JAIME CASAP – CRYSTAL BALLING WITH LEARNNOVATORS

Jaime Casap is the Chief Education Evangelist at Google, Inc. Jaime evangelizes the power

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ABOUT JAIME CASAP (Chief Education Evangelist at Google, Inc.)

Jaime Casap is the Chief Education Evangelist at Google, Inc. Jaime evangelizes the power and potential of the web, technology, and Google tools as enabling and supporting capabilities in pursuit of creating powerful learning models. Jaime works with educational organizations around the world, helping them find ways to continuously improve the quality of education by utilizing and enabling technology capabilities. Jaime is a member of the Google for Education Team and works across other Google teams, including, Google Fiber, the Google Policy Team, the YouTube Team, and the Google Capital Team.

In addition to his role at Google, Jaime serves on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Science Foundation, New Global Citizens, Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and serves as an advisor to dozens of organizations focused on education and access, including South by Southwest EDU (SXSWedu,) the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and is on the GSV Advisors Advisory Board. Jaime is also an adjunct professor at Arizona State University, where he teaches classes and guest lectures.

You can reach and follow Jaime on Google+ at +Jaime Casap and Twitter @jcasap

ABOUT THIS INTERVIEW SERIES:

Crystal Balling with Learnnovators’ is a thought-provoking interview series that attempts to gaze into the future of e-learning. It comprises stimulating discussions with industry experts and product evangelists on emerging trends in the learning landscape.

Join us on this exciting journey as we engage with thought leaders and learning innovators to see what the future of our industry looks like

THE INTERVIEW:

1. Learnnovators: As the Chief Education Evangelist for Google, you have been on a mission to spread the gospel of quality education around the world. How has the journey been so far?

Jaime: The journey has been good, but is still going on. In general, if we think about what’s happening in the world of education, I’d like to say that education isn’t necessarily broken. What we need to do is, look at education and make sure that it’s reflecting the new economy, and that of the country’s future. What I mean by that is that every country is different, and every region in every country is different, and we have to adjust to those.

For example, here in the U.S, when education was set up in the early 1900s, its objective was to produce workers for a factory / industrial setting. So we created an education system that reflected that… a factory model of education, where we would give kids a certain amount of knowledge or certain amount of information so that they could perform in general society. And that was great… it worked effectively and it created one of the greatest economies in the world, and all the other things that we love about what we’ve been able to do here in terms of “innovation and creativity”. However, that education system does not support the new economy of the U.S. It does not support the new networks, the new collaborative, knowledge-based economy that we’re creating that will be the future. So, what we need to do in education is change the image of what education looks like so that it reflects that future. That’s in the United States.

In India, for example, you’re still dealing with a lot of industrial regions, you’re still dealing with a lot of agricultural regions, and you’re still dealing with some regions where basic education is required. So, we need to look at education and say “What does it need to look like not just for everyone but for specific regions?”

So one of the things that I think is missing more than anything in education isn’t a specific model, but a culture. A culture of continuous iteration and innovation, a culture of making sure that we are constantly improving in education and that it is constantly reflecting the needs, the skills, the abilities, and the knowledge that students need to thrive in whatever region they’re currently living in.

2. Learnnovators: According to you, during this time of transformational innovation, it is critical that we keep our focus on learning and not on technology. So how do you think technologies are impacting the learning revolution?

Jaime: That’s a great question! Technology is an enabling and supporting capability… it is there to support and enable great learning. Again, when you think about what’s happening… technology is all around us.

In 1995, only 1% of the world was online. And 1995 was not a long time ago. It took us 10 years to get to the first billion people online. It took us 5 years to get to the second billion and it took us 4 years to get to the third billion. Now we have 40% of the world online.

The first thing we should talk about when we refer to technology and education is that 60% of the world still doesn’t have access to the internet. And that’s a huge issue. So, when we talk about the world, let’s think about it in three different categories:

  1. Regions that have good connectivity to the internet
  2. Regions that have limited connectivity to the internet, and
  3. Regions that have no connectivity to the internet

But the important thing is to point out how important the Internet actually is. Because, there’s a direct correlation between your access to information, your access to books, your access to libraries, and whether or not you can be educated.

And so, if you think about information, we no longer have to build libraries… we no longer have to build big buildings with lots of books. Those are still important and lots of universities still need to drive journal production and still need to have information in their libraries. But in terms of cities or rural areas, you used to have to go in and build a library, and bring in books, and let people borrow books and read books. That’s how things used to work. And that was true for most of history. But today, with an internet connection, you have access to a 100 million libraries, a 100 million books, a 100 million journals. You have access to everything!

