Connecting Education Globally

Lucy Gray

Lucy Gray

Connecting globally brings fresh opportunities for idea generation and innovation in the world of education. I’ve witnessed this first hand through my work at various levels, while providing professional development and coaching in schools, serving on the conference committee for my state’s educational technology conference, as an advocate through national and international educators groups, and while facilitating online communities and conferences serving the global education community. One of the drivers of my work has always been the belief that the human race will not solve the complex problems facing our world in isolation; we must learn and work across borders to adapt and innovate together. Everyone has a voice at the table in terms of improving global education efforts and expanding opportunities for humankind.

One of these opportunities is the Education Fast Forward Debate (EFF9), happening in London, for people invested in education to participate in a global education conversation. EFF9  is presenting its ninth debate in conjunction with the Education World Forum (EWF) a global summit for education ministers from around the world. Several presenters will discuss their work in front of a live audience in London and will be joined by EFF fellows and invited special guests via Cisco TelePresence. This live audience will be comprised of fellows, students, and education ministers attending the EWF. The general public is encouraged to participate by viewing the livestream and adding comments to the Twitter backchannel using the hashtag #EFF9. I’ll be connecting via TelePresence from New York City at a very early hour. You won’t catch me taking a catnap, however, because I’m very excited about the opportunity to listen to education’s visionaries.

The two featured presenters will be Ramji Raghavan, founder of India’s Agastya International Foundation, and Vicky Colbert, founder of Colombia’s Escuela Nueva. These two award winning and inspirational educators have experience reaching underserved populations using unconventional and innovative models. The Agastya Foundation brings science to students through a special mobile program and science centers; Escuela Nueva is a student-centered progressive education model, again aimed at the underserved and adopted in more than 40 countries. Incidentally, Ramji keynoted the Global Education STEMx Conference last fall, which I run along with Steve Hargadon. This happened as the result of an introduction by our conference co-chair, Jim Vanides of HP Catalyst Academy. Ramji’s talks always get education attention.

In addition to learning about some innovative education practices, particularly from a non-US perspective, it’s important that practicing educators globally participate in this event, as education ministers need to hear from those implementing policy. Teachers on the ground, doing the hard work every day and trying to make a difference, often feel that leaders do not hear them or understand their situations. This is one opportunity where people at all levels can have an equal voice through various channels and a great model of using technology to cross borders. I would also argue, that practitioners need to understand the bigger picture when it comes to education policy in order place their own work within the current context. Participating in events such at the Education Fast Forward debates will offer opportunities for reflection that ultimately will shape your own education best practices.

About the author: Lucy Gray (@elemenous on Twitter) is currently an education advocate and consultant advising a variety of organizations. Lucy previously taught elementary grade levels in Chicago Public Schools and middle school computer science at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. She also has worked at the University of Chicago’s Urban Education Institute and the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education. In 2007, Lucy founded the Global Education Collaborative, a network for educators interested in collaboration, which has been expanded into the Global Education Conference. Lucy also has received the distinctions of Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Teacher.  For more information about her wide-ranging projects and interests, please visit

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