The Connect All Schools Initiative has an ambitious goal: To lInk all schools internationally by 2016. The campaign has been months in the making, although it officially launched March 19 at the Celebration of Teaching and Learning, a professional development conference that brought together nearly 10,000 educators. The overarching objective is for schools to reach out to students in other countries to collaborate on projects, discuss global issues, and learn with each other—not simply about each other. It is an initiative by the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) and is currently supported by over 85 educational and international organizations.
"We want to show that there are different ways schools can bring the world youth programs at the into their classroom," says Ed Gragert, executive director of iEARN. Connect All Schools is his brainchild.
The campaign's Web site will act as a hub for teachers to share their stories to explain what they did with their students and how it impacted school achievement. For instance, students from Fitchburg (Mass.) high School hosted german students through the Sister Cities International organization. The organizations associated with Connect All Schools, including the U.S. Department of Education and the Asia Society, are available to support teachers and develop an international approach that fits their classroom.
Timothy Magner, executive director of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, believes the goal of connecting all schools by 2016 is attainable.
"I think the time has clearly come. We know that, essentially, every school is connected to the Internet. With this platform, this goal is a reality. There is an opportunity and an obligation to be connected with the world."