I just returned home from three days at the International Forum for Women in E-learning (IFWE). This year’s theme was IFWE Walk in Her Shoes, and it took us a little deeper into what it means to work as a team in a diverse world. We were encouraged to look for innovative ways to tackle problems or hindrances from learning and make a difference. Here is what we learned:
IFWE provided an opportunity to learn about innovative programs for education.
As with most conferences or forums I attend, I do more than casually join, I usually deliver a keynote or present in a breakout session. At IFWE, however, I decided to team up with Elaine Shuck, our Director for Education, U.S. Public Sector and co-host a guest speaker. Through CloudAXIS, Polycom’s browser-based video conferencing solution, we brought in Lisa Hopper, CEO of World Care to share her life experiences of running one of the world’s largest social entrepreneurship non-profit organizations.
From a traumatic brain aneurysm to her position as CEO, Lisa allowed us to take a walk in her shoes. She shared her experiences in disaster relief where her organization has provided over 65 million pounds (29,483,504.05kg) of supplies to approximately120 countries which have suffered from disasters. World Care is now launching a new division focused on providing support for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning worldwide. (see how at www.stemlearning.us/ to learn more –I will be elaborating in a blog soon with more details). What World Care is doing for STEM is a very exciting venture and incredibly important as educators continue to encourage students to seek an education focused in STEM programs.
Lisa did a terrific job relating to - and encouraging – attendees. However, this discussion wouldn’t happen without CloudAXIS which enabled her to come in virtually. As many of you know, hotels are notorious for having horrible bandwidth and with firewalls that sometimes make videoconferencing impossible. Because it is browser-based, CloudAXIS had the ability to forgo bandwidth and firewall limitations. Most importantly, it allowed the group to focus solely on the learning and that’s how any solution should be.
IFWE brought keynote speakers that were highly successful women in the field who have worked to balance life, family and career- each was inspiring.
Even as thought leaders in our respective fields, we often need someone or something to jump start our energy and reignite our passion for educating. Women like Veronica “Ronnye” Vargas Stidvent, Chancellor of Western Governors University (WGU) Texas, who also served in the Whitehouse, reminded us of how to drive our vision while maintaining a healthy life-balance. Ana Maria Lopez, Medical Director for Arizona Telemedicine Program provided stellar insight into leading the way by following our hearts, empathy and compassion for the learner.
IFWE provided the opportunity to share best practices, establish valuable relationships, and explore ways to be more effective leaders.
Some of the breakout sessions included topics such as: eMentoring, competency-based learning, connecting the dots between knowledge acquisition and knowledge application, tracking mobile professional development using multimedia modules/badges, and developing real world experiences through E-learning.
While I love all of these topics, my passion for video quickly made me realize the power CloudAXIS is providing to take eMentoring and eTutoring to a whole new level. Teachers, professors, and students alike are connecting from wherever they are just-in-time. AND… future employers are giving back more often because they can easily connect from wherever they might be at the time the student or employee needs them. Expect a future blog to come on this subject.
The forum concluded with an invitation to join the U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA) next April 26-29, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri for the national conference. The title will be DISTANCE LEARNING: IGNITE, INNOVATE AND INSPIRE! The call for proposals is now open at www.usdla.org. Will you join me there?