So it is important to think about technology not in terms of devices (because devices are just the methodology you use to get to the information) but in terms of access to information, access to the internet, access to lessons, to professional development, to applications, to schools, to everything else that’s out there. So when you think about technology from that perspective, then technology becomes something that you need in schools. Just like we used to need books, just like we used to need libraries, we now need the internet. The internet is the new library. It is where we get information from.

Now, that being said, technology shouldn’t necessarily replace teachers. That’s not the goal. Technology is not there to replace teachers. It is there to support and enable teachers to create great learning opportunities, to create great lessons, to help them and their students research and find information and make sense of the information. So, that is the role of technology in education. That’s great in lots of places. But in other places in the world – for example, in India – where you have a shortage of teachers (and we are talking about hundreds of thousands of teachers) how can you use technology to reach massive numbers of students that might not necessarily have someone to teach them first hand? How do we use technology to do that? So, I don’t ever want the focus to be about technology, I want the focus to be about the opportunity that technology brings us to do amazing teaching.

3. Learnnovators: So how do you think Google can play a role here? In what ways do you think Google can help in this situation?

Jaime: Google can help in lots of different ways. The first thing is, our core competency. Our core competency is our mission…, which is “to organize the world’s information and make it accessible and useful”.

So if you think about our mission and what we are supposed to be doing (i.e., organizing the world’s information and making it accessible and useful in every way possible), there’s a direct link, a direct correlation to education. Information is what you need. Education works this way… you take information and you convert it to intelligence and then you get education. So we are at the core of that. Getting access to information is the core of understanding things, the core of learning. And, that’s our primary role… to make sure that we continuously get access to all the world’s information, find ways to make it easier to find, easier to make sense of, easier to categorize.

The second part of our mission is to make sure that you can access the information. So we have to make sure that people can access that information. And we are doing lots of different things in that space including a project here in the U.S called Google Fiber, where we are bringing fiber connectivity to different communities. The idea that dial-up connectivity or even a 100 MB broadband is good enough, is not good enough. So, we are in the business of providing Google Fiber. That’s what we are doing here.

In other parts of the world, we have projects like Project Loon, where we are launching balloons into space to be able to provide internet access to remote areas. We just bought a Drone Program that can help us do that. So the second part of our mission is to make sure that we provide access to the 60% of the people who don’t have information. Those are the fundamental things that we are doing in education across the board and even if we don’t do anything else, I think those two things are critical and important.

In addition to that, we are building tools that we think could be useful for accessing that information and making sense of that information:

  • Google Apps for Education, for example, is a suite of tools that can help you access information and make sense of it.
  • Gmail is there to communicate and collaborate.
  • Google Drive is a way to store documents, to create new knowledge, to collaborate with others.
  • Google Chromebooks is a way to access the information on the internet, collaborate and communicate.

So all the tools, everything that we are building, can play a role in this idea around accessing information and making it useful.

4. Learnnovators: Quoting your son’s story, you say “They don’t think about education as this nine in the morning until three in the afternoon thing: they’re constantly learning, and they’re learning because they are interested, because it’s relevant to them, because they’re engaged in it. Learning is constant, it’s always happening.” Are schools less challenging and less exciting for today’s students? Do students learn more out of the schools than from within them? How are today’s schools equipped with their curriculum and teachers, to handle the inquisitiveness of today’s kids?

Jaime: Yeah, it’s interesting. There hasn’t been a lot of talk about this new generation. We’ve talked about the Baby Boomer Generation, we’ve talked about Generation X, and we’ve talked about Generation Y (or the Millennial Generation). This new generation, the Generation Z, we haven’t talked a lot about.

This is a very interesting generation… they are different than everyone else, in the sense that they are born with technology being part of their lives for the most part. Again, the 40% people who have access to the internet… those children don’t know that the world existed before Google… they don’t know that the world existed before smartphones, before tablets… they don’t remember having to dial the internet on your phone from home.

So this generation (there is two billion of them world-wide) are really the first generation that are born into the digital world. They think of things in a different way. They have a global connected social media network. Their friends aren’t necessarily friends that live next door like when you and I grew up. Their friends can be anywhere in the world. I think 25% of them would have to fly on an airplane to visit someone who they consider a close friend in their network. That’s different than the way that we grew up, right?

