Members Explore, Collaborate in China
For more about the trip, visit our travel exchange blogs
and view our photo sites at http://tinyurl.com/45hllv9.
In December, 39 ISTE members visited the People’s Republic of China to talk about learning, teaching, and technology with their Chinese
counterparts. Organized by the People
to People Citizen Ambassador Program, the delegation included a broad
spectrum of educators from the United
States and Bermuda. During the 12-day
trip, visits to schools and universities in
Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai provided
authentic learning and insight into
Chinese educational priorities as well
as a chance to share our best practices.
It also enabled the group to build a professional learning community.
Our first stop was the Beijing
Normal University and its affiliated
high school. Guides introduced our
delegation to a model for English language instruction piloted in Chinese
elementary schools, with learning
supported by one-to-one laptop access. We also visited BISS International School, where ISTE member
Julie Lindsay is the e-learning coordinator. While there, we met with
school leadership and observed students working on e-portfolios using
Wikispaces. In the middle and high
school programs, students bring their
own laptops for seamless technology
integration across the curriculum.
The highlight of our trip was a visit
to Dongtun Primary School near Xi’an.
We observed students in classrooms
without doors or heat, seated in rows of
wooden desks. Back in Xi’an, we began
to understand China’s growing need to
offer both undergraduate and vocational
programs during a visit to Eurasia University, where discussion focused on
bringing new pedagogy to the university, shifting learning to student-centered
models and away from China’s traditional teacher-centered learning.
While in Shanghai, we learned that
the Shanghai Distance Education Group
(SDEG) is developing educational resources that take advantage of mobile
devices in a range of formats. SDEG has
a vision to deliver interactive learning
resources to local schools, families, and
the community for lifelong learning.
We also enjoyed exploring China’s
rich culture and long history. While
touring two of the world’s wonders—
the Great Wall of China and the famed
terra-cotta warriors—we witnessed stark
differences between rural life and the
ever-growing, sprawling cities.
China’s passion for learning and
swift implementation of change is
strikingly visible. As our delegation
arrived in China, the Organization
for Economic Co-operation and De-
velopment released the Program for
International Student Assessment
report ( http://tinyurl.com/5wwa2hu),
which showed that Shanghai students
had the highest international read-
ing and math scores. China has truly
made education a local and national
priority, and its government is in-
creasing funding for education.
We learned much from the institutions our delegation visited but perhaps
even more from the professional community formed among our participants
and the guides who shared personal
stories about life in China. Our group
returned home with a fresh, global outlook on education and culture in China
that brings to mind the dimensional
sheen of a silk rug we watched emerging
from knots carefully tied by a Shanghai
craftswoman. Our global learning experience, formed by row upon row of new
connections, has created a tapestry of
cultural and professional understanding. We may not see the grand design
just yet, but we will be adding to this
Camilla Gagliolo, Rick Reece, and Candace Hackett Shively share their impressions
of learning and teaching in China following a recent visit.