Reflections on Digital Inequality, Live from ISTE 2013

June 26, 2013

This week, most of our portfolio is in San Antonio for the largest edtech conference of the year, ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). Not surprisingly, ISTE 2013 is expected to be the biggest ever, attracting educators eager to learn about the latest tools, platforms and practices making their way into our nation’s classrooms. Tech titans Google, Apple, Samsung, News Corp. and Microsoft will share their new initiatives while startups will enjoy ISTE’s newfound focus on early stage innovations including a first ever “startup pavilion,” and pitch competitions with edu-celebrity judges.

Walking the aisles at ISTE reminds me of the Charles Gibson’s quote, “the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed.” Like many of you, I’m drawn to edtech for it’s potential to open up access and increase opportunity for kids previously isolated by social class, geography or other challenges. Last week, in a reflective NYT op/ed the Ford Foundation’s outgoing president Luis Ubinas reminded us how important it is that we all work to ensure more equitable access to the digital world.

Since the mid-1990s, a generation of American children has passed through our schools with substandard access to the online world. This is how an information underclass begins to take root — a disturbing contribution to our era of inequality, when jobs and economic opportunity flow to those with the best-honed digital skills.

– Ubinas, Luis

“Our Schools, Cut Off From the Web.” 
New York Times 16, Jun. 2013

Seed Fund exists for this very reason – to be on the lookout for that unequal distribution of the future and to make sure those companies that are filling those gaps and making high-quality content broadly available, have the capital they need to get to market so that all kids can have access to the future, right now.