A Global Journey - ISTE2011

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Information about A Global Journey - ISTE2011

Published on January 29, 2012

Author: julielindsay

Source: slideshare.net


International educator and ISTE Board member, Julie Lindsay, shares her global journey via this short presentation delivered at the ISTE 2011 Opening Ceremony, Philadelphia, USA
See blog post http://123elearning.blogspot.com/2011/06/international-journey.html

A Global Journey Julie Lindsay

“Come and teach in the real Africa,” was theadvertisement that inspired my husband and I to acceptour first international teaching positions in Zambia,January 1998. Ndola, Zambia

Our daughter, Violet, was three. We sold up most ofour worldly possessions in hometown Melbourne,Australia and left for Africa on our new adventure. Weare still out there as international educators, overthirteen years and five countries later

At Simba School, Zambia I had transformed into acomputer teacher, where I was running an ‘InternetClub’ as an after school activity and groups ofstudents participated in iEARN learning circleprojects.

This was an environment where only a singlecomputer in a locked room in the library was allowedon the Internet (by directive of our school head) withthe non-networked computer lab being a good 5minute walk away. This did not deter us!

KuwaitMoving to the Middle East I found a different environment whereeveryday my challenge was to be culturally sensitive to the hostcountry while continuing to implement new technologies andideas.In Kuwait the text books were highly censored and often largesections blacked out, the Internet was filtered of course, but Iwas able to access necessary websites and tools for education.

The English School for Girls, my first position in Kuwait,was a girls-only environment, No men at all allowed.This was problematic for me as when I neededcomputers fixed I had to wait until long after schoolfinished, until all girls and women had left, so I couldbring in the male technicians.

Getting a little tired of this, I persuaded my head on anew arrangement. We agreed that if I yelled ‘Man inthe corridor’ and waited for all girls to scuttle into theclassrooms and don scarves and veils I could thenescort the technicians through to the computer lab.

BangladeshI continued my global journey to Bangladesh oneof the poorest, most crowded and desperatecountries in the world

It was during this time at International School Dhakathat we implemented a Palm handheld 1:1 programin the middle school, at a time in fact when thedevices were not available to buy in the country.

I still laugh at the story told by my Head ofschool when he literally carried 20 Palmsback from the US and sweated all the waythrough customs.

Around this time, Web 2.0 was emerging as a platformfor communication and collaboration. The time wasripe to embark on something new that could bescaffolded by online technologies and could joinstudents across the globe in meaningful learningexperiences. I joined my largely Bangladeshiclassroom with Vicki Davis’, ‘Coolcatteacher’ class,from GA USA, and the Flat Classroom Project wasborn.

QatarMoving back to the Middle East, Qatar, I wasconcerned whether I could transplant the FlatClassroom into this more closed and shelteredcommunity. Yes, the first challenges weretechnical to do with tools and access; the secondwere political - relying on me reassuring myschool administration nothing would happen toupset students or parents,

but once these were solved I focused on thereal challenge of connecting students,teenagers, across the world from verydifferent cultures but with many similarities.

My fears were largely unfounded, studentswanted to connect, and learn about theworld, and they did it with pride, fascinationand excitement.

I remember one parent, a beautiful Arabic woman inabaya and hejab, came to see me with tears in her eyes,exclaiming how excited the whole extended family werefor her daughter to be in the Flat Classroom Project,collaborating using technology and learning aboutleadership and digital citizenship and globalcommunication.I was in tears as well, tears of relief and joy, thinking shehad come to berate me for exposing her daughter to thewide world

Beijing, ChinaChina is another story. You have to be in China tounderstand how cut off from the world we can be attimes and how determined the powers to be are tokeep it that way. But then again, I know many schoolsin the US, Australia and other advanced countries arealso existing under the same conditions, by choice!

If you are in this situation, remember my wordsabout China - there is always a way to connect andcommunicate, you just have to be creative andpersevere.

So Ning goes down right after you encourage theentire staff to join during a workshop

Voicethread is blocked just after theelementary school teachers get reallyexcited and madly implement it into theirunits of inquiry

or in a strange twist of fate, Edublogs blocks China (notthe other way around) just after you set up your classblogs on this platform.

Very early on with Flat Classroom we saw the power and magicof connecting with others globally and the difference it wasmaking to learning, including breaking through stereotypicalattitudes and behaviours.Not only did we keep developing flat classroom projects but wehad a dream to bring students and teachers together f2f tocement collaborative relationships and work on actionable ideas.If the impact of global collaboration was evident in anasynchronous project, we imagined the opportunity for growth ifwe could get students and teachers from all parts of the worldworking together in the same place at the same time.

Our dream came true in 2009, when the firstFlat Classroom Conference held in Qatarchanged lives and cast a vision for the future ofeducation.

This year in Beijing the second Flat ClassroomConference held at Beijing BISS InternationalSchool brought together over 200 participants,including 100 students, in a truly flattened learningmode where ideas were envisioned, shared anddeveloped.

This challenge-based event encouraged actionprojects for global curriculum and visions for improvededucation systems and saw all participants, includingvirtual team members, working together, and we heldit in China, behind the Great Fire Wall ...or ratherrunning along the top!

Being an international educator, and having adaughter as a ‘third culture kid’, meaninghaving lived her formative years outside hercountry of origin, I selfishly want others aroundthe world to experience what we are privilegedto live.

I want them to be confronted with different religiousand cultural beliefs and be immersed in anenvironment where English (or their own language) isnot spoken and where simple communication canoften result in highly creative sign language.

I want them to acknowledge and respect differencesand learn how to use their personal strengths to createa bond of understanding with new friends. I want themto question, doubt, be amazed, experience alternativelifestyles, treasure similarities, and learn how to get onwith other people globally

I want them to be able to do this without losing theirown identity and sense of belonging to a country orto a culture, and without feeling superior or inferiorto any other person.

I encourage each of you to embrace your ownglobal journey. There are three takeaways frommy story I would like you to remember:

Be open to alternatives......1.  Remember, you can always yell ‘Man in the corridor‘ If you or your IT people don’t have the answers find someone who does, or do it a different way

It’s cool to be ‘flat’1.  Use whatever tools you can to connect yourself with the world. Go beyond the ‘wow’ and embed global collaborative practice into everyday learning so that ‘unflat’ classrooms are unusual.

If you aren’t doing it, it’s not happening1. the words of Thomas Friedman in the 2007 edition of The World is Flat, in the chapter he writes about the Flat Classroom Project. So, get out there and make it happen, there are no excuses left, we have the technology, we have the pedagogy, it’s time to join the world.

In closing, here is my wish for everyone:To experience meaningful connection and collaboration that isbeyond the daily expectation, that is global in concept andpractice and supports cultural understanding and makes adifference to the world as we know it, one classroom at a time.

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