Here’s a question for you: What is your opinion as to the importance of EdTech in education? EdTech, as you know, is short for educational technology.
What defines EdTech, you ask?
Good question! You see the term everywhere but no definitions. So let’s go with the definition advanced by our good friends at Wikipedia: "Educational technology, sometimes termed EdTech, is the study and ethical practice of facilitating e-learning, which is the learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources…" "Appropriate technological processes and resources" include more than just the Internet, although online courses are important tools; tablets, computers, cell phones, the whole digital zoo is included. Even robots! Especially robots!
New York, like many cities large and small in this country, wants to build its own answer to Silicon Valley. Unlike many other cities, New York has really leaned into this initiative.
New York persuaded Facebook and Google to open offices in the city. It worked with local business partners to set up high-tech incubation centers to attract new tech jobs. New York also put lots of money where its mouth is by looking to create a new high-tech institution of higher learning and opening several STEM programs in the city's five boroughs.
In 2011 former mayor Michael Bloomberg, convinced that the city’s once dominant financial sector was too volatile to be a dependable economic engine for the city, pushed the city fathers to ante up free land and $100 million in taxpayer funds to a university or a group of universities willing to build a first-rate engineering or tech campus within the five boroughs. The press came to call this his "genius school" initiative. Several big name universities in the science field including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sanford University entered into what amounted to a competition for the honor of being the "genius school". Cornell University in upstate New York won the competition.
"Mayors just dream of these opportunities."
That’s what San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said after he and schools Superintendent Richard Carranza met with Salesforce.com (SF) founder Marc Benioff. What they were asking for was some financial support for the city’s 12 middle schools to increase technology access. They wanted money to purchase several hundred Ipads for students and training for affected teachers. They thought their request was reasonable if expensive.
What they got was a surprise: "You have to think bigger," Marc Benioff told them. At the end of the day what Mayor Lee and Superintendent Carranza actually walked away with was the Ipads they had originally asked for and a $100,000 grant to every principal at the 12 middle schools. The total donation came to almost three million dollars!