I would love to be a fly on the wall when a select group of teachers and students return to their classrooms in underserved areas of China this month
Instead of going back to traditional tools such as chalkboards, books, papers and pencils, they’ll be walking into cutting-edge, 21st century classrooms, each equipped with an electronic smartboard featuring a large LCD touchscreen, Internet connectivity and access to a wide variety of digital and interactive educational content.
Teachers will also be given 3G/4G-enabled tablets, which they will use to interact with the smartboards and access an online learning resource platform and a classroom management system. In the spring, a select group of students will also receive devices, which they will use to watch class videos, access reference materials, communicate with their classmates and teachers, and prepare for tests.
These exciting changes are all part of the “Qualcomm 21st Century Classroom” program, the newest collaboration between Qualcomm Wireless Reach and China Children and Teenagers Fund.
This important mobile broadband initiative supports the Chinese government’s use of information and communications technologies (ICT) to modernize education and reduce poverty.
The launch of the program marks a major milestone in Qualcomm’s work in China, and the timing of this announcement also came just before President Xi’s visit to the United States. I mention this because China’s leadership, as well as companies like Qualcomm are actively working to deepen collaboration through investment and partnership in China and the U.S. Our work with the All China Women’s Federation, China Children & Teenagers’ Fund and the Ministry of Commerce is just one example of this sort of commitment.
Specifically, our program supports the development of a 21st century learning environment in select classrooms at Guang’An Second Middle School in Guang’An District and at Meng Ya Primary School and Wen Xing Middle School in Yilong County. All three schools are located in government-designated, poverty-stricken areas in Sichuan Province. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce Poverty Alleviation Office and China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment assisted in the selection of these schools.
Our program leaves no stone unturned. Teachers and students will receive training to enhance their ICT knowledge and to improve teaching and learning outcomes. We have a monitoring and evaluation program in place and hope to share the lessons learned from this model.
We’re starting small but expect the program to ultimately benefit approximately 200 teachers and 4,000 students ages 7 to 15 in Sichuan Province.
As the project manager for this initiative, I was especially proud that our CEO, Steve Mollenkopf, announced this project in Beijing last month, during a ceremony with the presence of representatives from the two counties where the program will be implemented—the People’s Government of Guang’An District, Guang’An City and the People’s Government of Yilong County, Nanchong City.
Education is a key driver for economic growth and prosperity. Working for Qualcomm, I frequently see how mobile devices are the great equalizer in education, bringing high-quality, digital and interactive content to all students, regardless of where they live or their family’s income.
I look forward to seeing our innovative education program grow and hope it will serve as a model for other organizations to follow. I think it has enormous potential to help bridge China’s digital divide and contribute to the nation’s socioeconomic growth.