Vint Cerf, Vice President
& Chief Internet Evangelist, Google

When one of my colleagues at Google was growing up in India, his school had four textbooks for an entire class. At exam time, they would queue up outside the library, waiting for a classmate to return a textbook so the next student could check it out.

Now, we’re able to give each child in that same school all the information contained in the Web via an Internet-connected device that is simple, manageable, secure and affordable.

Significant possibilities arise, especially in the developing world, when countries decide to put education online.

For example, last month Malaysia announced it would be providing lightweight laptops to primary and secondary schools nationwide, and adopted free Web-based email, calendar and documents for 10 million students, teachers and parents.

The Internet and the World Wide Web are central parts of Malaysia’s national plan to reform its educational system, and that’s what makes it of interest to educators and governments worldwide.

Significant possibilities arise, especially in the developing world, when countries decide to put education online. The bottom line is that providing Web-based services to students and educators enables access to information and makes it possible for everyone — regardless of financial resources, location or influence — to become educated.

Governments will need to expand national infrastructure so students in densely packed urban areas and remote rural villages alike can get online.  Once they are online, there’s no limit to what students can do with the vast amount of information available to them — and beyond that, how they’ll collaborate with and learn from one another.

Imagine students in Malaysia working with students around the world on a weather project. They can conduct virtual experiments, work simultaneously to update data in a spreadsheet or document, and create a shared final presentation.

Once they are online, there’s no limit to what students can do with the vast amount of information available to them — and beyond that, how they’ll collaborate with and learn from one another.

When I was teaching at Stanford in the 1970s, my classes were broadcast around the San Francisco Bay Area. We also sent videotapes of lectures to other places further afield. Now with the Web, teachers can record their lectures, upload them, and students anywhere can watch them as many times as they want.

We should be excited about bringing the Web to the classroom. The technology is there, and if we work together, we can bring the Web to everyone.

Excerpted from an article, 10x for Education in the Developing World, by Vint Cerf.