WISE Qatar – Doha Diaries 3 – A Call to Action?

WISE 2009 has drawn to a close and I have hardly had a moment to sit and reflect on the some of the amazing sessions and ideas that have been discussed. I intend to spend some time writing up my notes beyond the live Tweeting I did.

The event closed with a final gathering of the 1000 participants and Dr Abdullah the Chairman of the Qatar Foundation offered not only some final sentiments but a set of declarations.

Throughout the series of plenary and breakout sessions, we have been listening very closely to the contributions and the key concerns of the participants with a firm commitment to move from debate to concrete outcomes. The identification of 10 strategic priorities is a milestone as it represents a convergence among global educational leaders on the key issues that will affect and shape education in the 21st century.

WISE Logo

The 10 strategic priorities declared at the Summit were:

  1. Access to ‘quality’ education
  2. A fully integrated approach
  3. Global citizenship
  4. Education embedded in the local community
  5. Protecting education and educators
  6. Reconciliation
  7. ‘WISE pioneers’ to monitor progress
  8. Innovating new ways to learn
  9. Pursuing sustainable development
  10. A future built on multi-stakeholder partnership

WISE also refined how it will contribute to drive educational changes in the future.

  • WISE will be an agenda-setting forum which will define areas requiring actions across all sectors of education and will seek involvement of appropriate partners.
  • WISE will promote innovative practices, methodologies and partnerships, making best use of modern technology.
  • WISE will seek to build on the momentum of the inaugural summit to inform public opinion and put education as a priority on the political, social and economic agenda.

The identification of these 10 priorities is a first step. They are fairly predictable and I will be expanding on some of them in the coming weeks in some further blog posts about my experiences. The challenge of changing the face of education worldwide is sometimes too big an issue for me to grapple with. But I think grass roots efforts need to be listened to, amplified and supported. I hope that WISE can help amplify the story of my classroom of the innovation in your classroom or school. It is action we want not just more declarations and talk.

This information is not currently in a form to discuss and comment online, so here is our chance – have your say!

What are your reactions to the 10 declarations? Which is the most important to your setting? And what do you make of the role WISE has outlined to drive future educational changes? What measure of impact would you like to see from the WISE group that is relevant and real to you and your institution?

  1. Tom, excellent discussion happening here, thanks for starting this. I have been searching the WISE website for a discussion forum but there is nothing happening yet. A Word doc press release is available from here http://www.digitalnewsroom.co.uk/wise09/closing… but it contains no extended details apart from what you have already told us. My concern is that this is a top-down approach to educational change and also that K-12 education was not well represented at WISE. As you know we saw, heard and met people more from the research, independent organisation and tertiary levels rather than from the K-12 areas. As you also may agree with me the most radical transformation in education is starting to happen at this level in isolated areas. This is something WISE organisers need to acknowledge and support further, as they have done by inviting some us to Doha.
    In terms of the 10 priorities, I tend to agree these could be the outcome of any top quality education conference in the 21st century however I think they take a very global view and are not specific to one system, organisation or country. This IS a chance to really focus on the needs of education GLOBALLY. #5 for example came out of discussions about making education available to all and looking at the many situations around the world where minority groups are not allowed access (ties in with #1 as well). I am focusing on #3 as an immediate 'take-away' I can share with my school here in Beijing. As an IB school we talk a lot about what it means to be a global citizen, however even though we are an international school I do not believe we are truly addressing this idea/need and taking advantage of emerging technologies to connect, communicate and collaborate with a view to understanding the world more fully. This is something EVERY school must be talking about. Learning is not in isolation anymore. Connections with other classrooms, educators etc must become the norm and embedded into the curriculum, rather than a novelty and something one teacher in a school does independently.
    Re the comment to this post about governments and profits and education for the masses taken out of the hands of grass roots movements…..well, once again let's look at this from a global persepctive and not just a western viewpoint. There are countries taking an holistic view to educational development and implementing (or considering implementing) initiatives based on recent grass roots developments. The Omani government for example are considering how a country-wide 'flat classroom project' or similar initiative could be implemented and how all teachers and students could fast-track into a global mode of working. The Jordanian government have a progressive view on education, as do the Qatari. These countries, amongst many others, have the opportunity to bypass the past 10-15 years of online learning and mobile computing development in more developed education systems to now take advantage of enhanced connection and better tools along with proven pedagogy.
    My hope is that WISE opens it's website to formal discussion and continued input from participants. Those who contribute in a meaningful way and continue the discussions with a view to finding solutions are the people who deserve to attend WISE in 2010 (in my humble opinion). But here we are now waiting from something to happen. One of the sessions we attended I spoke to a person on the panel and said I wanted to be on the 'committee' or whatever they formed to take this further, but my name and details were not taken…..so how can they find me? I will find them if given an opportunity!

