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ICF Institute Symposium Addresses Economic and Educational Challenges in a Knowledge Economy

What's New, 2013-10-23

Global technology experts, government officials, educators, business leaders, and innovators gathered at Walsh University on October 22 to present an optimistic and visionary overview of how technology can be harnessed to address the economic, social and educational challenges of the new century.

The program, "Connecting By Design: Leveraging Technology to Close the Gaps" treated over 200 professionals from local and statewide business, community and educational organizations to a series of thought-provoking presentations all focused on how to use the power of broadband internet access and collaboration to meet the most pressing issues of our times. Former Stark County Commissioner Dr. Pete Ferguson was in attendance at the conference. "It was one of the finest days I have spent in Canton. The message of working together to serve people better was so inspiring, I thought it was great."

Another key topic of concern was how to apply technology to make a positive impact on global education. For keynote speaker Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of DataWind, allowing all of the world's children the opportunity to learn was the reason for the development of the world's cheapest tablet computer, which Forbes magazine says "has the potential to revolutionize educational access in the developing world."

In his remarks, Singh notes that he's a "classroom revolutionary," and described how he is not interested in creating the iPad killer, but, says Tuli, "I care about the 3 billion people who can afford this device."

Tuli described how throughout the developing world the quality of education deteriorates in proportion to the distance from metropolitan cities with Internet access. Because access to information is part of the knowledge economy, it's a critical part of equipping students with 21st Century skills. Those with these skills will grow to adults who will transform the economy, create jobs, solve problems and increase the quality of life in their communities.

A native of India, Tuli had an epiphany when he watched a video channel showing Indian teachers in rural and impoverished areas who could not answer simple questions, or were caught teaching students incorrect things. "This was not only sad and embarrassing, but more importantly, it showed me that exponentially millions of kids were getting a poor education," said Tuli, "Electricity and lack of networks is not the problem. This is not the reason for the gap. Affordability matters."

He believes that in the importance of Internet access as a way to improve education."It transforms the teacher from orator to coach," said Tuli. "Educate kids by connecting them to the world and they will find the solution to the local problems."

The issues addressed by the ICF event's influential thought leaders were deemed important enough by North Canton's mayor and city council that they even rescheduled their monthly meeting so they could attend. According to Walsh University president Richard Jusseaume, "The conference supports our mission of service with an international perspective, and to prepare our students and community with 21st century skills to succeed in a knowledge economy."