Founded by Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon, the Global Education Conference Network (formerly the Global Education Collaborative) has grown from strength to strength since its relatively humble beginnings back in 2007 to a 22,000 plus worldwide online community of teachers, students, education innovators, organisations and stakeholders. If you’re considering linking up with a school in another country for a collaborative learning project, then this is a great place to find a partner school. The emphasis here is very much on discussion, collaboration and the fostering of global learning partnerships with a mission to “significantly increase opportunities for connecting classrooms while supporting cultural awareness and recognition of diversity and educational access for all.”
Each year in November, to coincide with “International Education Week” – a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, the GEC Network invites educators, students and life-long learners from around the world to participate in an online, round the clock global education virtual conference focusing on innovations in education, global citizenship and connecting classrooms. It’s a totally free event with all presentations hosted on the Blackboard Collaborate platform, an easy to use webinar platform offering presenters plenty of opportunities for real-time audience participation and feedback. This year the event will span three days from next Monday, November 13th through to Wednesday, November 16th, 2017. There are eight conference tracks available over the three days with something for anyone with an interest in global education initiatives:
- STRAND 1″Teachers” – the primary conference strand aimed at supporting and nurturing teachers considering or already involved in global collaborative projects.
- STRAND 2: “Students” – this track looks at global education initiatives from the student’s perspective including student foreign exchange programmes and giving examples of successful student led global projects.
- STRAND 3: “Curricular“- as suggested this track focuses on pedagogy and best practice in curriculum development in the areas of digital citizenship and the development of 21st century skills.
- STRAND 4: “Leadership” – this strand puts the spotlight on school administrators and the key leadership role they play in creating, fostering and supporting international learning partnerships.
- STRAND 5: “Dual Language”– for those interested in integrating dual language programmes into their classroom this track looks at instructional strategies for successful integration.
- STRAND 6: “Sustainable Development Goals” – this strand supports the 2015 adoption by the United Nations of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); a set of 17 goals designed to end poverty, address climate change, and ensure global equality and prosperity. The track highlights those educational projects and initiatives which support students’ development as active global citizens.
- STRAND 7: “Study Abroad and Exchange Programs” – both physical and virtual student exchange programmes are the subject of this strand with information on funding opportunities.
- STRAND 8: “Higher Education” – the focus here is on global initiatives in higher education institutions and their preparations for students working in a global workplace.
There are also a whole host of interesting keynote speakers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives; great innovators such as Ira Socal and Pam Moran whom many Irish educators would be familiar with thanks to the ICT in Education Conference in 2012 and the wonderful work of Pam O’Brien and the #ICTEDU team at LIT Thurles. Among the keynotes this year is Seán Ó Grádaigh, NUIG lecturer, founder and current chair of the MiTE Conference (International Conference on Mobile Technologies in Initial Teacher Education). Another great conference scheduled for January (19th & 20th) 2018 in Galway. Always great to see an Irish innovator at a global conference!
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Your first step is to register for the conference through the Eventbrite page. You are also encouraged to join the GEC community, although it’s not a requirement for attendance. However I would recommend it as you can then join in the conference chat outside of the individual webinars. This is particularly useful if you want to follow up with a presenter after the event or review conference notes. Once registered you can then browse through the Sessions and Schedule, making note of any time zone conflicts and then follow the instructions for attending a session. The baseline time zone for the Conference is GMT so it’s very easy to calculate the correct session time. Be warned that Blackboard Collaborate requires a compatible version of java on whatever device you use so you may be prompted to download java before your session can begin; once this is done you are good to go. The good news is that you can also attend via your mobile, Android or IOS, which makes the conference very accessible. For more information on how to attend a session go to GEC.
If you can’t make it to any of the live events, you can always catch up later as all sessions are recorded and will be available to view from the GEC archive, whilst keynotes will be available through the GEC’s youtube channel.