggested that there would not be classrooms at all; rather, we would all work out of interactive spaces and all lessons would be taught on a 16-by-9 foot set of formatted screens that would give you the experience of an IMAX theater. Apparently, popcorn was not included in this vision.
But when the teachers were asked the same question, here's what they said: one teacher said that the use of technology and the wider availability of laptops will make students more keenly aware of events, of places, and the experiences of people around the world and help them become better citizens.
Another teacher said that the technology will go from simply being a source of information to a source of shared experience; that students in classrooms in Texas or California will be able to communicate real-time with students in Syria or Israel and learn about one another, and approach situations without prejudice. And, in fact, this is happening in some distance learning collaborations that Hewlett-Packard is running today.
Finally, a third teacher said that technology will be useful in developing strong relationships between people, but ultimately, technology will continue to develop the one tool that is the most important of all the mind.
Not long ago, we at HP took that same experiment one step further. We asked a group of high school students in California what classrooms would look like in the year 2025. One student imagined that classrooms in 2025 would have voice-activated chalkboards that write what you say so that your arm doesn't get tired along the way.
Another imagined that each student would have a personal robot that would take notes, backup files, and even cut your lawn on a hot, Saturday afternoon. Another student imagined that there would be virtual reality classes that would teach any subject. So if you needed help in Math, you'd press a button and presto! Einstein might appear as a personal tutor.
And one of the best answers came from a student who suggested that the real question for the year 2025 wasn't what the future had in store for technology, but whether somebody would finally create a really good microwavable pizza. [laughter]
And so there you have it. If you look 25 years in the future, inventors are imagining wild devices. Some of them will come to pass; some of them may never be practical. Students are already looking for ways that robots can do their work while they munch on really good microwavable pizza. And teachers are focused on the practical applications of technology, and how we use technology to create smarter kids, better citizens, and a better world.
So my question to you is, who do you think is the most important factor in this equation? The truth is, as much as technology changes in the next 25 years, technology will always only be a tool. The most important component in our classrooms will remain the same thing as they are today: teachers. Teachers with the passion and the imagination to use technology to unlock human potential and to train both minds and character.
As technologists, we may know a lot about how to invent different kinds of technologies but you are the ones that know how to fire the imagination of your students, to shape minds, to unlock potential. And if you take one thing away from what I have to say today, it is this: technology is only as valuable as the purpose towards which it is put. Technology is only as valuable as the dedication, the passion, the commitment and the excitement of the people who choose to work with it.
Every time we enter into a school district, we know that the difference between a successful application of technology and a failed application of technology is the people who choose to use it and the commitment and excitement with which they use the tool we provide.
It is the same thing in many ways as putting Serena Williams' tennis racket or Eric Clapton's guitar in my hands. The same results would not be achieved. Laptops and tablet PCs and interactive learning will only be as powerful as the imagination of the teachers who help guide their development.
And the challenge for all of usfor those of us who create the technology and for those of you who teach it and use it the challenge is for us to continue to work together to make technology the most powerful and positive force in children's lives that it can be.
I believe, despite the economic downturn, despite the technology downturn, despite the dotcom bubble bursting, that we are at a point in human history where technology will truly become pervasive in every person's life. The technology will become more intimate, more deeply woven into the fabric of our lives, in many ways. In other words, that technology will become less visible but more important. That it is a tool for all of us to use but that it is fundamentally a means to an end, not an end in itself.
Now, I think there is this dynamic of collaboration that I am talking about. This dynamic of partnership between people who understand what technology can do and people who have the passion and commitment and understanding of what purposes technology should be pointed towards.
I think there are some historical examples of this kind of collaboration. You heard in the introduction that I was a medieval history major. An odd choice I know, but for me, it was an interesting period in human history because mankind went from darkness and despair into lightness and possibility and optimism. And I was curious about how we made that shift.
When you look at the Renaissance which, of course, marked the dividing line between a period of dark pessimism and a period of bright optimism, at the beginning of the Renaissance there were a lot more educated people than at the end of the Renaissance. And in the early days, only the elites were educated. Manuscripts were so valuable that monasteries and libraries actually secured them with chains. A century later, schools were much more widespread and books were printed in dozens of languages. So what happened?
Well, the first thing that happened, of course, was the printing press was invented, but that alone didn't make the difference. The technology was necessary but not sufficient. It was only when an entrepreneurial group of printers linked up with a group of scholars and these scholars translated the original Latin into dozens of different languages, only then did learning become widespread.
In other words, it was only when the people who had the newest technology joined forces with the educators who could help make use of the technology did the Renaissance achieve its true potential.
I tell that story because I believe in many ways we are the heirs of those printers and scholars. I think history now calls on us to work together, the technologists, the teachers, the applications for us to work together to widen the communities of knowledge in today's world.
Now, we have been honored to be a technology partner to many, many school districts around the country. And just since we announced the closing of our merger, and that merger was done to make us a stronger, more capable technology partner, and now the number one technology company in the world.
But just since May, we have been honored to deepen our relationship with school districts right here in Texas and all across the United States. We are honored to be a technology partner with the Houston Independent School District, with the Katy Independent School District, and with the Dallas Independent School District who has outsourced the management of their information technology infrastructure to us.
