Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently dipped into the coffers of bgc3—his personal office, think tank, and incubation engine—to make a multimillion-dollar investment in Graphite, a new venture from the San Francisco-based nonprofit Common Sense Media that aims to provide teachers with easy-to-search, Consumer Reports-style peer reviews of ed-tech products. In conjunction with Graphite’s launch, Gates offered to respond via email to some questions from Education Week and our Twitter followers.
While downplaying the overall capacity of philanthropy to impact public education systems, Gates said he hopes his investment in Graphite can help spur a “virtuous cycle” between ed-tech entrepreneurs and teachers. He wrote that he and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are striving to do a better job of listening and responding to the needs of classroom teachers. (The Gates Foundation provides grant support for coverage of the education industry and K-12 innovation in Education Week and on edweek.org.)
Gates also stressed that while he’s a big believer in technology, “something magical” happens with effective face-to-face classroom teaching that “can’t be replaced by a strictly online experience.” <Read the interview.>