  2. Tom, excellent discussion happening here, thanks for starting this. I have been searching the WISE website for a discussion forum but there is nothing happening yet. A Word doc press release is available from here http://www.digitalnewsroom.co.uk/wise09/closing… but it contains no extended details apart from what you have already told us. My concern is that this is a top-down approach to educational change and also that K-12 education was not well represented at WISE. As you know we saw, heard and met people more from the research, independent organisation and tertiary levels rather than from the K-12 areas. As you also may agree with me the most radical transformation in education is starting to happen at this level in isolated areas. This is something WISE organisers need to acknowledge and support further, as they have done by inviting some us to Doha.
    In terms of the 10 priorities, I tend to agree these could be the outcome of any top quality education conference in the 21st century however I think they take a very global view and are not specific to one system, organisation or country. This IS a chance to really focus on the needs of education GLOBALLY. #5 for example came out of discussions about making education available to all and looking at the many situations around the world where minority groups are not allowed access (ties in with #1 as well). I am focusing on #3 as an immediate 'take-away' I can share with my school here in Beijing. As an IB school we talk a lot about what it means to be a global citizen, however even though we are an international school I do not believe we are truly addressing this idea/need and taking advantage of emerging technologies to connect, communicate and collaborate with a view to understanding the world more fully. This is something EVERY school must be talking about. Learning is not in isolation anymore. Connections with other classrooms, educators etc must become the norm and embedded into the curriculum, rather than a novelty and something one teacher in a school does independently.
    Re the comment to this post about governments and profits and education for the masses taken out of the hands of grass roots movements…..well, once again let's look at this from a global persepctive and not just a western viewpoint. There are countries taking an holistic view to educational development and implementing (or considering implementing) initiatives based on recent grass roots developments. The Omani government for example are considering how a country-wide 'flat classroom project' or similar initiative could be implemented and how all teachers and students could fast-track into a global mode of working. The Jordanian government have a progressive view on education, as do the Qatari. These countries, amongst many others, have the opportunity to bypass the past 10-15 years of online learning and mobile computing development in more developed education systems to now take advantage of enhanced connection and better tools along with proven pedagogy.
    My hope is that WISE opens it's website to formal discussion and continued input from participants. Those who contribute in a meaningful way and continue the discussions with a view to finding solutions are the people who deserve to attend WISE in 2010 (in my humble opinion). But here we are now waiting from something to happen. One of the sessions we attended I spoke to a person on the panel and said I wanted to be on the 'committee' or whatever they formed to take this further, but my name and details were not taken…..so how can they find me? I will find them if given an opportunity!

  3. I would have thought a logical followup to establish an online community to connect a WISE community; otherwise, events like this are single blips in the sea. And I found it ironic, from a comment on my site, that a month earlier, there was a rather similar event in Bahrain
    http://www.educationprojectbahrain.org/

    Gotta connect, connect, connect.

  4. Perhaps these might be outcomes of 2,5 and 8 -Access to technology. A curriculum that uses technology as a tool in every subject. Communication. Collaboration.

    As has been pointed out by others, these aims as listed above are to be worked at well above the chalkface. As you pointed out in your wordle notes, student needs to be largest, closely followed by teacher and empowered.

    Thanks for your notes.

  5. Tom, I wasn't there (wish I was!) but they sound like the output from every conference ever. The problem is that – and I'm not sure those who tread the conference circuit realise this – phrases such as 'A future built on multi-stakeholder partnership' mean *absolutely nothing* to those in the classroom, at the 'chalkface'.

    This disconnect is a reason why we've still got very traditional teaching and learning going on in the majority of classrooms in the western world. It would seem that the WISE conference was as much about raising the status of Qatar than about actually effecting educational change.

    Am I wrong?

