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Matt Harris: Global Not International

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by Matt Harris
Expert Educator Columnist, Singapore

When I was asked about writing this column, Microsoft asked what unique view or approach could I take to Educational Technology. My frame was one of working in a leadership capacity in an international school. I am not directly tied to a national system or central cultural influence (despite the words German and European in my school’s name). Rather, I work with people and pedagogies from all over the world. I am “international.”

And that is what Ed Tech has become: international. Take the MIE Expert program for example. How many Twitter and Facebook posts have you read that come from people in countries around the world. The Arabic posts alone on the MIE Expert forum on Facebook have me astounded as an English mother tongue speaker. There is enough reach within this community to hold that dialogue in a different language/script/direction and maintain engagement around the world.

However, I found in my work in Ed Tech that this frame of international is false. The term “international” suggests a connection between separated entities. And for Educational Technology that is not true. We are not a combination of parts separated by political or geographic lines, but rather a worldwide community. My colleagues at ISTE and at international schools around the world have started to deprecate this term and replace it with “Global.”

We are a “Global” community that is separated by nothing more than time and language…and even those are minor barriers at this point.

Last night, I was in a MIEExpert15 discussion on Facebook about teacher engagement with technology that included people I had never seen before. Not once in this discussion did it occur to us that country of origin or mother tongue had influence. Rather we spoke the same language of technology enhance learning and the desire to improve our and others practices with students. We did outside of time and space and spoke together as global community.

Look at the collaborative interactions MIE Experts are having through Sway, Skype, and OneNote and even the upcoming Global Exchange in Redmond. These are examples of the universal nature of what we do. We use technology and we are educators. If you meet those criteria (and you live somewhere on the globe) you are part of the community.

As there are so few barriers to connecting with each other, we have to draw upon this shared expertise to help our organizations. I cannot tell you how many times I talk to teachers in our school who can only think about Singapore or the IB. I have a very clear memory of a discussion with a Ministry of Education that had not looked outside their own country to establish norms and processes around technology infused learning.

The real tragedy here is that our students understand the tenet of “Global” more than even we do.

Therefore it’s critical that we as Educational Technologists, be it in leadership roles or doing this as a hobby, engage in the global community and draw others in. Keep posting online, sharing your thoughts, connecting with other schools, presenting at conferences, writing blog posts, sharing with the MIE community, and giving feedback to Microsoft. We are global and we are strong.

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