Dr. Milton Chen is senior fellow and executive director emeritus at The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF), a non-profit operating foundation in the San Francisco Bay Area that utilizes its multimedia website Edutopia.org and documentary films to communicate a new vision for 21st-century schools. He served as executive director of GLEF for 12 years. He was the founding director of the KQED Center for Education (PBS) in San Francisco; a director of research at Sesame Workshop, in New York, working on Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and 3-2-1 Contact; and an assistant professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Chen lives in San Francisco with his wife, Dr. Ruth Cox, faculty liaison for academic technology at San Francisco State University.
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Interview with Dr. Milton Chen:
What can we expect from your closing Keynote?
I’ll talk about the “edges of innovation” changing schools in the U. S. and around the world, edges that are moving to the center to create the 21st C. school system. These edges include changing our thinking about teaching and learning; changing curriculum and assessment; technology continuing to show better, cheaper, and faster ways for learning; shifts in learning time and places; teachers creating co-teaching teams with other teachers and experts; and digital youth as the largest edge for change. I really believe this is the decade in which we will make much swifter progress than we have in the past 20 years, as our thinking and the technologies have advanced.
Why do you believe changing schools in the U.S. and around the world is so important?
Every nation is only as good as its school system. Given the shifting global forces in the economy, employment, and security, it’s imperative that we build a new kind of school system, very different from schools of the past. In the U. S., we have the right conditions as a democracy and our culture of freedom and independence to create these schools but we must emphasize and create more learning time for our youth.
Can you share a personal experience regarding this important topic?
I’ve been on the road for the past four months with my new book, Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in our Schools. I’ve spoken to teachers, principals and school board members in Florida, Arizona, Kansas, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, California, Canada and Mexico City. There is a new energy and enthusiasm to make these changes, as difficult as they may be, in an environment of budget cuts. Something clicked in during 2010, a critical mass for change, which is why I like to say 2010 was the first year of the 21st Century for education.