World Virtual School Symposium

I hate missing ISTE this year but don’t worry it’s for a good cause.  Over the past three days I have been meeting with other international education regions to discuss the World Virtual School Project (WVS). At the moment this is an International School project being driven by the Department of State: Overseas Schools Division. The history of the project goes back to 9/11 and the closing of the International School of Islamabad after the terrorist attacks on that day. Basically as the embassy and school were shut down shortly after for security concerns it became critical to find a way to have the education continue especially for graduating seniors and even 11th graders at the time. Long story short a virtual school was set up for those students to continue their education and graduate on time. After this success story the State Department and schools in the region started working on putting a plan into place that would allow them to carry on school if for some reason there was a school closure. Out of this concern the World Virtual School Project was born and has slowly been expanding to International Schools around the world. The State Department would really like to see all International Schools that are tied to U.S. embassies, consulates, and interests to have a plan to continue school if for some reason school closure was to happen.  As luck would have it two of the three schools I’ve worked at have closed for different reasons. Saudi Arabia for terrorist attacks and Bangkok for political protests. So this type of system would benefit many different international schools around the world. With this project also comes the added benefit of actually connecting schools to do projects both regionally and globally. Using Moodle as the backbone of the project, the project has slowly expanded to 65 schools and is growing. The WVS also played a role this past year in Egypt and in Tripoli were the education of students was disrupted due to upraising in those countries. So as you can see this is a program that is needed and has been successful already. Unless you’ve been in International Education you probably don’t realize just how vital this aspect is to supporting U.S. interests abroad. It’s hard to explain and would take to long here…so the next time you run into an International Educator have them explain it to ya.  All in all it’s been an interesting...

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My Thoughts on America

Flickr ID: clappstar I can’t believe I have been back in the States three weeks already. Summer goes way to fast. Family, friends, and the continued remodel of our condo has filled my time which has kept me away from the computer…that’s a good thing when it comes to vacation time though. 🙂 Now I find myself some 30,000 feet over the mid-west on my way to Washington D.C. and the JOSTI conference. I was asked by the U.S. Deptartment of State and the Jefferson/Overseas Schools Technology Institute (JOSTI) organizers to represent the EARCOS region (Southeast Asia) as they discuss a program called the World Virtual School. It also means that I miss out on this year’s ISTE conference. I’ll be following via Twitter and other streams but not the same as being there and connecting with your PLN in person and making new connections. Next year for sure in San Diego! This year marked my 9th year of being overseas. Each year the U.S. seems more “foreign” to me. The more global I become the more strange the U.S. becomes. What is interesting is the fact that I get to see huge changes in the use of technology within American society. Unlike those that live here who see the technology slowly roll out. I get 6 weeks once a year to see how technology is changing America. This year is no different and here are a couple of my early observations.   Social Media: We know it’s everywhere, we know it’s what the “new web” is about. But it fascinates me to see Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare and Yelp signs in 99% of all the places I go to in Seattle (we’ll see if DC is the same). The last couple of years you’d find a sign here or there, but this year the Facebook f and the Twitter t are front and center in most shops. Asian societies aren’t there yet in their adoption of these tools for customer connections. American based companies are leading the way and we’ll see how long it takes, if ever, for this kind of social media induction to take hold in other parts of the world. Favor: US QR Codes: I predicted this would be the year these little buggers would show up in American society and I have to say not a bad guess on my part. What I notice from last...

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Global Education: What does it mean to be educated? #TEP10

Just out of the first session at The Education Project here in Bahrain which set the stage for what is going to be some hot debated topics in the coming days. Tony Wagner (Co-Director of the Change Leadership Group, Harvard Graduate School of Education, USA) set the stage for the first session with three key points that are facing global education today. Global Equity Teaching and Assessing Motivating the “Net Generation” Global equity came up a couple times in the debate of how do we insure that all students have the skills to be part of a global society today but still hold on to our cultural beliefs? It is a worry, that global education will lead to a homogenized society. I see this today already happening in international schools and the countries I visit. People apologizing for who they are or where they come from. An Indian woman stood up and talk about this at length on how the culture plays such an important role in education no matter where you come from. That culture is not just national, but local as well. A great point was made that even national standards if not able to be adaptable at the local level can surpress culture. Something we need to think carefully about as we think about global education. Charles Leadbeater (Consultant for innovation in education and author, UK) made some great points as well around the idea that we need to spread ideas not scale ideas. He talked in length about a push vs pull education system. When we talk about scaling a model we’re pushing that model out to schools and it’s very top down. What we need is to spread ideas and principles that can then be taking, adjusted to local needs and pulled within the larger educational systems in which we educate. He made a fantastic analogy to McDonald’s vs Chinese Buffets. McDonald’s is a system that is meant to scale. No matter where you are in the world McDonald’s taste the same, looks the same, is the same. Chinese Buffets are principles that spread. There are no Chinese Buffet chains, but the idea of what a chinese buffet should look like and feel like is taken, adjusted to local needs, area, building, culture, and adapted and delivered very successfully all over the world. What we need is educational ideas and principles that are chinese buffets in nature and can spread and adapt....

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Education Project Bahrain

I’m in Bahrain to attend the Education Project. A conference that is being hosted by HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalif. His idea is to look at education on a global scale and bring together educational thinkers from around the globe to discuss and think about educating every child (Don’t ask me how I got invited to this….way out of my league here). The list of speakers is amazing and it’s great just to be included among the names on the list. It’s a bold task….educating every child in the world and looking at the different models from different countries. It’s a big question and one that I truly believes has technology in the solution. For many children in the world education has to do with lack of information and teachers….two things that technology can solve even in the most rural of places if we can get them connected. I believe the answer lies in cell technology and the ability to connect students to information. If you haven’t watched Sugata Mitra Ted Talk yet please do. I do believe he’s on to something and I think we can take what he’s started and spread it. Cell towers and cell technology now covers most of the worlds population. Cell technology is out pacing all other connection types world wide and once the cell towers are in place increasing there speed is nothing more than changing the signal on the equipment. You can read my reflections from last year here. Looking forward to some more deep thinking around global...

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