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Monday, September 23, 2013 - 12:17pm

Collaboration Is The Future

Some of the state's -- and the nation's -- top thinkers in education and innovation were in Atlanta Monday to discuss ways the city and the state can improve schools, keep top talent and prepare for the future. The occasion was the inaugural Colab Summit.

The organizers of the first-ever Colab Summit aim to tackle pressing issues through collaboration.

That is, they want the top thinkers to collaborate and find solutions for Atlanta and Georgia.

Georgia Tech’s president, Bud Peterson, was one local voice on how innovation and education are intersecting.

He says indeed, innovation is driving many of the new or top initiatives at Georgia Tech.

For example, the university is focusing on turning its research into products and services. And it’s teaching entrepreneurship to all students. And he says the university will soon offer something called an X degree.

“A degree where students can actually design their own undergraduate degree, where they can come in and tell us what series of courses they want to put together,” he explained. “We think this will allow us to see ahead into the future.”

He says the degree will also respond to students’ increasing demand that the university prepare them better for careers.

Many of the speakers who addressed education say the way schools approach education has to change because the status quo isn’t working.

Bill Strickland started a school for low-income kids in Pittsburgh. It has an art gallery, a gourmet lunch room and a recording studio. The concept has spread to other cities, and Strickland has new sites in mind, including Atlanta. He says his model works because the teachers treat the students with respect.

“We built it to be beautiful because the worst thing about poverty is what it does to your spirit,” he said of the Pittsburgh school. “If you want to work with poor kids who are flunking out of public school and welfare moms who have no hope, you have to look like the solution, not the problem.”

Leadership Atlanta organized the summit at the Woodruff Arts Center. And officials say it may become an annual gathering.

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