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A Look at What's Happening in Other Places

As someone who spends way too much time on planes, I have probably been most remiss in not sharing with you more of my observations from the many countries and people I have been fortunate enough to work with.

Susan is often saying to me that a blog or two wouldn’t go astray, but at the very least, that I should take the time to let others know just what’s going on in places that I’m fortunate enough to visit and work with.

My most recent travels over the past three months have been most illuminating, and accordingly, I’ll share three stories.

Firstly Canada, where I was pleased to be invited back again to the third and final Emerge Conference in August which was the culmination of three years of exploring what 1:1 might offer Albertian students. It involved 2,502 students, 173 teachers, and 47 administrators within 50 schools in the 20 jurisdictions, and each of the three years’ reports from the Metiri Group’s reports plot an interesting growth in thinking about what it might make possible. I only hope with all the excellent groundwork that has now been laid, the next phase of a provincial-wide roll-out might be high on the agenda of priorities.

Disappointingly, the New Brunswick initiative, for which there had been an extraordinary amount of preparation has been postponed due to the change of provincial government. Deputy Education Minister John Kershaw lead a great team up there, and had also instituted a very rigorous process to ensure the program they were planning to roll-out across the province had everything in place for maximum impact. We are reassured the incoming government wishes to continue, but they wanted to postpone the Conference I was due to speak at to give them time to review the overall planning.

My session in Brussels to address senior policy makers and ministry leaders from eight Western European countries was well received, despite my briefing beforehand suggesting that "1:1 was something for developing countries-because, well, they really need it!”

Given that we spent the best part of the late ‘90’s convincing people around the world that the idea that every child could have their own laptop, was not just something for wealthy kids in wealthy schools, I found the comment amusing, but also just a little sad.

If any educational leader in 2010 still wants to question this powerful idea, they should be honest and just say they can’t be bothered. Such legacy thinking is now being overrun by comments from Ministers, Secretaries of Education and Heads of State who more reasonably describe the idea that every child should have their own personal, portable computer as inevitable, an obligation…and every child’s right!

And finally, last week I had the pleasure of working in Singapore where once again I learnt much, and took away some wonderful insights. The workshops I was running were supporting a country-wide initiative by Crescent Girls School and Microsoft to share the extraordinary experience of Crescent over the six years of their tablet 1:1 journey with other Singaporean schools. This is an extraordinary school, with exceptional leadership, and when you have a Minister of Education, Dr Ng Eng Hen, who suggests their schools should...strengthen competencies for self-directed learning; tailor learning experiences according to the way that each student learns best; encourage students to go deeper and advance their learning, and of course, learn anywhere….it’s no wonder they are moving along so strongly.

As we head towards the end of the year, let’s celebrate the exceptional growth of a powerful idea, that started with just a few 10 year old girls nearly twenty years ago, and today, we now believe touches more than FIVE million K-12 students world-wide.

More stories from other places, next time... as always, I’m very interested in your thoughts...

Best regards,

Bruce.
December 9th, 2010 @ 2:45PM