Message from Our CEO
I’m George Newman, Founder & CEO of One Planet Education Network (OPEN). For over a quarter of a century, OPEN has been continually pushing the boundaries of education. Our Mission: To enhance and enliven the traditional learning experience with new technologies and tools, and to inject real-world relevance into education. Today, OPEN not only serves the education sector as we have since our inception in 1998, but also the commercial, NGO, and government sectors. Our global network which includes learners, customers, and partners now spans 17 countries.
At present, OPEN’s technology focus is on IoT and AI for sustainable community development. OPEN’s Products and Services equip our learners and customers with the knowledge and tools to effectively address our shared global challenges – food security, climate change resilience/mitigation, ecosystem restoration, stabilizing and increasing biodiversity, supporting community emergency services, and farm security. Our education, training, and systems integration solutions cover many of the UN’s 2030 SDGs – including zero hunger, climate action, quality education, gender quality, partnerships, and life on land goals.
For example, OPEN students and professional customers are learning to build and program, and then field deploy and network their IoT sensors as well as standard out-of-the box IoT sensor and AI/ML solutions. They then share their anonymized environmental monitoring data that is collected for citizen science and for professional research.
This data will validate different approaches and measure the impact, costs, and the value of our sustainable farming and forestry, and climate mitigation solutions we are testing. In the process our students are concurrently learning the basics of data science and AI technologies, for local capacity-building and economic gain.
The collaborations we are forging across all the sectors we now serve will produce practical solutions to some of today’s greatest challenges, and prepare all our learners for a soon-to-be radically transformed workplace.
A Look Back – 26 Year Retrospective and Ahead
Despite the gratitude expressed by many young students and teachers over the years, I’m keenly aware that we’ve only scratched the surface. The journey of transformative and experiential education must continue to expand, reaching further and wider as we navigate the challenges of our changing world. Yet, it’s clear that education systems globally have struggled to keep pace with these evolving needs.
The crux of modern education’s challenge lies not in the accumulation of exceptional standardized test scores, but in igniting a passion for lifelong learning early on with our next generations of young students.
The road to success for education for all levels of learners in 2024 and ahead? It is to foster critical thinking, interdisciplinary problem-solving, but always applied learning that addresses community needs and real-world issues. For budding citizen scientists, this approach automatically gives meaning to the subjects of science and math, demonstrating their relevance in our daily lives and for effectively tackling our current and future challenges.
However, the traditional education model, with its focus on rote memorization for standardized tests with the main goal of university acceptance, falls short of preparing our future generations for the complex problems they will inherit. We must strive for an education that empowers students not just to learn, but to learn how to learn.
As we stand at the cusp of a new era marked by rapid advancements in AI, machine learning, and digital technologies, now being put into action to address these critical multi-generational challenges, the imperative for an adaptive, lifelong learning mindset has never been greater. The landscape of jobs and industries is evolving at an unprecedented pace, raising critical questions about the future of work and the skills required to navigate it successfully.
In this rapidly changing world, OPEN remains committed to its mission of fostering scientific, technical, and cross-cultural literacy and knowledge sharing. We encourage thinking outside the box and inspire students of all levels everywhere to embrace the joy of discovering “the new stuff.”
Despite the uncertainties of the future, our dedication to enhancing global education through the effective application of science and technology for the betterment of our planet and its inhabitants remains steadfast.