During a presentation at the Technonomy conference in San Francisco last week, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said online learning can shrink the cost of higher education by eroding the need for place-based instruction, The Hill reports. “College, except for the parties, needs to be less place-based,” he said, adding that moving more learning activities online can bring down the soaring cost of a college degree. “Only technology can bring [college tuition] down, not just to $20,000, but to $2,000,” he said, citing price tags as high as $50,000 for a year of college. Gates predicted that technology soon could make place-based learning five times less important for college and university students. But for students in elementary and high school, Gates said he did not foresee online education shaking up the traditional framework anytime soon. “I do not predict some radical change in that,” he said. “K-12 is partly about babysitting the kids so the parents can do other things.” Still, he said, technology would allow half the students in a class to be occupied with one activity while others are learning something entirely different. He also hailed charter schools for looking for ways to use technology to enhance their offerings. “Thank God for charters,” he said. “There’s no room for innovation in the standard system.”…Read More
Podcast Series: Innovations in Education
Explore the full series of eSchool News podcasts hosted by Kevin Hogan—created to keep you on the cutting edge of innovations in education.
Bill Gates: Better software modeling is a key
CNET reports that a key to many hard problems, from using nuclear power to combating diseases, is better software modeling, Bill Gates said on Aug. 6. While it’s not surprising that he’s a fan of using software to help solve hard problems, it is somewhat surprising that there aren’t already good models for some diseases. “There’s no disease-modeling software,” he said, speaking at the end of the three-day Techonomy conference here. “There is none. Why is flu seasonal? We don’t know.” Gates said he aims to make sure that gap is filled, supporting development of the tools needed to do such modeling, while he also wants to use modeling to further explore nuclear power options, such as the Terrapower effort he is backing. “On paper it’s quite amazing but it is hard to go from here to there,” he said. Gates said he also plans to offer up the modeling software package for free for others to use……Read More
Google: Brace yourselves for the data explosion
Google CEO Eric Schmidt had some scary things to say about privacy, reports PC World. In a nutshell, he said there’s an almost incomprehensible amount of data out there about all of us–much of which we’ve generated ourselves via social networks, blogs, and so on–and we are totally unprepared to deal with the implications of that fact. Schmidt was speaking at the Techonomy confab, currently underway at California’s Lake Tahoe, where large-brained people gather to talk about how technology and the economy intersect. Schmidt wasn’t really trying to draw disaster scenarios. He noted that a lot of positive benefits can come from the information explosion, and he’s right. Personally, if not for the internet, I might be in another line of work. I’d almost certainly live in another city. Being able to access vast amounts of data without lifting my butt from this ergonomic chair has transformed my life in dozens of ways, as I’m sure it has transformed others’. Of course, Google is in the business of monetizing that data, for which it seems to possess an insatiable appetite. And sometimes it screws up big time. Schmidt didn’t really talk about that. The good side of all this data: instant information about virtually anything. The dark side? Vast potential for personal profiling by your employer, your insurer, and The Man……Read More