Tim Cook Opens Up About iPads in Classroom, Apple’s Part in ConnectED & Diversity on GMA [Watch]

Tim Cook Opens Up About iPads in Classroom, Apple’s Part in ConnectED & Diversity on GMA [Watch]

Apple CEO Tim Cook was a busy man on Monday.

Besides reassuring investors that Apple was solid in China during the morning’s stock market panic, he appeared on Good Morning America (albeit in a prerecorded segment) to discuss the digital divide, Apple’s contributions to President Barack Obama’s technology in education initiative, and diversity in Silicon Valley. Watch the clip below.
Monday’s GMA segment featuring Apple’s chief took place at Tuskegee Public School in Alabama, which is one among 114 other public schools throughout the nation that rang in the new year with some new additions to the classroom: Internet-connected iPads for every student and teacher.
As part of the “ConnectED” program, Apple pledged $100 million to supply iPads and some computers to those schools, selected in part because they’re in low-income neighborhoods and otherwise wouldn’t have 21st century technology in the classroom. Other companies, like Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have also pledged millions in contributions, including free wireless Internet service, free and discounted software, and other technology essentials.

The end goal for ConnectED, according to the White House, is for “99 percent of American students” to have access to next-generation Internet technologies in the classroom by 2018. Accomplishing this would go a long way towards finally closing the so-called “digital divide,” or the concern that underprivileged Americans too often are left behind in the digital revolution because of lack of access to — or simply a lack of the affordability of — 21st century technologies.
Cook: Digital Divide in Classrooms ‘Not Fair’
Speaking with GMA’s Robin Roberts as the classroom full of youngsters — immediately smitten with their iPads — created a broadcast news-style history report, Tim Cook emphasized that access to technology is now a vital part of public education.

“I think technology has to be a key part [of public education],” Cook said. “That’s why we’re here. Too many times today, kid are not given the right for a great public education. This isn’t right. It’s not fair.”
Cook noted that he has a personal connection to the initiative, saying, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without a great public education.” Cook became the CEO of Apple, currently the highest-valued company in history, in 2011.
The difference between getting a great public education when Cook was a kid, and now, is technology.
“Kids today, they’re born in a digital world,” remarked Cook. “But too many kids, when it comes time for the 8 o’clock bell to ring, go into an analog world. It’s not engaging.”
On Diversity: It ‘Inspires Innovation’
Later, the conversation turned to diversity, a subject Apple and Silicon Valley as a whole have focused on since last year when a flood of transparency reports showed how few minorities and women make up the average technology company’s workforce. Apple’s most recent report, one year after putting measures in place to improve the demographic makeup of the company, showed a few signs of progress amidst a mostly unchanged bottom line.
Roberts asked Cook when the country would start to see more diversity at his company and elsewhere in Silicon Valley. In his typical reserved style, he responded, “It’s a really good question. There’s not a simple answer.”
Cook went on, “One is, there has to be more role models. I think technology in general has not done a great job of establishing role models. That’s changing. That’s critically important.”
Cook has notably taken a particularly thoughtful and forthright stance towards the halting progress his company has made in diversity, ending his recent open letter that accompanied Apple’s 2015 diversity report saying, “Some people will read this page and see our progress. Others will recognize how much farther we have to go. We see both.”
Speaking to Roberts, Cook went further.
“My fundamental belief is that inclusion and diversity inspires innovation,” Cook explained. “We make better products because we’re more diverse. Fast forward 10 – 20 years in the future: The best companies in the land will be the most diverse.”
Cook added, “It’s a world I dream of.”

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