Conference News

International Online Teaching Conference To Focus on Web 2.0, Collaborative Technologies

The International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) will hold its 17th International Teachers Conference and Youth Summit (ITCYS) in Barrie, Ontario, Canada, July 12 through 17, 2010. The annual conference, hosted by iEARN-Canada, brings together from around the world educators who use the Internet and related technologies to enhance project-based learning (PBL) through online collaboration.

The first teachers' conference took place in Argentina in 1994 with only a handful of attendees, mainly from the host country. In 2003, after receiving feedback from students at member schools that they wanted to be included, iEARN created a parallel youth summit. With the growth of both the organization and interest in the meeting among members worldwide, iEARN said it expects total attendance at the 2010 ITCYS to exceed 1,300 educators, students, and others. Countries represented at the conference will include a diverse African contingent, including Kenya, Mali, Botswana, and Morocco, as well as Canada, the United States, China, Brazil, India, Qatar, Argentina, and Japan.

This year's conference will give attendees the opportunity to discover innovative ways in which Web 2.0 tools and other Internet technologies are being used throughout the world in a variety of areas. Workshops being offered look at online collaborative efforts in language acquisition, literacy, global art, science, math, creative writing, and social studies. In addition, there will be a workshop on school reform as it relates to PBL.

ITCYS is not purely an academic conference, however. Ed Gragert, executive director of iEARN-USA, explained that the social interaction resulting from the gathering of education communities from across the globe offers substantial benefits as well. Non-academic events include the Adobe Youth Voices Film Festival, which features films made by teens aimed at raising awareness of human rights issues around the globe; a youth environmental panel from the Japan Environmental Summit and issues-oriented social network; a First Nations native drumming ritual and dance; and the opportunity for attendees to spend a full day experiencing the host city of Barrie, Ontario.

Founded in 1988, iEARN was initially a cooperative effort between schools in the United States and the then-USSR to show students how they could work collaboratively to solve problems. Today the organization boasts chapters in 130 countries, each promoting the power of PBL, teamwork, and collaboration among students. "In every iEARN project," said Gragert, "there has to be a product or event that students can share with the community as a demonstration to show what they learned and what [grew] out of it.

"We want kids to realize that the issues they have a passion for are ones they can achieve when they work with others all over the world," Gragert explained. "The technology has the potential to exponentially magnify the work that any individual student or class is doing. It takes them out of the vacuum of working alone and allows them to see the impact of their work throughout the world."

Those interested in proposing topics for workshops at this ITCYS 2010 have until March 31. The registration deadline for the conference is June 30. Registration and details about workshops, other activities, accommodations, and all conference-related questions are available here.

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.