So they tend to respond to the world in different ways because they have more access to information, they have more access to things that are out there. They tend to live their lives online. They share details about their lives online, they collaborate with people online, they want to have a social impact in their jobs, and they want to be able to start their own business.

Our generation was more like rule followers. We had to follow rules. We couldn’t break things (when we were kids, we would hear “Don’t break that!” all the time). For this generation, being able to break something, being able to take something apart, being able to hack something is cool.

The traditional classroom was designed and constructed to keep distractions out, to keep kids focused in the classroom. That doesn’t necessarily make sense with this generation. So we need to look at how this generation thinks about information… how they educate themselves… how they learn. They do so in a very different way from the way we learnt. They do most of their research online. Generation Z kids would never go and try to find an encyclopedia to find information… they’d go online. More than 30% of them watch lessons online. 30% of them have worked with someone on a project online. They’ve taken exams online. They’ve read text books and other books on their machines and their tablets.

This generation thinks of things in a completely different way. So we have to look at learning for them in a different way. Where we used to wait for someone to teach us, this generation just has the opportunity to teach themselves… they have the opportunity just to go somewhere and learn. So what we have to do is to make sure that we are providing fast delivery of content with good, complex graphics. We have to make sure that we are meeting their need for speed and instant gratification… that we are making sure that they have interactive multimedia learning experiences, the way they have it on World of Warcraft or Minecraft or League of Legends (the games that they play). We have to make sure that we take advantage of the fact that they have short attention spans and we have to make sure that they are doing lessons in short little bursts. They are very hard to teach. They are growing up in a completely different way than we did. So we have to make sure that we reflect an education model for them because they are very different from what we were.

5. Learnnovators: Future-thinking and forward-focused organizations like Google are allowing their employees to be ‘Entre-ployees’ (employees who are also entrepreneurs). There are many who feel that entrepreneurship is one of the best settings for children to learn. Do you advocate making entrepreneurship part of the school curriculum in order to prepare our children for the future economy?

Jaime: That’s a great question. I think entrepreneurship is more of a mindset, than a methodology. Again, going back to the past, if you and I wanted to start a business in 1980 – whatever business we wanted to start – it took a lot of work, took investment. There was a whole process that got involved in starting the business.

Today, two kids can be in a research lab at Stanford and have an idea on how to do search, buy a couple of computers, connect to the internet, do some coding and all of a sudden you have a company like Google.

Or, a kid can be in his dorm room, think up a better way to create a social network of people as opposed to looking people up in a static library and you can create Facebook.

Today, any three kids can put together a business instantaneously with a laptop. They can use Google Apps to communicate with each other… they can go to Amazon and buy some server space… they can code a new program… they can buy a website domain and they are up and running in 10 minutes. So, this idea of entrepreneurship is more of a mindset.

When I talk to students, I don’t ask them what they want to be when they grow up (we were part of a generation where people asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up). Instead, I ask students what problem they want to solve. What problem spins in their head? What problem are they interested in? And then I ask them what are the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to solve that problem. So that’s a different mindset than asking someone where they want to work in the future. It’s more about what is the problem that you want to solve and what’s going to be your angle on solving it? And that’s the entrepreneur mindset that we need.

6. Learnnovators: Any final thoughts that you would like to share with our readers, Jaime?

Jaime: Yeah… I don’t think that there has been a more exciting time in the history of education in the last 100 years. The educational systems that we created in 1900s reflected the economy that we were building then. We were moving from an agricultural and farming economy to an industrial and manufacturing economy. So when you were working on a farm and all of a sudden new jobs came up that you wanted to go work in, all you had to do is to put down your pitchfork and go work in a factory. The skills were transferable. Today you can’t take someone who is uneducated, who doesn’t have a skillset and make him the creative director of a company. Education is the critical component to that.

So what we need to do is to create an education system that reflects the new economy. I think it’s a very exciting time in education because we can start from scratch. We can think about what that learning model looks like for the future and create it. So that to me is really, really exciting!

The role of technology in all this, the fact that we are able to access all the world’s information, is sometimes under appreciated. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching TV any given day, I can take a class, I can read a book, I can do research, I can read a medical journal, I can do whatever I want and that is unbelievable. So having access to that is the difference between today and what life was like a hundred years ago. And I think that has a huge impact. We are preparing kids for jobs that don’t exist. We are preparing kids to solve problems that are going to be very complex. We need an education system that reflects that and that’s what I’m excited aboutLearnnovators: Thank you so much for sharing your valuable insights and experiences, Jaime. It was wonderful interacting with you. We wish you the very best!

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