Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Get Connected, Globally-#WISE2012

I have traveled to Qatar for the World Innovation Summit on Education. In it's 4th year, WISE aims to draw together the major players in education to have conversations and create actions to make change in education. Over 1500 people and 100 countries are represented. During the 3 days of the conference folks will come together to talk about access to education, technology, sustainability of educational initiatives and more. As an invited blogger I will be capturing some thoughts and highlighting whats happening (and providing a little bit of commentary too…)

The focus this morning has been on change and innovation. And really, that is the focus of this conference over all. It began with an opening and a charge from Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser to be proactive and opening our minds and our voices to each other. We can all work better and smarter if we just listen to each other. 

That theme was continued through the morning panel, although, I was disappointed in the make-up of that panel. I understand that as part of this conference business is involved. And rightly so. Businesses have a vested interest in education as, in many parts of the world, the purpose of education is to create a workforce. But as an American, listening to a VP from Exxon Mobile talk about how we need to focus on Teacher Training and hear him talk about their efforts in that area, when I definitely don't want business involved in that aspect of education, is a tough pill to swallow for me. But the theme was clear. We have to do things differently. Education is an old institution still operating in old ways. Yet the world continues to push forward. As one panelist said, we have to think about the future as if it is the present when we think about change in education. 

In the morning debate we talked about student voice and the importance of student voice. One thing I do appreciate at this conference is the diversity in voice. We heard from educators from Estonia, Palestine, Jordan, the USA, Australia and more. One thing was very clear. Student voice, no matter the age, the level, or the country is important. 

Yet, there is one thing that becomes more and more clear to me as I listen to all these voices from across the globe. 


We have to be connected educators. 

We have to be connected learners. 

None of the things we talk about that we want to do to change education happens in isolation. And rarely can we make the real change we need to alone. We have to look beyond ourselves and reach out and connect. 

This whole idea of connectedness lends itself perfectly to education. Learning is a social event, yet when kids (and teachers) enter a physical learning space, the social aspect is often removed. Social media is a boundless space that allows for us to connect and learn, together. SOCIAL media is just that. Social. Just this morning I had conversations with educators from 3 continents on Twitter. Social media and getting connected allows us to truly look beyond our classrooms, our schools, and our boarders and get involved in deeper conversations for deeper learning. 

But with all the social and the conversations comes responsibility. Talk is cheap. Actions mean so much more. I really do hope as we move forward with this conference, and our own learning and sharing, that it isn't just about talk. We can formulate ideas here and communicate ideas there, but until we put them into action and do something all our talk means nothing. 

I hope you can follow along with the conversations and share what you are doing to innovate education. 

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