In September (Making the Most of Online Events) and November 2013 (Asking the Tough Questions) I participated in a number of conferences and workshops through livestreaming and other online opportunities. Although nothing replaces real life interactions, the online option can allow one to be in more than one place at a time. Last week was again one of those times where I participated in a couple of different events while still in my home office. Here is some of what I learned:

  • The Global Education Conference now in its fifth year,  is held completely online through the Blackboard platform. The conference included round the clock sessions lasting an hour each, facilitated by hundreds of presenters from around the globe. The platform allows written chats among session attendees and oral discussions (if participants’ microphones and connections allow it). Limited video of the main speaker is also sometimes possible.   The sessions I attended ranged from 10-20 people (for breakouts) to 30-40 people (for plenary) participating, and as with in-person sessions the level of interaction varied by the approach of the presenter, and the number of people in the session. Overall the conference has an impressive commitment to global inclusiveness and interaction (using many social media platforms as well as the interaction on the conference platform).
  • I tried to keep my session on Enhancing and Nurturing your Global Competency as interactive as possible, and we had some good discussion among the ~12 people who attended) from 4 countries (with about ½ being more active). The powerpoint from that presentation can be found here.
  • In other sessions I attended some of what I learned included:
    • That the umbrella of “Global Education” is broad ranging from in-class formal curriculum to all kinds of other approaches to child, young adult and adult learning.
    • Many resources such as Oxfam’s Global Citizenship program and the Out of Eden walk can apply to learning across that spectrum.
    • UNESCO (this year) and OECD (2017) have various efforts around identifying Global Competencies. The top 4 of 70 in the UNESCO study are: Vision, Leadership, Integrity, and a Global Mindset.
  • International Civil Society Week –  For the second year CIVICUS combined its World Assembly with a number of other Civil Society meetings for a week in Johannesburg. Although I have attended other CIVICUS meetings in the past  this year I listened in online via social media.  Here is some of what I learned:
    • The more urgency we feel, the more we need to take the time to slow down and consider how to proceed – keynote by Bayo Akomolafe.
    • Perhaps learning from some of the challenges of the Occupy movements, Action 2015 aims ‘to take collective actions next year and to coordinate activities taking place worldwide to have a real impact and to gather as much people as possible’.
    • Generation2030 and Restless Development’s Big Idea aim to intentionally and systematically incorporate more youth voices.
    • “It’s not so much about data – it’s about people” Data shift  is working towards re-conceptualizing how data is gathered and used, and envisions a new global information system for monitoring and shaping sustainable development goals.
    • The inspirational Graça Machel reminded us that we need to create a fusion of vision and practicality “Dreams are powerful…they are what we know is possible, what we can contribute to.”
    • There was some good discussion around the systematic change that is needed in how societal change is funded (i.e. funding collaborative efforts rather than individual organizations, considering ‘fundermediaries’ to better match funders and deliverers). Who will be the funders who will begin to model these changes?

More about International Civil Society Week can be read on the ICSW site and  DEEEP blog

Some common themes of both of these events:

  • Especially in a digital age we need to focus more on slowing down to analyze and thoughtfully consider our next actions.
  • We hear and see based on our own filters. It was a theme of my Global Competency workshop and I see it in how I have been filtering information coming from both of these conferences (as we all do).   For the GEC, I looked at the ‘big picture’ – lessons that apply to all of us (in our organizations – whatever sector we may be from – or as individuals as lifelong learners) not just those who may teach in a specific classroom.   For ICSW, I focused on how big ideas will or can be implemented over time.
  • Learning can come in many ways, sometimes when we least expect it, if we stay open to hearing new ideas.

So here’s to learning that will lead to action – from wherever this learning may come!