Education's real superheroes assemble

What is global education? A free online conference addresses that question.

On Monday, November 15, 2010, Steve Hargadon and I are bringing together real superheroes. We’ve joined forces via our respective education social networks, Classroom 2.0 and the Global Education Collaborative, to showcase best practices in global education using the videoconferencing platform, Elluminate. With more than 350 general sessions and 60 keynote sessions, our colleagues in our personal learning networks will ponder the future of education globally in this completely free and virtual conference.

We’ve chosen to organize an event that we believe will re-inspire educators in this age of school reform. Never before has it been easier to connect classrooms around the world using technology, and we believe that the cornerstone of our success as a global community lies in students and teachers learning how to connect, communicate and collaborate. The next generation faces increasingly complex problems with world-wide implications, and in order to tackle these challenges, students today must learn to work effectively in our knowledge-based, global economy. These are not simply concerns for education in the United States, but global issues that require open and collaborative engagement that reaches beyond borders.

But what is global education exactly? The term seems to have varying connotations for people. For some, global education relates to the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education for the world’s children. To others, it might mean educating about global social justice issues such as human trafficking and disease prevention. In schools, global education generally has been addressed by providing multicultural experiences to students so that they develop a better understanding of geography and cultures.

The other day I came across some well articulated thoughts on the subject that broaden traditional interpretations of global education. In 2004, Fairleigh Dickinson University President J. Michael Adams reflected on his attempt to define global education in his inaugural address:

Global education can be summarized by connections and perspectives. It’s about understanding the nature of the connections that link people from all corners of the globe, and it’s about expanding those connections for the betterment of all. It means considering the world as a whole, with a rich (and sometimes unpleasant) interplay of nations and cultures. And it’s about introducing ourselves and our students to multiple viewpoints, so we might develop the ability to understand the world through the eyes of others and to work alongside others from different backgrounds.

During the 2010 Global Education Conference, we’ll be encouraging our colleagues to ponder their own definitions of global education and to think about how to practically weave global awareness into their teaching as recommended by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ Framework for 21st Learning. According to the Partnership, academic content is still important in today’s classrooms, but teachers need to artfully integrate content with 21st-century themes of global awareness, civic literacy, environmental literacy, health literacy, and financial literacy.

Thought leaders from innovative education-related organizations such as iEARN, ePals, and the Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning will be joining us to generously share their work, in addition to more than 300 classroom practitioners and students. This conference offers something for everyone, and it is our hope that participants will be empowered by discovering and exploring a multitude of resources. Technology makes this global online gathering possible, and it’s time to start leveraging its power to improve education.

For more information and the full schedule of sessions and keynotes, visit

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