Technology will be vital in transforming the education ecosystem over the next decade, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the company’s Young Innovators Summit in New Delhi on Wednesday.
In conversation with Microsoft president Anant Maheshwari, Nadella, who is on a three-day visit to the country, spoke about how students today have the technological prowess to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.
“We need to reformulate the relationship between technology and learning. It is very interesting to witness the way young innovators think today. What excited and inspired me from my meetings with students was the quality of their ideas, the scope of their ambition, deep passion and deep empathy turning into action. This is truly transformative, and is how societies and economies move forward," Nadella said.
The summit, which saw participation from over 250 students and educators, featured examples of technology-powered innovation from students. Students Pratik Mohapatra, Ishlok Vashistha and Namya Joshi used technology to solve social, environmental and health challenges.
One of the three winning ideas at the 2019 Microsoft AI for Good Idea Challenge was 14-year-old Mohapatra’s, who built a set of machine learning algorithms for an app called OrganSecure to match organ donors with recipients. The artificial intelligence-powered app provides real-time updates to people in need of a transplant.
Vashistha, along with fellow students Aakash Bhadana, Vasu Kaushik, Dipesh Narwat and Bharat Sundal, from the Manav Rachna Institute of Research and Studies in Faridabad, came up with Caeli, a smart anti-pollution face mask and portable nebuliser that helps people with breathing issues such as asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases.
To make learning fun, 13-year-old Joshi from Sat Paul Mittal School introduced her teachers and fellow classmates to Minecraft: Education Edition, a special edition of the game customised for the classroom environment. She has trained more than 100 teachers across Vietnam, India, Hungary and Finland to help them initiate Minecraft into their classrooms.
“If a child does not like reading books, for example, you can make them in Minecraft and get the child interested,” she said.
Ending the event on a light note, Nadella shared some personal quirks as part of Maheshwari’s rapid-fire quiz. Some takeaways from that: Nadella’s favourite subject is history and he wishes he had the superpower to read all the books he owns. When asked to choose between cricketers Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar, Nadella said, “Sachin yesterday and Kohli today”.