On May 14th, VIPKid participated in The Atlantic’s 5th annual Education Summit in Washington D.C. This year’s Summit focused on “Serving Every Student,” and explored issues and solutions around ensuring that every child is given an equal chance to succeed through quality education. This is a topic that we at VIPKid believe is so important so we were thrilled to have an opportunity to support and participate in the Summit. Taking place at D.C.’s iconic Newseum, we joined teachers, principals, policymakers, higher education officials, parents and students for a day of lively discussions and discourse.
Bringing together experts in their field, our panel on “Technology’s Social Impact on the Classroom” was moderated by VIPKid’s Global Head of Public Policy, Wenchi Yu. The discussion covered the benefits and challenges of technology in education, how technology can make education more equitable, and how we can ensure that all students are recipients of the benefits of technology.
Our distinguished panelists included British A. Robinson, President and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy; Dr. Malbert Smith, CEO and President of MetaMetrics; Jake Steel, Deputy Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education; and Rebecca Upham, Executive Chairwoman and Vice Chancellor for Whittle School & Studios.
While each panelist is engaged in different aspects of education, they all had thoughts to share on how technology can best be used to improve learning outcomes for students. All agreed that technology is important, but is just one part of the solution. As Dr. Malbert Smith noted, “technology is an arrow in the quiver of an educator.” British Robinson explained that technology can be a “real tool for supplemental learning” and help overcome societal barriers. It is not meant to supplant the teacher, but rather to supplement.
Speaking to trends in the industry, Jake Steel pointed out that through technology, we are finding ways to make teachers masters of education, in addition to engaging students with more personalized education. “Every student is valuable, every single one, and they learn differently,” he noted. Rebecca Upham shared that one powerful trend emerging through technology and critical to the Whittle School is collaboration. Students are now able to “establish collaboration with other young people across borders,” she explained.
With just an hour for the panel, we were only able to scratch the surface of what our panelists’ organizations are doing to increase education equity, so we suggest readers learn more about them on their websites. Lookout for upcoming videos from two of our panelists in our thought leadership series as well!
We were excited that three VIPKid teachers from the D.C. area, Brenna O’Grady, Sandi McKinney and Melodie Lim, were able to join us for the day to partake in the conversations. “I was impressed with the panelists’ desire to use technology as a tool to connect all students with a high quality education,” said teacher Melodie. “These experts understand the challenges but they continue to look for solutions. I was also reminded of how not all children receive the same access to educational opportunities. I appreciate how VIPKid always pushes the conversation deeper regarding education and technology. As a VIPKid teacher, I feel that I am always learning how to use technology effectively to teach my students that are thousands of miles away.”
After kicking off The Atlantic EDU Summit, the rest of the day gave us an opportunity to learn from the Summit’s impressive speakers, meet other attendees who are passionate about the future of education, and enjoy a drumline performance from Excel Academy. It was a fulfilling and energizing day for all and we are grateful for the chance to we had to be a part of it.