April 29th, 2008
YottaByte Group: The future for Oregon tech education
When I first sat down with Derek Brandow and Jason Gallic of Eugene-based (but hopefully making the move to Portland) YottaByte Group, I didn’t know quite what to expect. And by the time we said our good-byes, I was shaking my head in disbelief.
And since that time I’ve been struggling to get this post written. Struggling because of that—literally jaw-dropping—disbelief.
Disbelief that something so obviously right, necessary, and critical for our community—and the future of our communities—hasn’t already been done. Disbelief that these guys would have any difficulty finding funding for something that promises to change the future of technology in Oregon and, likely, the rest of the world. Disbelief that educators everywhere wouldn’t be clamoring for this model to help students.
To put it bluntly, the conversation was quite the “Well… duh!” moment for me. Why wouldn’t everyone be behind this thing? Why aren’t we doing this already?
So what’s this exceedingly obvious—yet heretofore untapped—idea that makes YotttaByte such a winner in my book?
Well, to put it simply, they’re rethinking the educational system—especially as it relates to innovation and technology—in today’s K-12 environment:
The current model for both public and private schools has not changed significantly in the last 100 years. The longevity of that model is a testament to the greatness of its 20th century design. However, the design is beginning to crumble….
The time is now to create the schools we are going to need for our children to thrive (not merely survive) in the 21st century.
And the YottaByte team has a compelling vision for how this might occur.
From my admittedly ignorant standpoint, I see it falling somewhere between the concept of alternative schools and the traditional gifted and talented programs.
Like an art student focusing on painting or a musical student focusing on an instrument, YottaByte students would work in an environment that allows them to focus on technology and innovation.
Once up and running, YottaByte promises to create intensive and collaborative schools that help these students exercise their artistic talent—in this case an artistic talent that manifests itself as problem solving and technical discovery—with students around the world.
In their own words, YottaByte will be:
Preparing children for collaboration, innovation, and contribution in a global marketplace.
Hearing them tell it, it’s a compelling vision for how technology could—and arguably should—be approached if today’s students are to get the kind of technical grounding they’re going to need to manage the sheer bulk of digital information and power at their feet. And to wring every last ounce of potential out of the collaborative technologies we have at our disposal. To get the right people fixing the problems. Not just the people who happen to be there.
It’s a pretty powerful concept, and one in whose Kool-Aid I have deeply imbibed. Because what YottaByte is proposing is not only a brilliant idea, it’s just the right thing to do.
I’m looking forward to continuing my coverage of YottaByte’s progress as they continue pitching this story and building out their proof-of-concept schools.
It’s going to be an interesting ride.
For more information on the YottaByte Group and their vision for technology education, visit YottaByte Group.