Those of you who attended Journey in Washington, DC or tuned in to the event online from home may recall VIPKid Co-Founder and CEO Cindy Mi’s reflections on VIPKid’s commitment to social impact, from the Rural Education Project (REP) to VIPTeach:
“After starting REP, Jessie (Chen, Co-Founder of VIPKid) and I wanted to do more and show an even greater commitment to social impact work. This is why VIPKid seed-funded VIPTeach, a nonprofit that partners with like-minded organizations to elevate educators as drivers of innovation and equity in education. Yesterday, for the first time, VIPTeach convened senior business, non-profit, and government leaders for a discussion on how to use technology to empower educators and create greater social impact. We are so excited about the enthusiasm from potential partners, and we look forward to many more programs to come.”
As Cindy said, this indeed has been a big founding year for VIPTeach, and I’m excited to share more with the community about the dialogue we started with private and public sector leaders on how to maximize our social impact.
Hosted at the Meridian International Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting cross-cultural exchange and understanding, over 50 leaders gathered to learn more about plans for VIPTeach and to share their experiences and perspectives on the potential for technology to empower online educators to transform education.
VIPKid Co-Founder Jessie Chen welcomed guests and described the vision she and Cindy share for the charitable organization:
“As Cindy and I often discuss, our dream is to create a global online classroom to inspire and empower every child for the future. We’ve learned what teachers need in order to do what they do best — teaching, especially online teaching. This is why just about a year ago, we decided to start a US non-profit organization, to explore ways to go above and beyond to support educators, utilizing the power of technology.”
Moderator Wenchi Yu, VIPKid Head of Global Public Policy, and three education technology experts representing the private, NGO, and multilateral sectors, then led a conversation among the distinguished guests on the latest trends and most pressing issues facing teachers and their students. The topics were broad-ranging from the importance of building literacy skills to the opportunities and challenges associated with artificial intelligence to a “second digital divide” that concerns not only unequal access to technology, but inequitable opportunity to build the skills necessary to learn effectively from digital resources.
Kelli Campbell shared her perspective as President of International and University at Discovery Education, a global leader in standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms. When scaling a digital solution for students, Kelli emphasized the importance of the role of the teacher over any given technology. This idea was echoed by Richard Culatta, Chief Executive Officer of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), who agreed that technology is an “accelerator,” a means to an end. As CEO of ISTE, Richard leads a vast membership organization and community of global educators who believe in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation, and solve tough problems in education. Without an investment in teachers and their preparedness to leverage technology to help students learn, he added, we will not be accelerating towards the goals we wish to achieve.
As Senior Education and Technology Policy Specialist and Global Lead for Innovation in Education at the World Bank, Michael Trucano has advised over 50 countries on national education technology strategies and initiatives. He underscored the skills and competencies required of students to reap the educational benefits from digital tools and content, critically analyze the information they consume, and transform ubiquitous mobile devices from passive appendages to learning devices.
In spite of the challenges, the panelists were optimistic about what works in education and our collective abilities to implement effective solutions. Richard remarked, “We need to have the will, and the group of people in the room demonstrates the motivation that we need.” He continued that students on the VIPKid platform are not only learning English, but learning that accessing knowledge and expertise is boundless and global. “The future of education is understanding that there is no limit.”
VIPTeach aspires to remove barriers to limitless possibilities through education for educators and their students. To stay informed on the organization’s social impact work, visit VIPTeach.org. We know that the sky is the limit in education when teachers are empowered to be their very best – and we look forward to working with each of you on just that.