The Center of Attention

On May 5, 2013, a new bison was born at Jackson Fork Ranch. I have no doubt that this “little” calf is going to be the center of attention at Jackson Fork Lodge this summer.

Until the calf gets dirty, it’s still a relatively pristine white, and it will stay that way until the dust and dirt of the prairie turns it a toasty light brown. Legend has it that there were not any white bison on the Great Plains prior to 1800 but you’ll need to come to the Lodge to hear this fascinating story! At 75 pounds, it has some growing to do; bulls typically reach 1,000 pounds or more by adulthood.

What’s the gender? We don’t yet know, as we must keep our distance for now! (Best not to cross a momma bison.)

The Jackson Fork Ranch's New Baby Bison

After The Dream Phase

Over the years, I’ve observed that my ideas usually follow a progression that starts with what I call the “dream phase.” That’s the time I think about a new idea, talk about it with people I respect, and give it enough time and oxygen to develop.

After the Dream Phase | Opportunity Education FoundationA lot of my ideas never get out of the dream phase; after rolling them around in my head, I realize the idea isn’t all that compelling or won’t work for some reason. But when an idea survives the dream phase and starts to become a reality, it’s very exciting for me.

Over the past few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about how technology is remaking education and what that means for Opportunity Education Foundation and its mission. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my time because I believe education will be the catalyst for breaking the cycle of poverty in both developing nations and the poorest parts of the United States. And as I’ve thought about all this, I’ve been dreaming about developing a digital curriculum, designed for a tablet computer, that Opportunity Education Foundation could give away to children in the areas of greatest need.

Well, I am very excited these days because Opportunity Education Foundation’s tablet project is moving from the dream phase to the reality phase. We’re starting in Tanzania with a 1,000-kid pilot program that will launch in January 2014. Based on what we learn from this relatively small test, we will expand the program. Over time, I hope it will reach children in all the countries where the Foundation operates, and maybe further.

After the Dream Phase | Opportunity Education FoundationThe Foundation’s tablet team just got back from 10 days in Tanzania, where they tested an early version of the Opportunity Tablet. The idea was to see how the kids interacted with the hardware and software, and then to improve that experience before the pilot begins in January.

These are kids who had never before seen a tablet computer and, in most cases, never seen a smart phone. But they were quick to figure out the tablet interface and put it to work right away — something that was truly amazing to see.

There is still much to learn, but I am excited that we’ve taken this first step.