I'm just returning from a conference hosted by the National Center for Technology Innovation. A major part of this government group's charter is to foster assistive and universal technologies to make learning accessible to all students. I was invited to moderate a panel titled Commercialization: From Research to Market Reality. Hopefully, the panel was valuable to the audience, but I much more enjoyed being a participant in some of the other sessions. Jim Fruchterman, the morning keynote, was engaging and inspiring. Fruchterman recounted his journey from rocket scientist to entrepreneur with two successful OCR (optical character recognition) companies to founder of Benetech, a social focused technology nonprofit. He is a dynamic advocate for the power of technology to tackle critical social problems around the world. And he has certainly put his money where is mouth is. Good stuff.
And Yong Zhao, from Michigan State, has to be the most entertaining academic researcher I've ever heard. His insights and analogies were wonderful, including his call to measure the success of faith-based initiatives by measuring how many members of the religious group ended up in heaven or hell. His presentation echoed the demand from many other speakers for better measures of the range of educational and life outcomes we hope for our students.