zaterdag 7 juli 2012

EMEA SEE Summit vs. NA SEE Summit

This blog post is about my experience coordinating and attending the SEE Summit in EMEA. This is also posted on the ED Compass, the official blog for SMART educators. I was ask do post a blog and here it is.

The first EMEA SMART Exemplary Educator Summit, which took place last week in Hamburg, Germany, was great. Three days of great fun and learning, and sharing lots of things. There were teachers from 18 different countries in attendance and a few SEEs from Canada and the US were there as ambassadors. 
Last year I was invited to the third North American SEE Summit in Calgary, Canada, with five others SEEs from Europe. One of the goals of our participation at the NA Summit was to have a look at the way it was done, pick the best parts of it and make it fit for the EMEA Summit. EMEA stands for Europe, Middle East and Africa so it makes it difficult to organize something that’ll be suitable for that whole area because of the cultural differences and different educational systems.
This past year, with the use of Brigit conferencing software, me and the other European SEEs who attended the NA SEE Summit in 2011 had five or six meetings with Khoi Trinh, SMART’s Education Policy Manager in EMEA, and later with Ainhoa Marcos, SMART’s Education Programs Manager in EMEA to discuss what we wanted the EMEA SEE Summit to look like. 
We needed to choose a program pathway so I chose peer education and content creation. I wanted to prepare a presentation on social media, along with something I learned about in 2008 at a SMART conference in Stockholm, Sweden,about the use of tools (both technology and non-technology tools) in and outside the classroom to get to that main goal. My presentation, Curriculum vs. Creativity, was about being creative using tools that didn’t include the text books we used every year. There are other, better ways to get to that same goal, and engaging students more to the curriculum.. 
I had the SEEs do a SMART Response question set by Jamie McGachy (SCT and EC from the United Kingdom), to teach them how to count to 10 in Japanese. I wanted to show them that along with reading, listening and motion can also help you to learn in a different (and in some cases, faster and better) way. 
I did the presentation about social media with Geoff Robin, SMART’s Team Lead of Web Marketing in EMEA. We discussed the Facebook community for SEEs and I talked about the way I use Twitter in and outside my classroom. I added a SMART Response quiz in both presentations and brought many prizes like flash drives, t-shirts and orange SMART sunglasses for the participants.
In the end, the NA summit and the EMEA summit weren’t that different. But what did stand out was the fact that at the NA Summit, other than a few SEEs from EMEA, the attendees are all from North America. The EMEA version of the Summit has SEEs from all over Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and that definitely distinguishes the SEE Summits.. We all needed to communicate in one common language – English, which can make it hard for a few attendees and it takes a bit of nerve for everyone to speak up. This was particularly noticable on the first day. Byt after that we were good to go!
When there’s a language barrier like that it takes a lot of effort and concentration from everyone to stay focussed on what we are doing. So, I think the three-day Summit was the right amount of time.
The SMART staff did a great job, from my perspective, integrating attendees into different groups each day, Unfortunately the internet connection at the SMART Office in Hamburg was not great, which created a few challenges uploading our best practises or getting on Twitter to tweet about this Summit. 
After the SEE Summit in Calgary last year, I made notes on things to consider doing, or doing different for the EMEA Summit. And, I’m grateful that most of those things were included in this Summit. We worked very good as a planning team to coordinate this Summit. What I especially liked about the EMEA SEE Summit, in comparison with the NA Summit, is that we could share a lot of best practises and collaborate in smaller groups.
This one was not as overwhelming as the one I attended last year in Calgary, Canada, because I prepared the agenda and Germany is not that different and/or epic for me as Calgary was. I’ve experienced it as a very inspirational event and would not want to miss out any SMART Exemplary Educators event in the future. 


The original post is here on the ED Compass Blog.

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