Bill Gates on Education

Bill Gates shared his second annual letter.  In it he highlights the foundation’s key initiatives – most of it focusing on poverty and health issues.  However, he does discuss public education, emphasizing the need for consistent and innovative teacher evaluation practices as well as the role open source digital content will and should play in the future of education.  Interestingly, he states, “We need to bring together the video and interactive pieces for K-12 and college courses.  We should focus on having at least one great course online for each subject rather than lots of mediocre courses.”  He also highlights the need for an easy way to find the best material that fits teachers’ objectives.  As educators, we know how overwhelming it can be to do an internet search for a topic and get thousands of resources.  He states, “We need a simple way of taking all of the education pieces and organizing them and then rating them in context.”  He also references Waiting for Superman, a documentary that tells the story of several kids trying to get into schools with high-quality teaching.  Gates appears in the film.  Lots of ideas that resonate with what teachers experience in the classroom…

Also, his GatesNotes is a wonderful resource – inspiring and refreshing.  Essentially, the website offers insight into what he is reading, learning, thinking about… not only is the design of the website refreshing (clean, simple, bite-size information with links to more information, etc.) but the content is rich and inspiring, which includes his opinions and perspectives.  Some educational resources/groups mentioned:  KIPP as education reform, The Teaching Company as a resource for high-quality lectures via audio download or DVD.