Education Trends

CoSN Day 2: White House CTO Fires Up for Innovation

March 2, 2010

Editor's Note: Don't miss David's dispatch from Day 1.

My second day at the CoSN Conference, also known as Consortium of School Networking, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in northwest Washington, D.C., was almost as enlightening as the first. Especially, when I discovered that the Shoreham Hotel is where the Beatles stayed at the height of their Beatlemania tour in 1964.Where Harry Truman used to sneak in to play cards with his old buddies from the Senate. Where Frank Sinatra famously serenaded Nancy Reagan in front of a packed ballroom, and Bill Clinton wailed on his sax at his first Inauguration Ball in 1992. But I digress, education technology was the topic of the day, and one speaker's message was especially invigorating.

Aneesh Chopra is the White House Chief Technology Officer. Or you may know him as the man Jon Stewart dubbed the Indian George Clooney. In truth, he's an American from Trenton, NJ, a Johns Hopkins grad and at age 38 the m-a-n for leading efforts to leverage technology to help create jobs, lower the costs of health care, keep the homeland secure, and reform education. Call him the Indian-American Superman if he succeeds at even half that list.

Chopra covered a lot of points as he reviewed the obstacles and promises for using technology to deliver value in efforts to change the learning process. On the topic of innovation, he became very energized, extolling the opportunities of the Department of Education's $650 million Investment in Innovation Fund.

He exhorted his listeners and educators across the country to get busy articulating and sharing their ideas for change in the Open Innovation Portal, an online community he and Secretary Arne Duncan have launched, where folks can submit and share their proposals for innovation. The best ideas (those that have been proved out and can be scaled) will get resourced by the Investment in Innovation Fund. Or, Chopra reports, good ideas will be snapped up and funded by private philanthropists and foundations.

I have not yet joined and can't vouch for the user experience at the Open Portal. And getting your ideas funded by the DoE or private philanthropists won't be easy. But it seems only good can come when people share ideas for change and partner together to make them better, which Chopra believes will be the great value of this community. His enthusiasm to help people kindle their vision and to nurture that process hit all the right notes.

Have any of you checked out the Open Invitation Portal?

-- David Markus, Edutopia's editorial director

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