Thursday, November 19, 2009

WISE 09 - It's a wrap here in Qatar


Photos from the WISE event

The inaugural WISE event in Qatar is over. We have networked, talked, debated, deliberated and tried to find creative solutions to global problems......but now we are all going home to process and work out how we can make the most of what we learned, who we met and where we could go from here.

So, what were the highlights for me over the three days??

What has really stayed with me is the fact that EVERYONE you talked to at this event had an interesting story to tell, and an 'important' position in terms of education (at all different levels, countries etc). So, during breaks or while in sessions, or even traveling on the shuttle bus, talking to people about what they did, why they were in Qatar and so on was a highlight. Especially as I now have a small collection of business cards with some excellent potential contacts to email and make stronger ties with.

On day 2 the person that was most impressive was during the 'Increasing Access Through Technology' session, Dr Paul Kim from Stanford University. He has developed what he calls the POMI 2020 (Programmable Mobile Open Internet), or PocketSchool. When he started to describe how he is distributing small computer devices, like gaming tools, to poor, rurual villages and how he is developing software for the linux-based OS that is culturally and geographically relevant to help improve literacy, Tom Barrett and I agreed THIS was worth listening to AND provided a viable solution. In comparison, many of the presenters continued to relate the problems without providing solutions).

Today, Day 3, Prof Sugata Mitra, from the Education faculty at Newcastle University in the UK spoke about his ongoing 'Hole in the Wall' project. It was thrilling to hear and see images and short videos from this long-admired experiment. He is currently working on Self Organising Systems and working in schools in the UK on research. We had the opportunity to speak with him during a break and found he had a rationale, liberated approach to classroom teaching, always putting the student first. He spoke about how a 4 to 1 (student to computer) ratio was his preferred mode of working as students then collaborated on problem solving and were not totally involved in manipulating the technology.

In addition, Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, spoke about the history of Twitter and how it has become a social networking tool that has a popular in online communication distinct from email and blogging and other forms of connecting. He talked about the open and free exchange of information made possible by Twitter, and how this can lead to positive world impact. He shared that to be more informed = more engaged = more empathetic = world is a smaller place and therefore enhanced awareness of us as global citizens.

At the closing plenary session Dr Abdullah shared with us the 10 WISE Priorities that will be the focus of interaction and action between now and the next WISE in 2010. These were developed over the past 3 days based on session presentations and discussions. More details will be found on the WISE website eventually.
  1. Access to quality education
  2. A fully integrated approach
  3. Global citizenship
  4. Education embedded in local community
  5. Protecting education and educators
  6. Reconciliation
  7. WISE pioneers to monitor our progress
  8. Innovating new ways to learn
  9. Pursuing sustainable development
  10. A future built on multi-stakeholder partnerships

In addition, Qatar Foundation will be starting a discussion forum on the website, which along with a list of contacts from this event, should help us all to stay in touch and find each other.....well, it's a start at least.

9 comments:

Rebecca Hatherley said...

I am so jealous--I have wanted to go to the conference since I caught wind of it over a year ago.

Thanks for blogging about it. It helps those who cannot go feel connect.

Sorry I missed you while you were in town.

Rebecca

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