This article is a summary of the second edition of La French Touch (un)Conference San Francisco, which took place on January, 16 2018.
Built around the Positive Impact theme, this event was dedicated to discussing how actors of entrepreneurial ecosystems could positively impact their environments and society through innovation.
The panel discussed the future of education and the role Edtech is playing in educating the new generations.
The third panel featured six speakers:
- Eve Chaurand, President of San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
- Terence Lim, Senior Director of Content Udemy
- Kwame Yamgnane, Managing Director at Ecole 42 USA and 42 co-founder
- Juliette Somma, Business Development Manager at Lalilo
- Julien Barbier, co-Founder & CEO of Holberton School
- Ted Tagami, CEO and co-founder of Magnitude.io and Chaiman of Summer.org
The topic of education has always been a political matter. Today, the private sector plays an integrant part in education, to the extent that they offer a new curriculum to provide children the necessary tools for tomorrow’s job. The discussion reminded us of the leverage hold by the Edtech industry.
The panel emphasized the human component of education. Education shapes society, especially the trajectory of the culture, habits that will define social norms, the nature of relationships, and the competency of the future labor force. Such idea is found behind the launch of Edtech schools, including Holberton or Ecole 42. Building teacher-free schools aim to reinforce the pro-active and creative skills of students, by teaching the diligence of trying & failing several times and to develop sub-skills such as humility, or teamwork. Those competencies provide to students the capacity to create tomorrow’s jobs and shape a more humane world.
Another characteristic of Edtech is the assistance provided to teachers. We need to remember that most of the teachers did not grow with social media, tech devices or the Internet, and only a few received a digital training. Empowering the teachers with those new skills will be valuable for pupils in the future. The accessibility of online courses makes knowledge reachable anywhere, anytime and in any language. Eventually, it creates collaborative learning platforms available to the global community.
The global aspect of Edtech also requires cultural-sensitivity. Depending on the language and the culture, one subject is not taught the same way. For instance, in English, the separation of numbers is done every third digit while in Chinese Mandarin, it is every fourth digit: English natives see $300,000 while Chinese-speakers will read $30,0000. Such example illustrates cultural and linguistic differences of spelling numbers, and more extensively of doing mathematics. Thus, one parameter that should be respected in Edtech is to acculturate education based on local specificities. Education is obviously a global issue, yet it also carries traditional values and customs that need to be protected. Therefore, one challenge of Edtech will be to offer education to all, without falling into the standardization of education and cultural homogenization.
Consequently, Edtech gives the world the opportunity to create educated and responsible citizens. The toolkits of those digital courses are designed to create tech-oriented workers that are and will be increasingly demanded. It seems that the traditional model for education is outdated, and is being disrupted by alternative schools. Edtech offers better learning at a lower-cost as well as a wider access to education to the global community.