Collaboration at ISTE 2016 Supports Global Education

By Tracey Winey, media and STEM specialist at Preston Middle School, adjunct professor at Colorado State University and 2016 Allen Distinguished Educator
August 1, 2016

Educators have known for generations that we are better, stronger, and more effective when we work together, share ideas, and stretch each other’s beliefs. A powerful network of teachers can define educational opportunities that inspire students all year long. International Standards of Technology in Education (ISTE) knows this and has provided a strong conference for educators to meet and work together annually. ISTE 2016 was hosted in Denver this year (my own backyard), and I was very excited to meet and reconnect with other Colorado educators in my personal learning network. 

During the conference, one theme was repeated more than any other: global education -- what is it, how to do it, where it fits and why do it. Global education broadly refers to geographically dispersed educators, classrooms, and schools that use online learning environments and digital technologies to learn with others beyond their immediate environment in order to support curricular objectives, intercultural understandings, critical thinking, personal and social capabilities, and ICT capabilities. According to Julie Lindsay, author of The Global Educator, “Global educators benefit from enhanced opportunities for networking and community building and enhanced collegiality with other educators within and beyond their immediate environment” (p. 50).

At the ISTE 2016 conference, I presented five different times. This was a risk for me because the more you present, the fewer sessions you can attend. Thankfully I always learn from my audience, make connections, and learn through the questions I am asked. This year I feel I personally learned more than I shared.

engineering-brightness.jpgMy first presentation was about a philanthropic engineering program I developed with my colleagues called Engineering Brightness (EB). Co-presenters included two American educators, John Howe and Dawn Dupriest; a Canadian educator, Ian Fogarty; three American student presenters; two Canadian student presenters; and a video from a Nicaraguan student. EB merges compassion with engineering to make the world a brighter place by globally collaborating to solve a real-world problem. Presenting at ISTE allowed us to make connections and encourage other educators to join our cause. Earlier this year I developed a video roadmap for Allen Distinguished Educators to share some best practices and lessons-learned regarding philanthropic engineering with other educators.

Tracey-and-John-Howe-SMART-Technologies.pngNext I presented with my colleague, John Howe on how SMART Technologies have enabled our global collaborations. Presenting in the SMART booth allowed teachers and administrators to see and hear how this technology can be authentically infused with cutting edge teaching. After the presentation I connected with a German special needs teacher and an elementary teacher who is part of a group called Real World Scholars. Both teachers offered new and interesting ideas for collaboration, and I am eager to connect their passions, expertise, and students with my students.  SMART Technologies also hosted an event for SMART Exemplary Educators (SEE) to connect. SEEs from Germany, Canada, England, and the U.S. were able to share ideas and be inspired. During the event I was humbled to be recognized in front of peers for receiving the Allen Distinguished Educator Award earlier this year.

Tracey-and-Julie-Lindsay-from-ISTE-_-2-(1).jpgMy third and fourth presentations were in the digital playground coordinated by global collaboration leader and teacherprenuer, Julie Lindsay. All of the playgrounds that morning had a global emphasis. My two presentations focused on the how and why of global education. I have been connecting my students with other countries my entire twenty years in education because I was able to study and teach in three different countries before teaching in the United States. The lessons I learned twenty years ago, ring true louder today than ever before. If we can incorporate global collaboration and learning into pre-service curriculum, our new teachers and students will benefit.

Students-Presenting-Arduino-2.jpgLastly, I partnered with two of my media cohorts from Fort Collins, Matt Benson and Becky Woodcox, for a MakerSpace in the Media Center playground. We represented kindergarten through high school and shared ways we each incorporate making and engineering in our individual schools and our district. It was so fun to meet people I didn’t know from my own district, and to meet educators from all over the United States. I was accompanied by three middle school student presenters who expertly demonstrated their knowledge using Arduinos and urged educators to include engineering in their curriculum. Learn how to bring music, coding, art, and engineering to the classroom with this open-educator Light Up Music Box project.
Although ISTE has now ended and my personal learning network has returned to their various homes across the world, our shared experiences and desires are far from over. As I sit in the Fort Collins library with my Twitter feed running and The Global Educator book open, I am inspired to use my global experience to better my local environment. I am empowered to make each moment, in and out of the classroom, count because students need educators with a global mindset. I am grateful for my entire community, local and global, for giving me the hope, the encouragement, and the reasons to keep learning. 

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