A Perspective on the Human Genome Project and Access to Education Technology

A Perspective on the Human Genome Project and Access to Education Technology

23rd January 2017


Jim McVety
VP Strategic Partnerships

Mark Middendorp
Senior Advisor, International

Upon the launch of the Human Genome Project in 1990, experts estimated that it would take 15 years figure out how 3 billion genes that make up one human genome maps to its physical presence and purpose. The cost was estimated to run $6 billion USD. After the first 7 years, only 1 percent of the project was completed and experts labeled the project a failure, pointing out that it would take an additional 700 years to complete the project. Salem Ismail, author of Exponential Organizations, has addressed this issue in great detail.

Thankfully, experts can be wrong from time-to-time...the project was completed 696 years ahead of schedule. And the reason is that information is doubling every two years. This unexpectedly rapid pace of information expansion allowed us to accomplish tasks in years that were expected to take centuries. This is known as the “Knowledge Doubling Curve.”

Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.

The takeaways from this narrative are as relevant to education as they are fascinating to ponder. As much as the experts working on the Human Genome Project were able to leverage the rapid expanse of available information, educators are now leveraging the rapid adoption of new technologies. And the pace of change is almost as staggering to education as it was to those researchers.


The implications from this rise of technology are important, as are the questions that such change can stimulate:

  • How do we prepare our students that are going through the stages from early childhood to adolescence to careers for this unprecedented change?
  • How does technology change the way education is conducted by the teachers and experienced by students?
  • How do organizations for learning - schools, universities, governments - anticipate the changing needs of teachers and students?
  • Who will bear the burden of organizing the applications, cloud management platforms, digital files, information systems, and devices?
  • What do ministries of education need to plan for as they help diverse communities prepare for great change?

Interestingly, these kinds of questions are being asked by educational leaders, instructional designers, and curriculum developers from around the world. For all the cultural, socioeconomic, and political differences that we see throughout the world, the consistency and similarity of these questions reveals a simple, common truth. We are all keenly engaged in the pursuit of improving education.

In this shared pursuit we find a common set of challenges in the questions outlined above. While the unique needs of countries and communities will ultimately drive the specific applications, resources, and devices being used in the classroom, one thing will always remain the same...the need for safe, secure, and easy access to the digital learning resources that teacher and students need to be successful.

Without access, teachers will be unable to fully leverage new learning resources, including online professional development, peer-to-peer support, and an ever-growing wealth of curriculum materials.

Without access, students will be unable to find and engage with learning materials that meet their specific needs.

And, without access management, schools, ministries, and the organizations that support teaching and learning will be unable to fulfill on their commitment to ensure that the students of today are prepared for the world of tomorrow.

At ClassLink our work centers on the notion that access is a fundamental and constant need, no matter the pace of change or its complexity. Having worked with communities of all sizes, and having seen technology utilized in all forms, we have witnessed the powerful impact that digital learning environments can have on student outcomes.

For this reason, our technology connects to over 5,000 educational technology applications and virtual drive solutions are linked through one click, offering instant and direct access on any device at any time. The technology we use is certified by IMS Global Learning Consortium and is the preferred solution for a growing roster of schools, publishers, and platform providers. More importantly, we serve a diverse range of organizations that speak different languages, enjoy varying levels of technology capacity, from limited access to computers to fully integrated one-to-one environments.

Just as the Knowledge Double Curve is poised to amplify the amount of information available in the world, so too will the need be amplified to ensure our students have steady, reliable access.

We hope you’ll consider joining with ClassLink as we engage with school partners across the world to ensure access in this fascinating era of change. We are eager to work with like-minded educational leaders that share our sense commitment to improving teaching and learning. You can learn more about our work and our technology at classlink.com.

Who knows...maybe together we can create a knowledge curve of our own.

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