Lucy Gray Interview: New EFF Fellow

Lucy Gray

Lucy Gray EFF Fellow

Connect Learning Today caught up with Lucy Gray, a long time educator, based in Chicago, IL. Today, Lucy works all over the world—virtually. Connect Learning Today first met Lucy through the EFF Debates (Education Fast Forward), where she has been an active participant. Part of this interview will share her new role, as Education Fast Forward Fellow. This is a rare honor; great for the education world, and especially wonderful for the United States, now with a representative in a leadership role at these global education debates.

Lucy does innovation coaching in schools helping public and private schools develop cultures for innovation, also to get them acclimated to mobile learning. Lucy works with Steve Hargadon on a couple of initiatives as well. One is a STEM Conference that happens every September as a virtual event, and another is the Global Education Conference, which has been extremely important to her. Lucy works in schools and with teachers, and tries to connect educators across boarders through virtual conferences.

Connect Learning Today: Lucy, tell us a bit about how you became interested in looking at education in a global way.

Lucy Gray: In 2006, I was an Apple Distinguished Educator when Apple decided to take us on the road—to Europe. As ADEs we immersed ourselves in the cultures and wrote some really good global awareness curriculum. It occurred to me, even then, that we weren’t leveraging the technology at our disposal to connect classrooms. At that time it was iChat and Skype. I thought there should be more of that going on.

Connect Learning Today: You discovered the value of teacher communities early on. Can you tell us what sparked that direction?

Lucy Gray: About a year later, Steve Hargadon started using Ning for a website platform that connected teachers on emerging technologies. That was known as Classroom 2.0, which now has over 70,000 members, but at the start, within the first month or two, it had 13,000 members. That astounded me that you could grab teachers’ attention and have a place for collaboration. To me, it seemed like it was the right time for a thing like it to happen—a community to develop supported by technology.

Connect Learning Today: How does that play into your global education goals?

Lucy Gray: So, based on that Apple trip to Europe and Steve’s use of Ning, which was free for educators at the time, I decided to start a community for global connections. A of couple years later Steve asked me what we might be able to do together with our communities. So we started the Global Education Conference. We had over 400 sessions online during International Education Week. It went smoothly and it was empowering. I remember our closing session for that very first conference week. People talking and crying about stories they had heard—and were moved to action. It was such a joyful experience—virtually. At that time, the idea that technology would dehumanize was replaced with the joy that technology could bring—by bring the stories of others to the world. This year, we’re celebrating our fifth year of the conference; it gets better and better. Many friends and colleagues in various parts of edtech and beyond have come to keynote for us, and many teachers have come to share what they’re doing in the classroom every day. It’s just thrilling. All the sessions are archived and available beyond the conference week. They serve as continuing professional development resource.

Connect Learning Today: How did you first become involved with Education Fast Forward and the EFF Debates?

Lucy Gray: Around 2012 I was doing some work for Cisco and was introduced to people at Promethean and Jim Wynn, Promethean Education Strategist, who talked about something called Education Fast Forward and the EFF Debates. Along about that time I was also working with CoSN and met Gavin Dykes, an EFF Fellow, through this organization as well. Later, Steve Hargadon and I further talked with Gavin at the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report Summit in Texas. Everyone was there who had worked on a report. So I became aware of EFF (Education Fast Forward) through Gavin Dykes. He invited me to take part in the first EFF Debate. I’ve participated in 3 up to this point. It’s an opportunity to truly work across borders.

Connect Learning Today: Global projects aren’t new to teachers. Is there a larger global view for educators?

Lucy Gray: I see, every day, teachers doing global projects with their students, and with other classrooms. That’s more common in my world. What I don’t see are all the elements of education coming together—the practitioners, the policy makers, and the leaders. We’re all in this—education—together, and no one group is wiser than another. So at EFF you can learn from an expert, and hear others involved weigh in as well. And you get perspectives that are not just U. S. centric.  It’s really important for people in the U. S. to get a grasp of what others are thinking.

Connect Learning Today: What’s next?

Lucy Gray: I’m really excited to continue my involvement with these debates and seeing what experts come to the debate table from all over the world and on telepresence. I really liked the last debate, EFF 9, with Michael Fullan. I’m a big fan of his. He represents my more progressive, supportive education views. I’m looking forward to the next—EFF10 Debate—in my new role as fellow.

Connect Learning Today: Yes, that’s very exciting. You’ve just found out about the fellowship. Please share.

Lucy Gray: The fellowship was a complete surprise to me. I wanted to participate in these debates because they are exciting, and I love the technology that’s used in it, and I want to model for others how you can leverage technology to communicate and collaborate. When I was invited to become a fellow, I was stunned, because when you look at the roster of the 30 or so people, who are fellows, they’re pretty distinguished people. I do what I do, because I love what I do, I’m an educator, and the others have so many more accolades—so I hope I’m worthy of this. I’m thrilled and honored to be part of this community. I hope I can learn from them, and I hope they can learn from me as well.

Connect Learning Today: Lucy, you are a great choice for the fellowship, and I wouldn’t worry about your value. Jim Wynn and Gavin Dykes usually moderate these EFF Debates. They will certainly need your expertise and help. Are there any final thoughts?

Lucy Gray: Jim Wynn, Promethean’s education leader gets this, his background is teaching. No wonder EFF is a success. I think, too, that corporations have an obligation—a corporate-social responsibility to facilitate conversations that will improve education. They have the power and the means to bring people together in interesting and creative ways. I’m looking forward to publicizing this work even more—possibly contributing to your blog, participating in the debates, or just letting people know about EFF, as well as sharing the recordings of the debates, which are a great resource. I hope that I can further bring attention to what sparks this initiative.

Connect Learning Today: Thanks for taking the time today Lucy. And you’re always welcome to post something at Connect Learning Today.

More about Lucy Gray: Lucy Gray (@elemenous on Twitter) is an EFF Fellow. She currently is 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

Ken Royal

Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is an Education storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.
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