International Education Week, a US government initiative, is scheduled from November 12th to 16th and to coincide with this event there are two major education conferences taking place online, the third Global Education Conference and for the first time iEARN’s Conference and Youth Summit. Running together over 5 days, sessions are scheduled around the clock to accommodate participants worldwide and take place virtually using the Blackboard Collaborate platform (formerly WIMBA/Elluminate).
Never before has it been so easy for educators globally to connect, network and develop a PLN that extends way beyond their national borders. For those who are hungry for information on new approaches to learniing, online educator ning communities like those behind the Global Education Conference such as Classroom 2.0 and Teachers 2.0 offer a cornucopia of knowledge banks, resources and discussion groups. As educators, policy makers, edtech organisations and indeed parents we should be making every effort to keep abreast of new developments, ideas and resources in global education and these free communities and online conferences provide the perfect opportunity to do just that.
My own PLN journey began strangely enough not through an Irish website but through Learncentral.org, the Elluminate sponsored global community for educators and run by the brilliant Steve Hargadon. The site sadly closed down in December of last year but was soon replaced by WeCollaborate.com, another online community for educators using Blackboard Collaborate. Learncentral opened the door for me to a whole new world of online communities such Classroom 2.0, Teacher 2.0 and the Global Education Conference Network. I dip in an out of these occasionally but keep up to date with developments and events through their newsletters. The amount of free CPD content available as podcasts and recorded webinars is staggering. Just one quick look through Steve Hargadon’s The Future of Education Blog and you can instantly view a huge range of recorded material including all of the keynotes from the Learning 2.0 Virtual Conference featuring two of my favourite speakers Angela Maiers and Sugata Mitra. (Sample of recorded interviews and webinars below).
This year’s Global Education Conference is billed as “a collaborative and world-wide community event designed to significantly increase opportunities for globally-connecting educators, students, and organizations.” General session strands will focus on teachers, students, curriculum, policies, professional development and leadership. Amongst the keynote speakers this year is Sasha Barab, a Professor in the Teachers College at Arizona State University and creator of the Quest Atlantis programme, an immersive virtual learning environment for children aged 9-13 years supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I’ll also be hoping to catch Jenny M. Buccos founder and creator of the not for profit ProjectExplorer.org (www.projectexplorer.org) who’s mission is to bring the world into the classroom with free multimedia content and lesson plans that “improve students’ global awareness and cross cultural understanding”. However, if I miss any of these live webinar events, it won’t be a problem as all the keynotes and more besides will be recorded.
This year I’m delighted to see a new addition to the conference schedule with a game based learning strand in which gamers and edtech startups are invited to participate. This reflects the growing acceptance of game based learning as an important pedagogy to engage students, increase motivation and improve academic achievement. Brainpop, the animated site for Science and Maths curricular content is supporting this new strand.
The call for proposals for the conference has been extended to October 29th so there is still time for Irish educators and ed tech companies to get involved. In the meantime you can view the list of 158 accepted proposals, I promise that you’ll be spoilt for choice. (See some tasters below.)