View from Peru

Impressions and key lessons from an international conference in Lima.

GUEST COLUMN | by Julie Keane 

CREDIT VIF int eduOur 24/7 information age has given us all powerful tools that enable us to create, share, and collaborate on a scale that amplifies innovation and allows it to spread from one corner of the world to another. But it can also hinder us by making it more difficult to find some time to step back from our daily focus and reflect on the rapid change and social impact of new technologies around the globe. It’s easy to lose sight in the course of our daily work that there is a big and vibrant world outside our classroom windows where new and dynamic educational and technological innovations are blooming. It is important that we realize the discourse on education reform is typically U.S. centric. Therefore we must continually work harder to not just incorporate, but meaningfully participate in, global educational approaches and dialogue with international partners.

Given our global educational and multi-cultural mission as an organization, VIF – International Education, the renowned Chapel Hill, NC based organization that strives to support teachers, school leaders and districts in the endeavor of developing globally competent citizens, I wanted to share my perspective as both panelist and attendee of this years’ HASTAC 2014 conference held in Lima, Peru last month. In addition to sharing our raw notes from the four day conference, we wanted to offer insights on the role of global education in supporting innovation.

What’s HASTAC?

HASTAC began in 2002 and is the Duke-based research center for the digital humanities and also the organizer of the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition. The organization continues to flourish, as a respected community comprised of over 400 organizations and 13,000 global educators, humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists, and technologists members who share the same goal to equivalently transform the future of learning. Members have an organized forum to share their specialized expertise along with news, tools, research, insights, and projects, which promote engaged learning for a global society. Issues of access and equality are as important to HASTAC’s mission as the latest technological innovations; creative contribution is as important as critical thinking. 

Why in Lima, Peru?

CREDIT VIF international educationCo-Panelists at HASTAC — Pilar Gonzalez, Researcher, Center for Children and Technology, Julie Keane, Senior Researcher, VIF International, and Jim Diamond, Research Associate, Center for Children and Technology taking in the views of Peru.

The official name for the conference was Hemispheric Pathways: Critical Makers in International Networks, the 6th international conference for the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory (HASTAC).  HASTAC 2014 was hosted by the Ministry of Culture of Lima, Peru, which made this event the first HASTAC conference to be hosted outside of North America! HASTAC was smart to locate this year’s conference in Lima, Peru, which offers such a rich and vibrant place to gather and focus on global thinking.  The overarching theme focused on the global south, and strengthening ties so tech innovation doesn’t just occur in a U.S.-driven vacuum and can be more effectively leveraged in the future. The conference was attended by several other ministers from South and Central America (including Costa Rica) as well as representatives from the Organization of American States.

Why did VIF attend?

For the last 25 years VIF has successfully partnered with districts and schools to prepare global-ready teachers and students. VIF was invited to be on a curated panel with other leaders in the field of digital badging and was curated by David Theo Goldberg, Director of the California Humanities Research Institute. Their goals for attending the conference, designed to bring diverse perspectives and expertise together, was to participate on the panel, present their global ready badging system, and engage with academics, designers, educators and policymakers to critically discuss challenges in current work and opportunities for new collaborations. In addition, I was excited to put on my “reporter hat” and the notes below reflect my impressions from the four-day conference. Enjoy! 

Main conference takeaways

  • Cross institutional collaboration (academia, research organizations, cultural institutions, government, business community, etc.) are critical for social and economic development. Open technology, open learning, open and interoperable platforms (i.e. Internet) make this kind of collaboration and innovation possible and has to be protected as a public benefit.
  • New technologies are being deployed across the Americas by diverse communities to preserve heritage and culture, expand access to educational opportunities, create innovative hubs that spark and sustain economic, social and political development.
  • Critical role of the humanities in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) was a major discussion. Divorcing STEM learning and development initiatives from the disciplinary focus of the humanities disregards the relationship and historical development of technology/science and society thereby preventing rigorous investigation and exploration.  It also undermines development because it ignores the critical role that culture plays in providing the foundation and context for STEM education and future innovation.
  • How can open digital badges undermine the advantages of privilege and create new networks based on competencies and expertise. How can one badge unlock future learning opportunities?  Building diverse skills through initiatives like open badging can push innovation and education access for economic development.
  • Global challenges can only be addressed by cross disciplinary initiatives that bring together science, art, and the humanities. We must cross these boundaries.

We’d encourage you to access the raw notes from the conference along with the main themes, which provides much greater detail on the conference and main topic areas.

Julie Keane, PhD Senior Research Associate, VIF International Education. VIF International Education builds global education programs that prepare students for success in an interconnected world. For more than 25 years, educators have leveraged VIF’s professional development and curriculum, language acquisition and teacher exchange programs to generate engaging learning environments where students can excel in core curriculum as well as develop valuable critical and creative thinking skills. A certified B Corp headquartered in Chapel Hill, N.C., VIF provides a pathway for teachers, schools and districts to become globally designated.

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