Revolutionizing Education and Learning Through Technology

Posted by Isaiah Joo
November 15, 2013
The Office of eDiplomacy Hosts Tech@State: EdTech

This week, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Education, and educators around the world are celebrating International Education Week and how studying in another country and learning about the world can transform lives. 

On November 1, the Office of eDiplomacy hosted Tech@State: EdTech, which explored how technology is expanding educational opportunity around the world.  The event, held on the campus of George Washington University, explored the revolutionary changes that technology has brought to education and how those changes can enhance diplomacy and offer educational opportunities around the world.

Highlights from the day included a robot from VGo that virtually connected with locals at the Nicaraguan-North American Binational Center, allowing them to interact with conference participants.  This technology offers new possibilities for remote participation and cultural exchanges.  Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan announced two exciting education initiatives from the State Department.  First, she announced the State Department’s new MOOC Camp initiative and our partnership with online education provider Coursera to expand learning opportunities worldwide through massive open online courses (MOOCs).  Her second announcement was to launch a new initiative called The Collaboratory, a platform for conducting virtual exchange programs, as well as an idea lab to develop, incubate, and pilot new ideas that amplify people-to-people educational and cultural exchanges using new technologies.  

The two keynote speakers for Tech@State were Lila Ibrahim, President of Coursera, and John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design.  Ibrahim discussed both the need and potential of MOOCs, noting the rise in MOOC participants around the world and the way that blending online education with in-person facilitation can transform digital communities into physical ones.  In his afternoon keynote address, Maeda challenged the audience’s perception of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education and argued for its expansion to STEAM by adding in art.  Art and design, he said, will drive innovation in the 21st century.

Panelists and participants also discussed the use of mobile technology for education; virtual classrooms; open education resources; using games for learning; and providing equal access to education for disenfranchised minorities, including women and girls, as well as for people with disabilities.  In a series of highly engaging “Ignite” sessions, presenters discussed new and innovative technologies.  Highlights included three State Department initiatives: the Foreign Service Institute’s new language learning mobile application, the Office of eDiplomay’s Virtual Student Foreign Service Program, and the Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Civil Society and Emerging Democracies’ Diplomacy Lab.  

Most sessions from the conference, including the opening and closing keynote remarks, are available for online viewing. To learn more, please watch the proceedings from Tech@State: EdTech here! Comments regarding the Tech@State: EdTech Diplomacy conference and the topics discussed are most welcome.

Tech@State, a component of the State Department’s 21st Century Statecraft Initiative, is a series of quarterly conferences, curated and run by the Office of eDiplomacy in the State Department's Bureau of Information Resource Management.

Designed to connect technologists to the goals of U.S. diplomacy and development through physical and virtual networks, Tech@State brings together leaders, innovators, U.S. diplomats, other government personnel and academics for a two-day interactive deep-dive to explore ways to incorporate new technologies and tools into diplomacy and development. Learn more about the Tech@State series by visiting our website and following @techATstate on Twitter.

About the Author: Isaiah Joo serves in the Bureau of Information Resource Management’s Office of eDiplomacy.

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