Educators of the World, Unite!

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Global Education Conference

By Betsy Corcoran, EdSurge

Demonstrating how technology is the connective tissue in education, thousands of teachers and students from around the world will meet up in cyberspace this week to share ideas about global collaboration in learning.

The totally free and ginormous conference, which runs from November 14 to 18, 24 hours a day, is the brainchild of two hyper-networked educators, Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon, each of whom has built formidable online communities of educators. Gray has focused on helping educators connect with their peers around the globe; while Hargadon's community, Classroom 2.0, focuses on exploring emerging technology. Last year, they joined forces to create the first Global Education Conference, which attracted more than 15,000 participant log-ins from around the globe.

This year, the grand meet-up promises to be even bigger --¿cómo se dice en espanol, en francais, en deutsch -- you get the idea, more international than ever. Sessions are divided into four strands (teachers, students, curriculum, policy/leadership). Gray and Hargadon have given the go-ahead to more than 300 independent sessions, along with a dozen or so keynotes including ones by Alan November (education-technology consultant) on Monday, Ewan McIntosh, CEO of NoTosh Ltd. (an education design consultancy) on Tuesday, Chris Dede (Harvard Graduate School of Education professor) on Wednesday, Esther Wojcicki (a high school journalism teacher and Google advisor), and wrapping up with Ed Gragert (executive director of iEARN-USA) on Friday.

Conference participants will also have a secret code so they can watch a virtual screening of a stirring new documentary "Louder than a Bomb," which follows Chicago high school students competing in the world's largest poetry slam competition.

It's worth exploring the entire week's program, but just to give a glimpse of the variety of subjects covered, here are a few highlights from the collection of sessions:

  • Lessons from the teapot: Using Facebook in the classroom: Forget planking. This is how a couple of teachers in Australia and their students started a new fad in Australia: "teapotting."
  • Design a Global Collaborative Project in 10 weeks from Start to Finish...Anyone Can Do It: Teachers in Sao Paulo, Brazil describe how they created an international "i-Spy" project, grades K-3.
  • Youth Media Creation in the At-Risk Student Population: How at-risk students are creating high quality youth media projects.
  • Dipping into the Edtech fun--outside of Silicon Valley: From Mongolia to anywhere in the world, how educators are building the technology tools that are right for their environment. (Disclaimer: EdSurge will lead this session.)
  • Low-Cost Blended Schools: Long-time reformer Tom Vander Ark talks about how to create blended learning programs with inexpensive tablet computers and open source content.
  • Overcoming the Digital Divide: How Computer Labs Can Reduce Poverty and Boost Online Learning for 1 Billion Impoverished Children: How to build a school computer lab in the developing world.
  • Hungry for Peace: The tale of a family two years into a four-year project to eat a meal from every country in the world.

That's just a peek at a few of the sessions. Look here for the full glorious list, then scroll down to find your very own time zone. There's a talk for everyone.