ASU Hosts Education Innovation Summit

April 23, 2014

(Photo by Steve Shadley - KJZZ)
World Bank Institute Vice President For Change Sanjay Pradhan speaks at ASU's Education Innovation Summit. He said education plays a fundamental role in wiping out world poverty.

Digital technology and social media are shaping the future of education. That’s the theme of a global summit in Phoenix this week. The conference allows start-up companies to pitch their cyber-based teaching tools to potential investors.

This is the fifth year ASU has held its innovation summit in the Valley. In a room full of computer geeks and dot-com business owners at the Phoenician Resort, ASU President Michael Crow talked about what’s hot in education.

“Arizona’s role is that we are one of these places in the United States where high-speed innovation is still possible,” Crow said.

He said everyone here is eager to share ideas about creating what he calls a new education model.

“A model built around an individualized learner. A model built around a student-centric approach to education as opposed to a teacher-centric or faculty-centric approach, all of those things are what we are talking about,” Crow said.

He said smartphone apps and online classrooms are helping teachers and students communicate better and allow schools to create customized lesson plans for each student. 

Joseph Connor is with ASU and he’s promoting his new internet reading program. Connor moved from Florida to Phoenix to launch his service because he said there’s a need for new approaches to education here.

“Arizona is just a prime location because of the need. It’s probably the lowest level in the country in terms of third grade reading rates,” said Connor.

He said his program is available in Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania,  but he wants to expand it to ten more states next year.  First he needs to find investors, and that’s not always easy.

"The real issue we have in Arizona is just that depth of venture capital availability,” Connor said.

But Connor’s pitch to investors at the innovation summit has paid off.  He said his company has secured a contract with an Australian firm that specializes in e-learning.