Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011 Global Education Challenge?

How do you face a challenge?  I tend to jump right in. After a summer of reflection, research and rest, I read about the 2011 Global Education Conference.  I knew it was time that I engaged my students with projects that foster greater global awareness.  I wanted to learn more so I created and submitted a presentation proposal.  

I could have simply attended the conference, but I knew that engaging with the event in a deeper way would propel my learning with greater attention and motivation.  Creating and submitting the proposal was the first learning event.  For years, I have been improving the unit, What's My Culture?, to build students' respect and awareness of their own cultures and other's cultures.  I honed the unit, wrote the proposal and moved into the teaching year with an eye on my email waiting for response.

From time to time, I visited the conference website to read the latest submissions and news updates.  I continued to develop and teach the unit while reflecting on its merits.  Then I heard the good (and scary) news: my proposal was accepted.  That led me to the next layer of learning--presenting online to a global audience.  I have never done that before.  I did have the chance to engage in a great online discussion led by Jo Hart once, and that gave me some exposure to Blackboard Collaborate and global learning, but essentially this is a brand new learning endeavor for me.  It's both exciting and daunting at the same time.

Luckily the 2011 Global Education team led by Steve Hargadon and Lucy Gray offer tremendous support. The frequent detailed emails, links and online training have supported my launch well.  The one-hour online training led by Steve Hargadon was specific and tailored to presenters' and moderators' needs.  The tech specialists at my school helped me as well. They responded with needed equipment (headset), technical advice and the offer to help when needed. Furthermore, my PLN quickly responded to numerous question-tweets regarding presentation content, voice, and organization.  Anne Mirtschin from Australia wrote and shared a post outlining the steps to a successful presentation.  Sham Sensei from Singapore tweeted important presentation tips. Rita Oates from ePals offered to lend her support and collaboration for the project, and many other faithful educators tweeted encouraging messages and links.  

I also shared this endeavor with my students.  We watched the conference trailer and discussed what global connectivity is.  They lent me their support and thoughts last Friday with poster creation and blogging:

  • "Yes I think its good to learn about other people's cultures because then you know what not to say that might be offensive to their culture."
  • "I think it is important to learn about your culture and others because if you don't learn about culture, you won't understand your culture or other's culture. I think we should learn about culture by sharing about different cultures. I like having ePals because I think it's cool to work with people online."
  • "I think it is important to learn about our culture and other cultures because when you grow up, you will have to work with people all over the world. I think kids should learn about other cultures by making culture flags and reading about it. I like having Minnesota and London partners so we can work with them and see different cultures."
On Monday morning, I plan to watch one of the the keynote speakers, Alan November.  I've invited colleagues to share this event with me.  I'm offering coffee and bagels as an added incentive.  I'm hoping a few will take me up on this rare chance to learn with educators throughout the world.

It's not too late to get involved in the 2011 Global Education Conference and further your global education efforts: volunteer (training provided) and/or attend one or more of the sessions.  I also welcome your attendance and insights during my presentation, What's Your Culture?, Monday, November 14th, 10 pm EST.  You can follow the conference highlights on Twitter via #globaled11.

Stay tuned for my conference afterthoughts next week, and as always, I welcome your comments, questions and debate.  The 2011 Global Education Conference is one reason why it's an exciting time to be an educator today.