5 Reasons to be Hopeful About Education’s Future

If you’re as passionate about improving education as we are, chances are you’ve had moments of discouragement, too.  However, lately, we’ve come across several campaigns that had us smiling. We thought we’d pass on the optimism to remind us all that positive change in education happens every day–and to let you know how you can take part!

#1: XPrize’s Competition for Global Learning

This competition with the chance to win $15 million–and the chance to dramatically alter the lives of millions of children worldwide–is currently under way.  Teams register with the goal to develop “open source scalable software solution that will enable children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing, and arithmetic within the 18 month competition field-testing period.”

How you can help:  Download the kit. Spread the word (#LearningPrize). You can even compete!  Teams need to register and submit a $500 fee by March 31st.

#2: LitWorld’s Growing Impact on Children’s Ability to Tell Their Stories

Ever since a LitLife National Team Leader, Debbie Lera, came to train our school staff on reading and writing workshops, I have been passionate about exploring ever-greater possibilities in children’s literacy.  So I was delighted to discover their non-profit organization, LitWorld, and its efforts to “empower young people to author lives of independence, hope, and joy.”  Working both in the US and internationally, LitWorld is making headway in addressing global illiteracy, launching initiatives like World Read Aloud Day, LitClubs, 10,000 Global Girls, and more.

How you can help: Donate by check, online, crowdfunding, or matching.  Support their programs such as #StandUp4Girls by sharing on social media or by hosting a Story Summit.  Oh, and read to your kids!

#3: FutureReadySchools’ Pledge for Superintendents

In October 2014, the U.S. Department of Education developed The Future Ready District Pledge for superintendents to commit to enhancing digital learning, as well as to offer them support in return.  The pledge includes the following:

  • Fostering and leading a culture of digital learning within our schools
  • Helping schools and families transition to high-speed connectivity
  • Empowering educators through professional learning opportunities
  • Accelerating progress toward universal access for all students to quality devices
  • Providing access to quality digital content
  • Offering digital tools to help students and families #ReachHigher
  • Mentoring other districts and helping them transition to digital learning

How you can help: Share the pledge with your district’s superintendent. Follow @FutureReady on Twitter!

#4: School In the Cloud’s Investigation into Student Organized Learning Environments (SOLE’s)

In his 2013 TED Prize-winning talk, “Build a School in the Cloud,” Sugata Mitra shared his Hole in the Wall research that reveals the possibility of children everywhere teaching themselves anything if they but have Internet access.  Since then, several School in the Cloud labs have opened and are further collecting data on this fascinating prospect.  Additionally, Skype “Grannies” all over the world volunteer to support SOLE’s, or Self-Organized Learning Environments.

How you can help: Create an account to view SOLE’s in action!  Then create your own SOLE (a detailed Toolkit gives excellent direction to get you started with a group of at least 4 students–and if you’re a teacher, you’ll love the guidelines for asking “BIG questions”), or volunteer to support an existing SOLE as a Skype Granny. Use the hashtag #TEDSOLE to share your experiences.

#5: The Growing Force of Teachers on Twitter

The last bit of optimism lies in our favorite platform for DIY professional development: Twitter.  A continually growing global community of teachers are willing to share resources, lend perspective, and brainstorm solutions.  A few minutes of TweetDeck-surfing your favorite hashtags can be a window into how many other teachers are committed to a better educational future–just like you!

How you can help: Participate in Twitter Chats. Get your colleagues to sign up. Search out and share the best resources.

Remember, as Barry Saide (@BarryKid1) summarized in a recent Education Week webinar:

“…Sometimes we get so glued on the product that we don’t realize that every day, we’re just chipping away to make it a little bit better.”  You can be part of the change that is happening every day!

 

Photo Credit: DeathtotheStockPhoto

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Mary Wade

I taught 5th grade at a PYP International Baccalaureate school in Utah for 4 years, and am currently on extended parental leave until my kids start school. In between the roller-coaster adventures of motherhood, I enjoy educational blogging so I can stay in the loop and keep learning! Snapshot favorites: Student voice & choice. Twix bars. Global classrooms. Calvin & Hobbes. Outlandish sewing projects. Teachers learning from teachers. Modeling daring to students.

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