Teachers and students all across the United States are invited to take part in the new Connect All Schools Initiative, which aims to connect EVERY school in the United States with the world by 2016. Through the Connect All Schools interactive website, schools share stories using text, photo and video about how they are currently connecting their students to the rest of the world through such activities as student and teacher exchanges, global issues curricula, video-conferences and “Exchanges 2.0,” the use of new media and communications technologies to expand, extend, and deepen international cross-cultural exchanges.
Representatives of the US Departments of State and Education took the stage on Saturday morning, March 19th at the Celebration of Teaching and Learning in New York City to officially launch of the Connect All Schools initiative. More than 100 schools have already shared their inspiring stories on www.connectallschools.org and thousands of more stories are expected in the coming weeks. The consortium is spearheaded by iEARN-USA and managed in collaboration with 80 leading international education and exchange organizations. Qatar Foundation International in Washington D.C. has provided start-up funding.
“Despite the importance of global competency and engagement, US teachers are not aware of the many options for introducing their students to global issues, world languages, online international interaction and physical exchanges,” said iEARN-USA Executive Director Ed Gragert. “By reading stories of what schools are already doing, additional teachers across the country can learn about specific examples and work with partner organizations to replicate the successes around the country.”
The initiative was created in response to President Obama’s call to “create a new online network, so a young person in Kansas can communicate instantly with a young person in Cairo,” during his historic June 2009 speech to the Arab world. Since then, the Secretary of State and Secretary of Education have both emphasized the importance of learning other languages and gaining a global competency for U.S. students. Additionally, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a collaboration between the education community and private sector companies, has identified global awareness, ability to work in teams and familiarity with technology as some of the skills that our young people will need to have to effectively work in a global environment.
“Imagine the possibilities for our students to learn WITH the world, instead of just about it,” said Dr. Gragert. “Research has clearly demonstrated that authentic interaction with the world’s students across the curriculum results in enhanced learning, improved test scores and a heightened motivation to learn.”
For more information on this exciting initiative or to share your story, please visit: www.connectallschools.org or watch this short video on how to get involved.