We are honored as well to be a partner to public schools in Georgia, in Maryland, in Virginia, all across the United States. And when we partner with these school districts to provide technology, of course we are focused on providing the latest and greatest laptops, the latest and greatest mobile computing labs, the latest and greatest handheld devices.
We are focused as well on providing an information technology that is reliable, scalable, and availablean infrastructure that reduces complexity for administrators and educators, not making technology more complex. We believe that you as users of technology are focused on the best return on information technology. And for us delivering the best return on information technology, whether we are providing professional services like outsourcing, or providing $49.99 photo printers or multi-million dollar digital publishing systems, whether we are providing palm-top computing or super computing, whether we are providing servers, or storage, or network management capability. Whatever it is we are providing, we think what we need to provide is the best return on information technology. And for us that means lowest total cost of ownership, improved productivity, reduced complexity, better interoperability, and improved manageability and agility, so that your information technology changes with your requirements, not that you are imprisoned by the capabilities of technology and, of course, quality and reliability and security.
But in all those interactions, with all of the school districts that we have the honor to serve, with all of the technology, the products, the people, the applications, the software that we provide, in the end, we always look for a collaborationnot where we take over the management of information technology, but where we partner to provide the best of your vision of what must happen in the classroom, what needs to happen to administer a school effectively and efficiently, and our knowledge of what technology can make possible.
This collaboration is the difference in our experience between successful technology investments and unsuccessful technology investments. It is part of what makes your return on information technology the best it can be.
Now, I think when we collaborate in this way, we share something very fundamental. It starts with the power of an idea with one person, or one inventor, or a group of inventors who are dreaming up a product, or a service, or a solution, or a skill that has never been thought of before. Seeing that invention through from conception, to design, to execution, working hard to move it from idea to reality, and believing in the power of that idea when others say it will never work, it won't succeed, it can't be done.
And of the National Association of School Boards and the schools that you serve so well, I think your dreams also start with the power of an idea. And your labors every day are inspired by the power of an idea. And that idea is that every single child has it within himself or herself to learn what they need to learn to be a success in life even when it requires you to phase down the cynics who say: "but they don't speak English," or they didn't grow up in the right place, or they don't look quite right, or they can't make it, because we all know that every person has the potential and the will to succeed.
I think for too many years, it was too easy to assume that just because some students didn't have the same opportunities as everyone else, they didn't have talent. And what all of you are helping to prove is that those assumptionsthose stigmas are wrong. Not only does every single person have potential inside them, no matter what they look like or where they came from, but the right teachers and the right schools married to the right use of technology can help unlock potential and take students, all of our students and this country to places it has never been before.
We have all seen what is possible when young minds and young imaginations get fired up by the power of technology. Recently, I was visiting an underserved grade school in East Palo Alto of California. And there, it is routine to see grade-schoolers at recess sitting on a curb with their coats over their heads, not to hide from other students but to block the glare on their laptop computers.
I have met C, D and F students in one class who have used calculators and wireless technology in just two year's time, to raise their collective grade point average by one point and their collective reading level by three grades.
I have been to schools in Africa where the chemistry lab had no equipment. No beakers, no chemicals, just empty desks, where teachers would draw pictures on blackboards of what a chemical reaction was supposed to look like. But I have also walked down the hall to that same school to the computer lab where you would find students who had located a chemistry Web site on the Internet and they were developing a chemistry experiment online.
Now, of course, this is not just an issue that affects some of us. It affects all of us. And you know better than anyone that our success as a nation significantly depends on how we prepare our young peopleour young people who come in all sizes and shapes and colors and backgrounds.
If we want the world to fulfill its real potential, we have to make all of our children truly prepared. And the title of the federal legislation is right; we cannot afford to leave any child behind from our point of view, both here in this country and around the world, because we are a global company with people in 160 countries. We do business in over 100 languages.
In fact, more than half of our business is outside the United States. But for us, it is not only the right thing to doit is also good business because we find whether it is here in the U.S. or around the world. Sometimes our best ideas come from the places and the people who have had to overcome the greatest barriers, who have had to work the hardest to unlock their potential.
Now this is a company I am proud to represent a company that has always believed that our character is as important as our capability; that the values that define us: trust, respect, integrity, team work and collaborationthat those values are as important to our future success as any piece of technology we develop; a company that has always believed that our contributions are as important as our profitability; and a company that believes as well that we must contributenot just for our shareowners, not just for our customers, not just for our employeesbut for our communities as well.
As far back as 1957, we encouraged our employees to take four hours per month on company time to work in local schools. Thirteen years ago, we began working with many leading organizations like NSBA to develop corporate-wide K through 12 goals so that we could focus our education partnerships and collaborations on increasing student achievement in math and science, and we've had particular emphasis on our programs since then on keeping underprivileged, underserved, reaching underprivileged and underserved communities and in particular, in keeping girls and minority students engaged in science and math.
And I'll close by saying that this is a course for us, an issue of enlightened self-interest, as much as it is about business or philanthropy. Education is the single most effective lever for increasing economic prosperity. It is the single most effective lever, the most important lever for growing a diverse, highly skilled work force.
And so, the more we togethertechnology and educators, technologists and practitionersthe more we work together to help students fulfill their potential, the stronger our economy will be, and the stronger our country will be, the stronger our world will be.
It is a great honor for me to be here today, with all of you that worked so hard to turn that vision into reality, because for us at HP, the magic of technology is not what we make. The magic is what technology makes possible.
Thank you very much.
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