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Thank you CDI!
Founder, Bon Education
Teaching tips, technology tools and links to free literacy resources on the web
At the moment I am involved in a number of education, literacy and technology projects across the GCC. As a part of this work, I have the fortunate opportunity to meet with education stakeholders from the public, private and NGO sectors daily. It is so exciting to see so much energy and enthusiasm in the region around literacy and technology as highlighted by the upcoming Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature as well as the work EDC is currently doing to bring open source course materials and trainings to teachers across Yemen.
Every time I meet with universities and school teachers in the region, the same buzz words keep coming up:
Not surprising, these are the same buzz words I heard on a daily basis last year while working on education technology projects around the US!
In line with the aforementioned themes, there are a number of organizations across the globe creating platforms and initiatives to help teachers share lessons and best practices while at the same time building their own technology literacy skills. One such organization is a non-profit called Curriki:
Curriki is a social entrepreneurship organization that supports the development and free distribution of open source educational materials to improve education worldwide. The online community gives teachers, students and parents universal access to a wealth of peer-reviewed K-12 curricula, and powerful online collaboration tools. Curriki is building the first and only Web site to offer a complete, open course of instruction and assessment. Founded by Sun Microsystems in 2004, the organization has operated as an independent nonprofit since 2006.
Recently I reread the 2007 McKinsey report, How the World’s Best Performing School Systems Come out on Top. Between March 2006 and May 2007, a team of McKinsey researchers and consultants did an intense review and analysis of multi-country PISA results and education best-practices literature. In addition, they conducted 100+ interviews with experts, policymakers and practitioners around the world in order to benchmark 2 dozen school systems throughout the Middle East, North America, Asia and Europe. The goal of the research was, “to understand why the world’s top performing school systems perform so much better than most others and why some educational reforms succeed so spectacularly when most others fail” (p. 11).
The report points out that the best school systems:
In case you’re curious, school systems that they consider to fall into this category include at the top: Alberta, Australia, Belgium, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Ontario, Singapore and South Korea.
Reading this made me wonder… What goes on behind the doors of classrooms in Alberta and Finland that is so spectacular? How do these teachers learn their trade? How do they continue learning and improving their art?
Luckily I recently discovered The Global Education Collaborative–an excellent social network that connects teachers and students interested in global education around the world. Think of the possibilities! How about connecting with a classroom in Jamaica to study the water cycle and literacy? Or, why not have your students do a joint wiki history project with students at an international school in Spain!
The world is our classroom! To learning, collaboration, technology literacy and more!
And the gold metal in “upper secondary graduation rate” goes to… NORWAY!
In between your back-to-school preparations and broadcasts of your favorite Olympic events from Beijing, why not take a few seconds to see how the US and other countries rank in the Education Olympics:
Over the last few decades, the United States has trailed other developed (and some developing) nations on international measures that assess student performance in reading, mathematics, and science. The purpose of the Education Olympics is to contrast America’s tepid academic performance with its athletic dominance. While America’s athletes bring home a trove of medals from Beijing, its student competitors are expected to be relatively barren of jewelry. We want to ask: What will the United States do to turn around this critical situation?
The data on which the events in the Education Olympics are based come from four main international measures, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and the Civic Education Study (CIVED). There are 58 events, each based on test scores from a section of one of the above exams, except for a handful of events that reflect measures of educational attainment.
Immediately following the Education Olympics, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute will release a companion report, which will contain all of the data presented on this website, as well as further analysis and commentary on the results. It will be available as a free download at edexcellence.net.
While browsing through the Urban Education Exchange website, I came across a short article by Linda Darling-Hammond that was originally published in Time Magazine on February 14, 2008. The article is titled, “How they do it abroad” Darling-Hammond writes:
When school starts each year, the most important question on the minds of parents and children is, Who will my teacher be? The concern is well founded. Researchers have discovered that school’s deepest influence on learning depends on the quality of the teacher… Put simply, expert teachers are the most fundamental resource for improving education.
She goes onto discuss how countries with top international rankings (such as Finland, Singapore, Canada and Japan) prepare their teachers. A former MA student in comparative and international education and teacher in Japan, I find studying other school system’s a fascinating endeavor! There is so much we can learn as educators from our international peers. If you have 3 minutes, check our Darling-Hammond’s article here.
PS If you are interested in catching a glimpse of the education systems in India and China, you might enjoy the recent documentary 2 Million Minutes.