Next week our country takes the opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide during the 13th International Education Week. The joint initiative of the US Departments of State and Education highlights programs that both prepare Americans for a global future and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States. The collaboration is designed, as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says in his video remarks, “to encourage our students to become globally competent and globally successful through international education and international engagement.”
In 2000, iEARN-USA was privileged to help launch the first International Education Week. As part of the initial planning for the week, iEARN-USA’s Director Emeritus Dr. Ed Gragert presented a white paper to the White House and US Secretary of Education Richard Riley. In it, he highlighted why President Clinton believed the week-long event was important:
To continue to compete successfully in the global economy and to maintain our role as a world leader, the United States needs to ensure that its citizens develop a broad understanding of the world, in other languages, and knowledge of other cultures. America’s leadership also depends on building ties with those who will guide the political, cultural and economic development of their countries in the future. …
… The Secretaries of State and Education shall strengthen and expand models of international exchange that build lasting cross-national partnerships among educational institutions with common interest and complementary objectives.
The Secretaries of State and Education, in cooperation with other agencies, the academic community and the private sector, shall promote wise use of technology internationally…
This year, iEARN is delighted to hold its first virtual week-long conference as part of the Global Education Conference next week, held as part of International Education Week. The Global Education Conference is a collaborative and worldwide community event designed to significantly increase opportunities for connecting educators (primary, secondary and tertiary levels), students, and organizations. More than 400 general session strands will focus on teachers, students, curriculum, policies, professional development and leadership. The free, ”anytime, anywhere” sessions are scheduled around the clock over the course of five days to accommodate multiple time zones.
Keynote speakers for this year’s conference reflect the 13,000-member community’s compelling mission and diversity, and include Andrew Revkin of the New York Times; Carol Bellamy of the Global Partnership for Education and former head of UNICEF; Dale Dougherty of Make Magazine; Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers; Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education; and social media expert Beth Kanter. Three iEARN leaders will also keynote: Hela Nafti (Tunisia); Narcis Vives (Spain); and Doris Tsuey-Ling Wu (Taiwan). The conference will feature a film exhibition and the work of Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee and his Global Oneness Project. New to this year’s event will be two technology-related strands. BrainPOP is sponsoring a section on gaming and game design, and GETideas.org is sponsoring another on global technology-driven innovation in cooperation with EdSurge. Both promise to highlight projects that leverage technology to promote global collaboration and understanding.
Years before Skype, Twitter, Khan Academy, and MOOCs challenged us to define how technology can enhance education, forward-thinkers at the US Departments of Education and State and their peers in ministries of education worldwide were ahead of the curve, leveraging International Education Week to build bridges for future collaboration through communities of connected educators, public diplomacy, and virtual exchange. This November, iEARN is honored to celebrate International Education Week through its partnership with the Global Education Conference, an event which co-chairs Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon have imbued with the spirit of professional generosity. This generosity—and the trust, respect and humility that results from meaningful cross-cultural classroom collaboration—is what iEARN’s two million participants may tell you is the wisest international use of technology they’ve ever experienced.