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Live from Summit 2013: Closing Plenary

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, addressed the topic of Learning in 2028 to launch the final plenary of today’s Summit. Reflecting on the words of Robert Frost, Randi posed the idea that the education sector needs to “take the road less taken” and prepare “children for the challenges and opportunities of the mid-21st century… Let’s organize our public schools as centers of community… not in 2028, but starting today.”

Weingarten proposed increasing the use of project based learning – having students apply what they’ve learned to real-life challenges, developing habits of the mind that are relevant for today’s world. 

Ted Mitchell returned to the stage to introduce a panel comprised of board member and NewSchools Venture Fund co-founder John Doerr, Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera and Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga.

“I think the ability for anyone to be connected to a great education can change the world,” said Ng. Ng made the case that online, digital learning allows students to have more interaction time in the classroom. To combat the criticism that online learning could replace a teacher, he asked the audience to consider their most influential teacher – and realize that no machine could ever take their place. 

Ng announced to the audience that starting today, Coursera is partnering with teacher preparation organizations to provide professional development (PD) resources. He noted that 28 new PD courses will be taught by seven new partners.

Pincus also had a special announcement for the crowd today: Zynga’s nonprofit, Zynga.org, is partnering with NewSchools Venture Fund, and is investing $1 million in a new program to help technology startups build games to help children learn.

“Everybody at Zynga is passionate about taking what we’re doing… and having positive world impact,” said Pincus. “We’re creating an incubator to accelerate the innovation in education games both inside and outside of schools.”

Notably, the Wall Street Journal wrote about Pincus’s announcement this afternoon. Take a read, here.

These announcements brought a great close to a busy day filled with numerous engaging speakers and presenters. Thank you for following our live blogging from Summit 2013! 

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