Standing on the shoulders of giants – GSN Awards Dinner

The other night (Wednesday, July 5) I had the rare privilege of sharing dinner with an incredibly talented group of teachers from around the world at a beautiful restaurant in Old Town, San Diego. We had been invited there by the board members of Global SchoolNet to celebrate the GSN Teacher award winners for 2006. As a finalist, I shared the table with former award winners, and present award winners Marsha Goren (Israel) and Jennifer Wagner (California). What an opportunity for rich discussion and shared experiences of global collaborative learning!

I had met Jennifer at the Laptop Institute last year and it was a pleasure to renew our acquaintance. She is brilliant and prolific in the school computer lab and will be presenting again this year at Laptop Institute. She was kind enough to loan me her power supply for my Dell laptop for an afternoon – a lifesaver! Hopefully we will keep in touch in the future!
I sat next to Yvonne Andrés, president and CEO of the Global SchoolNet Foundation who has been a pioneer in computer exchanges since the early 1980s. Sitting across from me, was Karen Eini from Israel; she is the powerhouse who created the Friends and Flags program several years ago. Karen was born and raised in Montréal and will be there next week so we are arranging a meeting to discuss possible collaboration in the future (I hope). She is very inspiring in her passion and dedication to her project.

Many inspiring stories of computer and Internet collaboration were represented that night, but perhaps the most inspiring was that of Harry Konnor Tetteh who was also present at the dinner. Harry was visiting San Diego from Ghana – West Africa. He had been the coach to the GSN CyberFair entry (silver medallist), Arts of Music. The school in Ghana did not have Internet access so Harry travelled a number of miles from the school to an Internet cafe where he would upload the research the students had completed to students at John Muir School who would put the information on webpages to be viewed on the Internet. Harry so believed in the power and importance of global collaboration through ICT that he spent a good deal of his own money to gain access to the Internet. We who have high speed Internet access for less than a dollar a day (a very small percentage of our overall income) perhaps cannot appreciate that Harry’s Internet expenditures represented a significant percentage of his monthly income. He truly sacrificed much more than just his own travel time to make the collaboration between students take place. The resulting website is rich in content and information about the important link between culture and music in Ghana.

Board members of GSN shared their memories of the earliest days of pioneering computer collaboration between students in schools. Their passion and vision for global partnerships has certainly been passed on to a new generation of teachers who have more tools and opportunities than ever before. Founders Yvonne André and Al Rogers unveiled their latest development for GSN – iPoPP – International Projects or Partners Place.

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