By Geoffrey Smith and Alan Murray
July 13, 2016

Good morning.


The discussions at Fortune Brainstorm Tech this year highlighted how new technologies, from artificial intelligence to virtual reality, are fundamentally transforming nearly every sector of the economy. But there is one notable exception: the K-12 education system, which remains largely impervious to technology’s benefits.


Why? That’s the question I asked a group of 28 education and technology experts who secluded themselves for a couple of hours yesterday morning to try and come up with some answers. The session was co-hosted by Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute and Susanna Schrobsdorff of Time, and included a mix of school system superintendents, entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders.


At the top of their list for change was a concerted effort to ensure all students, and all schools, have access to high-speed broadband – still something that roughly a quarter of all students go without. But the second priority – and the one that consumed much of the morning’s discussion – was the need for better systems to drive adoption of best educational practices.


The problem, all attending seemed to agree, is not that there aren’t lots of teachers and schools and organizations who have developed good methods for using technology to provide individualized instruction to students. The problem is that most of those successes remain one-offs. “We are tired of little pilots,” said one attendee. What’s needed is a system to spotlight “pockets of excellence,” and bring those methods to scale. You can read Rob Hackett’s detailed summary of the panel here.


In the private sector, as conversations on the Brainstorm Tech main stage highlighted, those who don’t adopt best practices risk going out of business. In education, however, there’s usually no such threat. As a result, creating a system for bringing best-practices to all classrooms remains a challenge.


More news below, including other highlights from Brainstorm Tech.


Alan Murray


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