Final Thoughts on TEP09

I’m back in Bangkok and have had a couple days to really think about what this conference was trying to do, and where do we go from here.

The second day of the conference offered some deeper conversations for me. First was a session on eLearning in which I was able to give an 8 minute talk on how eLearning is and can be used in K-12 education. I was one of nine people given 8 minutes to talk and overall a well received session that highlighed ways to use eLearning in classrooms and at schools. Moodle was mentioned the most as a place to get started. Its price (free) and flexibility make is a great option for any school or nation to set up and start offering online courses.

The session after eLearning, Involving Parents and the Community, was also well attended and I believe hit the mark on what people were looking for. From using technology to communicate with parents, to creating mentoring programs for children who need a positive adult role model in their lives. The talks were varied and passionate.

In the end what this conference is trying to do is…..well…..it’s big. There are so many varying factors to consider and as I listened to someone present information on a successful solution in one country I overheard participants from other countries saying, “That won’t work for us!”

Culture, access, money, teachers, were all things mentioned in holding nations back. I had the opportunity to have a great discussion with the Director of Makini Schools in Nairobi, Kenya. They have just gotten broadband access and are now asking themselves what do they do with it? Here’s a school/country that is prime to take advantage of online learning. We had a great 45 minute discussion about his country, his frustrations, and where he hopes to take his schools in the future.

In the end…this is what this conference was truly about (and I’d argue the reason we still go to conferences) the ability to make connections with others. The sessions/presentations get you thinking but it’s 45 minutes spent in the hallways in deep discussion with someone you would have never of met otherwise that makes you want to go back.

The website claimed that you’d walk away with some 200 contacts. I’m not sure I ended up with 200 but I did meet some amazing people who are doing amazing things around the world. When you come to a conference like this you realize just how big and complex of a world we live in. That not everything is cut and dry and just because the solution looks easy and seems easy to us here, does not always mean the same will apply in other parts of the world.

Plans are already being made for 2010. The dates have already been set (Oct. 8-10, 2010) and if you think you would like to be a part of these global conversations around educating the world, this is a great place to start.

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