The Challenge and Promise of “Generation I”

NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 1999 — Just as television was the defining medium for the “baby boom” generation, the Internet will be ubiquitous for children born in the 1990’s. However, the Internet’s impact on “Generation I” will be far more dramatic — it will change the way these children will learn, communicate and work.

In a speech at the New York Institute of Technology, Microsoft Chairman and CEO Bill Gates outlined the unique challenges facing this generation, issuing a call to action for teachers to ensure that education keeps pace with technological advances. “The Internet will change education as fundamentally as it changed with printed books,” he said. “We have a responsibility to make sure every teacher is able to use this technology to help ‘Generation I’ learn.”

Gates noted how today’s kids will use technology to enroll in classes, conduct research, complete assignments, sign up for college and start a career. They will be able to access virtually any information they need any time, any place and from any device, including the PC, Web-enabled televisions or hand-held devices. By using this technology to the fullest, Gates said, educators can create efficient, dynamic, accountable and individualized learning environments to meet the needs of all students.

The Internet is already becoming a critical part of education in the United States. Ninety percent of public schools currently have some form of Internet access, and 54 percent of schools say their teachers use the Internet for instructional purposes. Over 16 million kids are online today, and by 2002 nearly 40 percent of children aged 7 to 12 are expected to have some form of Internet access at home or school.

But despite all of this promise, a U.S. Department of Education study showed that only 20 percent of America’s teachers feel prepared to teach in a modern classroom with technology. Gates explained that Microsoft, as a technology leader, has a responsibility to ensure that every teacher has the resources they need to make the most of technology in the classroom. Gates outlined Microsoft’s commitment to educating “Generation I” through a number of initiatives:

  • Content and Learning: Through technology training programs such as the Classroom Teacher Network and — as well as rich learning resources such as the newly-released Encarta Africana 2000 encyclopedia — Microsoft is working with teachers, educational organizations, community groups and businesses to make learning tools and educational content widely available. The Microsoft Lesson Connection, a collaboration with Tudor Publishing and Classroom Connect, gives teachers and curriculum administrators the ability to search thousands of lesson plans on the Internet to find those that meet their curriculum needs.

  • Access . As a technology leader, Microsoft has a responsibility to help make technology accessible for all children. Through Connected Learning Community grants, technology support for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and other initiatives, Microsoft has donated a total of $23 million to community programs aimed at supporting youth and education.

  • Safety & Security. Gates noted that parents, mentors and educators share the responsibility for making the Internet a safe place for kids. Microsoft is working with others in the technology industry to provide them with the tools to make informed decisions and stay involved in their children’s Internet experiences. The company’s participation in the Stay Safe Online initiative and the Platform for Internet Content Selection — as well as its SafeKids Web site — reflects this commitment to maintaining a safe and secure environment on the Internet.

Following Gates’ remarks, he received the New York Institute of Technology’s prestigious President’s Medal Leadership Award, an annual award given to individuals who make an outstanding contribution to the fields of education and technology. “Through his innovative genius, competitive drive and commitment to providing access to information for all mankind, [Gates] has changed the way our nation and world thinks, works and acts each day,” said NYIT President Matthew Schure, Ph.D.

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