Educators, companies come together at SkySong to discuss education’s future

UNIFIED FOR EDUCATION: Hundreds of educators, investors, entrepreneurs and researchers from around the world came together Tuesday and Wednesday at ASU’s SkySong Center for the Education Innovation Summit. (Photo by Kyle Thompson)

More than 300 entrepreneurs, educators, researchers and investors came from all over the world to ASU’s SkySong Center on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss how technology and digital media can be used effectively in education.

Companies came to pitch their ideas for the future of education in the University’s Education Innovation Summit at SkySong, which the University wants to make a center of education innovation.

ASU President Michael Crow opened the two-day meeting, addressing challenges in education today.

“We want to establish ASU as the model for a New American University, measured not by who we exclude, but rather by who we include,” he said.

Educators from across the country attended, including the president and CEO of Chegg.com, founder of The Princeton Review, managing director of Goldman Sachs and many others.

Daniel Rosensweig, former chief operating officer of Yahoo and current president and CEO of Chegg.com, said students today know the future of education and have the power to change it.

“The revolution is starting from within,” Rosensweig said. “It’s starting with students.”

Whether educators and educational companies are changing or not, students are, he said. Some students have created websites to help other students that have generated millions of hits, he said.

“The best products and services that improve people’s ability to learn — using whatever way they learn best — are going to be to the things kids use every day,” going to Rosensweig said.

Education is going to be changed by people who grew up every day with the Internet, mobile phones, TiVo, and iPhones, he said.

“Let’s turn it over to the hands of kids,” Rosensweig said. “Let’s do everything we can to fix the infrastructure that blocks learning.”

Companies also pitched products they hope to use to stimulate education through digital media and social networking. Brady Wood, vice president of marketing and business for Shmoop.com, a website created to make learning about literature fun, pitched his company’s product.

“We really want students to learn and want the learning process to be relevant and fun,” Wood said.

Shmoop offers book summaries and iPhone and iPad applications to its users to use on the go.

Trying to make students more excited about learning is the company’s main goal, he said.

Brian Buser, director of outreach for Grockit.com, a social networking website for learning, said today’s students work through problems together over the Internet.

“What’s cool about [Grockit.com] is that there are game-like mechanics,” he said. “You get points and badges for getting questions correct.”

Students can publish their points and badges to Facebook, he said.

“If you can possibly make studying fun, that’s what we’re trying to do,” he said.

Rosensweig said younger generations are learning differently and changes in education are needed.

“If it doesn’t help the kids, they won’t care,” he said. “I trust the younger generation to know if they are learning.”

Reach the reporter at mmbarke1@asu.edu