Using technology to support global education

In the summer of 2006, I was very fortunate to travel to Europe with colleagues in the Apple Distinguished Educator program and it proved to be an inspiring, life-changing event for me. Tasked with writing a global awareness curriculum infused with digital content, we spent 10 days in Berlin and Prague, constantly photographing, filming, and discussing our experiences. As a group, we had been moved to action after reading such books as A World is Flat and A Whole New Mind, and I think our travel experiences reinforced our beliefs that kids (and adults) need to connect to other cultures in order to fully understand and participate in the world. We clearly understood that there never has been an easier time to make these connections via technology and that these technological possibilities will only improve with time.

Around the same time, edublogger Steve Hargadon started Classroom 2.0, an online community built on the Ning platform. Classroom 2.0 is designed to help educators investigate new and emerging technololgies, and it’s proven to be a great community with a membership of over 40,000 educators. Inspired by Classroom 2.0 and pleased with Ning’s ease of use, I also started a community focused on bringing educators and other interested parties together around the topic of global education. Primarily, this has been a networking space where teachers and students can find partners for global collaborative projects.

Steve has since become a consultant at Elluminate, an e-learning company, and he uses their web conferencing platform to host a myriad of free events including Classroom 2.0 Live and the Future of Education. He asked me a few months ago what we could do to significantly impact education using Elluminate, and I suggested an online virtual conference, similar to what other educational technology colleagues have created in the K12 Online Conference.

Either we are completely out of our minds or very brave (take your pick), but we are now attempting to make this a reality. After a couple of months of brainstorming and discussion with groups such as the Asia Society, IEARN, and ePals, we announced this week a preliminary call for participation in the proposed 2010 Global Education Conference. This event is a collaborative effort to significantly increase opportunities for global collaboration in education.

Our idea is to host free conference sessions related to Teachers, Students, Pedagogy, Leadership and Policy, and Change over the course of 5 days in November of this year. Sessions will be scheduled around the clock, as well as archived, in order to accommodate time zone differences. We still have a great deal of work to do around logistics, so this preliminary call is really focused on getting people involved to help and soliciting ideas for reaching educators around the world. In the first 24 hours of publicizing this event, over 1000 inquiries have been received and we’re absolutely thrilled with the response.

You can help by signing up to participate in some way, or by simply passing on this information. Stay tuned for updates as we begin our efforts to connect educators and students around the world!

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