Education in the 2013 SOTU

Education was a major theme in President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address. From K-12 through higher education, he laid out the ways in which the world has changed, how our current system is failing students in many ways, and what he proposes to do about it. A few of the key points he made:

  • Only 30% of kids in the US are enrolled in a high-quality pre-school; it should be universally available
  • Between now and 2020, our economy will need millions of new jobs in science and engineering
  • By 2020, nearly 2 out of every 3 jobs will require training beyond high school
  • More than 50% of the 30 fastest growing occupations require post-secondary education
  • Federal aid to colleges should be determined by a combination of affordability and value

The President stopped short of making any explicit reference to the current revolution in educational technologies, and how those might play a role in the changes to come. It seems edtech might help address these problems in a few ways:

  1. Access: Resources like the Khan Academy and MOOCs from Udacity and Coursera provide millions of students with essentially free access to quality educational content and support (to perhaps a lesser degree)
  2. STEM skills: A lot of the MOOCs currently available target the development of STEM knowledge and skills, which ties directly into job growth that we’ll be seeing in these areas.
  3. Quality and affordability: One of the goals of many online learning efforts is to reduce cost, both for students who want access, and for schools trying to deliver the highest quality content. People are still arguing about the cost equation, and how it will actually pan out, but it’s an area of opportunity.

Edtech is definitely going to play an important role in the coming years. Hopefully we’ll start to see the President and other policymakers start to talk more explicitly about how technologies can help address some of the challenges we face.

SOTU Enhanced version: Education infographics

In case you missed the back-channel that was available during the State of the Union, a series of slides with infographics were presented in parallel with the President’s speech. I pulled together a PDF of the SOTU education slides, and also provide them below for reference. You can also view the enhanced SOTU speech in its entirety on the White House site. You can also find all of the infographics from the enhanced presentation on Slideshare.