How Google Can Help Improve Education in America
Yesterday, I attended a discussion with Michael Jones, Chief Technology Advocate for Google sponsored by Atlantic Exchange and moderated by Steve Clemons,. I went mostly out of interest in what Google is currently advocating in Washington DC on technology issues. I am familiar with their work on an open internet but I wanted to hear what else Google is undertaking.
Jones is the real genius behind Google Earth and much of the discussion focused on how it is being used and how it might be used. There was, however, a moment where Jones waxed smartly on the subject of education in America. He commented that technology companies in America today complain about the state of the education system in the same way that technology leaders for the last 100 years have done so.
In Jones’ interpretation, the American educational system teaches people to be an almanac, that is to memorize facts rather than to learn how to think in a way that uses facts. To paraphrase him again, Google needs people who know how to invent new kinds of bridges, not people who can build the same bridge 50 times.
Being a strategic communicator and a veteran of public affairs campaigns, I asked what Google was doing to advance an education reform agenda. Jones responded that the people at Google are not educators, that they provide information and its up to the educators to decide how to use it.
I think the brevity of the format probably just did not allow Jones to elaborate on the potential ways that Google might get involved. Google’s role in promoting educational reform in America should not just be limited to providing information that can empower educators, because that ignores the power of this company to communicate and the importance of a communications campaign in promoting reform.
Google must see the tremendous opportunity to get behind the educational reform that will generate American graduates with the skills they need. A strategic communications campaign that engages parents, teachers and administrators across America in their local communities but as part of a national campaign to change education would be effective and powerful. However, it will also be expensive and requires the resources that a company like Google can provide.
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