At look at Lenovo's commitment to education, including its partnership with Intel and Microsoft to spearhead education thought leadership.
The word "innovation" is overused in the tech industry. We are bombarded with companies that promise improvements in design, capabilities or service. This is not to say that the progress organizations strive for is not creative or cutting-edge--technology is definitely moving forward, whether in response to changing landscapes and end user demand or in anticipation of new processes.
In technology, we can’t rely on the traditional definition of innovation. To do so is to accept a siloed and unrealistic vision of the future. Companies should not be considered innovative simply because they make a tool better or improve services. True innovation in this industry should be less myopic, the result of alliances across disciplines.
As a global conglomerate, Lenovo understands its micro impact of producing high-quality devices: Within the last eight months, it has released four unique, SMB-focused products that have no direct market competitor--ThinkCentreTiny and ThinkPads X230 Tablet, Twist and Helix. Creating new form factors that change the way people do business and making sure they are affordable to the masses is quite innovative. However, I am more impressed with the company’s understanding of its macro impact on our culture as illustrated in its commitment to education.
Changing the Education Landscape
Education is in the midst of its greatest transformation in decades. According to a national survey of K-12 teachers conducted in 2012 by PBS LearningMedia at the Florida Education Technology Conference (FETC), 91 percent of teachers reported having access to computers in their classrooms, but only one in five (22 percent) said they have the right level of technology. This proves adoption of technology to engage student learning, but more pointedly, it points to a lack of strategy. To fully appreciate companies such as Lenovo and their impact on education, we first must discuss technology in education.
The role of technology in the field of education is four-fold: it is included as a part of the curriculum, as an instructional delivery system, as a means of aiding instruction and as a tool to enhance the entire learning process. Thanks to technology, educational pedagogy has shifted—it has gone from passive and reactive to interactive and aggressive. The lecture model of teaching, which rewards students who problem solve by rote, is quickly being replaced by more interactive teaching methods that involve digital savvy and resourcefulness and demand true understanding of concepts. Standardizing school adoption, however, is more complex.
The Power of Partnership
To spearhead education thought leadership, Lenovo has been partnering with Intel and Microsoft. Most recently, the companies presented at the New York Department of Education (NYDOE) as part of the “Prepare Them for the Next Level” event. The NYDOE is the largest school system in the United States, with more than 1.1 million students taught in more than 1,700 schools. The purpose of this summit was to help educators access the best tools and communities to support students in their learning.
By collaborating, these technology juggernauts recognize the limitations of viewing their respective businesses, whether hardware or software-based, as producing tools. Collaboration has elevated collective thinking: Born out of gaps in the market identified by their respective sales teams, these companies now have a coordinated education product portfolio with strategically placed programs, messaging and enablement for one fully integrated education solution.
The solution presents took a three-pronged approach to address community support and best practices, academic resource sharing, and outreach:
- Intel’s senior trainers discussed professional development and its recently launched Engage Community, a virtual teacher forum housed on the Intel website to enhance personal growth and educator collaboration and share resources. The site encourages shared ideas, strategies, resources and activities.
- Microsoft’s Tony Franklin from Microsoft’s Shape the Future program discussed the company’s education strategy and provided access to the more than 100 free education plug-ins including Learning Essentials for Office, the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Program and the Channel 9 Learning Center, with tools to teach students to program C#, Visual Studio, etc.
- Lenovo’s Sam Morris, Education Solutions manager, presented two sessions: "Education Transformation" and "Devices for 21st Century Teaching and Learning." Lenovo’s first session explored ways that schools can empower students to use technology tools that are critical to the learning environments. The latter session illustrated Lenovo’s commitment to supporting schools by increasing the dialogue with educators, IT teams and educational leaders through pilot programs and future partnerships.
True innovation is not a siloed tactical output, it is the result of strategic collaboration across disciplinary expertise to produce solutions that benefit communities, address changing pedagogies and ameliorate the implementation process. In essence, to be truly innovative is to continually strive to be better.
Annabelle Thuan is North American Channel Marketing Manager at Lenovo. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of Lenovo’s guest blogs here.