DeforestACTION had a great showcase at ISTE 2012 in San Diego! We were honoured to have ISTE as a collaborative partner of the project, supporting promotion and outreach through their educational networks. During the conference, we engaged with educators from around the world through our display at the TakingITGlobal partner booth, by sharing our work at the DeforestACTION poster session and by hearing from DeforestACTION educator Chris Gauthier during the TakingITGlobal panel (for pictures, check out Kate’s blog!)
Here is a photo of the DeforestACTION team at ISTE! From L-R: Sara Hassan, Chris Gauthier, Dr. Willie Smits and Liza Heavener
This Saturday, July 28th, 2012 marks World Hepatitis Day [WHD]. This initiative began in 2008 by the World Health Assembly and it is presently coordinated by the World Hepatitis Alliance, an international non-governmental organization that represents patients globally. The theme of this year’s WHD is “It’s Closer Thank You Think”, an alarming statement which encompasses the gravity of the disease. It is often called the silent disease, because most people don’t get diagnosed at the correct time. Currently, 1 out of 12 people live with chronic hepatitis virus, a value which is higher than people infected with HIV or cancer. Over 500 million all over the world are suffering from hepatitis. Thus, the main aim for the WHD is to spread awareness and make people knowledgeable about the disease, on how it can be contracted, and associated prevention and screening methods. Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver and can be caused by a broad range of things. While there are five types of such viruses, A B, C, D, and E, Hepatitis B and C are the most predominant and perilous. Collectively, they take lives of approximately one million people per year.
One of the key mandates of the World Hepatitis Alliance is to increase Hepatitis B vaccine coverage and propagate its incorporation into the national immunization programs. The organization operates to coordinate a global response to improve public health in this sector. The World Health Organization passed a resolution which establishes a concrete framework that works effectively to bring awareness, diagnosis and treatment for patients infected with hepatitis.
This year, the World Hepatitis Alliance is attempting a Guinness World Record. They hope to have an enormous group of participants around the world to perform their “See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil” action. This gesture is meant to emphasize the fact that hepatitis is a problem that is being ignored around the world.
The designation of such days displays the importance of public health education because awareness is the first step towards prevention.
The stress of final exams is looming over my head and I am trying my best to cope with it. It all comes down to crunch time, where, in that span of one or two hours, you have to prove that you have absorbed the material taught in class over the past year like a sponge. Very appropriate to my present circumstances, I came across a video by Sir Ken Robinson which opened my eyes to the relationship between creativity and our education system. Robinson is a world renowned author and an international advisor on education. He has been propagating the need to reform the public education system. In arguing his stance, he provides a captivating history of the system, that we have come to take for granted. At the age of 5 or 6 years, we are enrolled into kindergarten, start learning our ABC’s, and move on to a higher grade every year, with the subjects progressively getting more difficult. It was only in the mid 19th century, that the public education system was formed, where the institution was funded by taxes and made compulsory for the kids. The motive of which was two-fold, economic and cultural; to educate and prepare the next generation for the workplace in the context of the industrial revolution, and also to provide a cultural identity amid the movement of enlightenment. Robinson disputes that times have definitely changed, in the sense, that a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily a promised ticket to a job anymore, and with the wave of globalisation, the world as we know has shrunk and altered cultural identities. Therefore, he brings to the table the over-arching question, which is that, is the education system functioning effectively?
Moreover, people are different – they think differently, and have varied styles of learning which the education model does not necessarily take into consideration, as it compares intelligence level through standardized tests. Robinson mentions that the education model is analogous to factory lines, where children are treated as commodities, and divided by their manufacturing dates, which places limitations on their learning and the number of people they interact with. Most learning happens in groups, through collaboration where people pool in ideas, resources, and differentiated abilities to create solutions or invent something. For instance, in the corporate world, team building and team work is an essential skill, because an individual is expected to work effectively with others. Such abilities need to be encouraged by the system instead of promoting disjunction between classes. Creativity is the core of human ability, a quality that should be honed and nurtured, instead, Robinson says it is being squashed. Divergent thinking, which is defined as the capacity for creativity, an ability that allows people to have a multidimensional view of the world, needs to be sharpened rather than promoting convergent thinking. Robinson speaks of a study that was done with a group of kindergarten students, 98 percent of whom displayed high level of divergent thinking at a younger age. As they grew, the number of students demonstrating the same level of divergent thinking also decreased, thus indicating that this is an innate human capacity that deteriorates as students go through the education system.
Robinson’s talk made me think of my own experiences as well. When I came to Canada, I found the education system to be very different from my schooling in India. While the latter had a very rigorous education system, where I was learning subjects like Chemistry and Physics in just grade 7, I found it a bit difficult to transition into the Canadian system. This was not due to the subject matter but more so because of the type of work that was expected of students. I can think of pros and cons of the education models for both countries. But I agree with Robinson when he says that a reform in the public education model is required. I highly suggest that if you have some time and are interested in this topic, you should check out some of his videos.
Immediately following our trip to San Diego, Sara and I headed to the Big Apple for another great event: The Asia Society’s Partnership for Global Learning conference. It was TIGed’s first time at this conference, but we hope to attend in years to come. Check out the fabulous speakers that keynoted the event, including our friends Lucy Gray and Steve Hargadon, co-chairs of our one our favourite annual virtual conferences, The Global Education Conference, which takes place annually in November.
TIGed hosted a workshop to demonstrate the educational resources on our site, which was well-received by an engaged crowd of educators and administrators. We also had a booth - here's a photo of me and Sara there.
We attended a number of excellent workshops at the conference, including ones given by Asia Society's Honor Moorman, Flat Classroom's Julie Lindsay, and World Savvy's Charmagne Campbell-Patton. Thanks to everyone who spent time with us - we learned a lot from you!
What an incredible week! ISTE always draws a phenomenal crowd of wonderful educators, administrators, techies, and people hungry for new knowledge and tools for their practice. This year was no exception – the conference in San Diego was a great success, and we learned a ton. This year, TIG was honored to host a partner booth in the beautiful Sails Pavilion of the San Diego Convention Centre. Here’s a photo of me and Sara having a great time with our good friends Jim and Mali at the booth.
We also held four poster sessions. These sessions are always great because of the high volume of attendees passing through who are interested in learning more about our programs.
Chris and Sara at the DeforestACTION poster session
Kate at the Shout poster session
JC at the TIG Games poster session
Jennifer at the Tread Lightly poster session
In addition to these poster sessions, we also hosted a 3-hour hand-on workshop to demonstrate some of the tools on our website, and a panel presentation with 4 educators in our various programs. It was absolutely wonderful to hear from these engaging individuals about tangible student outcomes and future plans. Here is a photo of me and Sara with the panelists, Mali, Dennis, JC and Chris.
Finally, it was a great honor for our program DeforestACTION to be the highlight of the closing keynote. Stay tuned for another blog from DeforestACTION Program Coordinator Sara, for another blog on this momentous event!