  6. For me, no 4 (education embedded in the local community) is key – it may be a failure of imagination on my part, but several of the other strategic priorities sound like either uncontentious slogans or are so vague as to elude any clarity as to what they mean.

    However, I strongly believe in the value of education embedded in the local community. It echoes (for someone of my advanced years) the '70s slogan of global activism and change – which is after all one of the goals of 21st century education that has been brought to new levels of potential through current technological and communication developments – that is rooted in local realities. We need to discover the resources and diversity of that which is close to us. One example: taking groups of children out to discover the different cultural groups that exist within their locale, seeing shops, places of worship, community centres, etc, and taking geotagged photos of these, and then importing these to Google Earth to help children share their”discoveries” with other groups and see how they are all part of the area of which they live.

    For me as a special educator, too, it reminds me that education has to equip children for life – and for most children, especially those with major learning or physical disabilities, that life is likely to remain within their local communities. They must first learn how to function and play a valuable, contributing role within their local community. What we can do to expand children's horizons in this context is to make links between our local communities and those in other societies, effecting change locally by learning about and importing to our local community the richness and diversity of human society around the planet. ICT has a revolutionary potential in this goal.

  7. You haven't misunderstood Peter, you are absolutely on the money! Unless governments sign up to change it is questionable what can really happen. Partnerships and projects will spring up but will we be effected by top-down change? Unlikely. Maybe WISE can help to tell our stories and shout them out even louder.

  8. Thanks Julia – yes it is a positive step for all. There were many government officials from other countries, as Joga5 has mentioned the real opportunity for change is in their hands. So what does WISE become other than a pressure group? I want WISE to listen to the stories of innovative change taking place and to help amplify those projects. They have begun with the WISE Laureates (which were incredibly inspiring) but it is crucial that the bigger lessons are highlighted, so it goes from just being an inspiring story to something that can help innovate and address issues on a local level.

  9. I think the opportunity of setting out what can be done in the next 12 months was missed. I agree action points should have been set and then addressed in 2010. Without action it will be another conference echoing the same issues – do you think WISE could grow in momentum and reputation to effect real education change? Which countries do you think will benefit most from WISE?

  10. One of the declarations is WISE Pioneers. They stated that these people will
    keep track of progress over the next year or so. I am as keen as you are to
    see feasible developments that matter. You are probably right about the G8
    control, there were government representatives from some countries at WISE.
    I want to see more made of the stories of change and innovation from around
    the world. WISE may not change whole education systems or shift government
    policy (I think we all hope it could) but perhaps the forum will provide an
    amplified back-channel about educational innovation. One that as it matures
    should build pressure.

  11. Think the 10 priorities are impressive ideological statements but I fear that 'a fully integrated approach' will prove unrealistic in practice (depending on exactly what is meant by it!) Would love to be wrong. In the Uk with LEA's being as inherently insular as they are with schools generally following that pattern I think the entire ethos and structural support would need to be rethought. Focusing on collaboration and innovation and the sharing of good practice whilst being learner centred. We need to move away from a competition driven environment (whilst still maintaining accountability) and unfortunately I can't see any Government changes to this in the next decade! How depressing. Guess that means it is the grass roots that needs to augment the changes, using technology to do so.

    I've probably misunderstood what was meant in the statement but thought i'd share that ramble just in case I haven't!

  12. Sounds positive and exciting in commitment to sustainability, commitment to innovation and perhaps especially balance between global citizenship and recognition of the need to embed in local context. I don't know anything about WISE09 beyond the site and your comments; however: where is the public sector and government? Is it a way of pushing private sector interests and ultimately profit before other agendas? I hope not and don't want to sound cynical, just, at this stage, wondering and keeping an open mind.

  13. The ten steps are all fairly uncontroversial and what one would hope would be stated as the priorities of such an event. My fear is that rather like Kyoto and Copenhagen they can only become reality through the intervention and probably control of G8 governments. The fear is that this moves from the event you described to a sterile PR grabbing exercise. For me the importance is how you keep the middle ground ensuring that the three aims for WISE are met but that it is financially feasible. I worry that they are potentially mutually exclusive.

  14. It was important that the WISE summit came up with a final declaration. I'd like to have seen it more specific with some action points But it was a good start. Thanks for blogging – I've been doing some too on my website…and also just put up a link (and recommendation) to yours.

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