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Powering Up Global Change

The opening keynote speaker for ISTE 2010 outlined a host of urgent global problems to a packed theater of ed-techies here in Denver, calling on them to change schools to educate a generation better prepared to solve those problems.

Jean-François Rischard, a former vice president of the World Bank and the best-selling author of High Noon, told the audience that the world needs a "new generation of students" who are more creative and collaborative in their approach to tackling global problems such as the warming of the planet, poverty, financial instability, water shortages, and biodiversity breakdowns.

The speech was heavy on the global big picture, with charts, diagrams, and lists on a large screen on the stage, but there were not a lot of specifics about how education, and more specifically, educational technology would help solve those problems.

But near the end of the presentation, Rischard called on those in the audience and educators worldwide to engage in the kinds of changes that would help tackle the world's most pressing issues. "We need a new generation with far more knowledge, much better skills, and a different mindset," he said. "This has to come from heads of states, this has to come from you, educators."

He argued that if schools took the approach of creating a more multidisciplinary and multicultural curriculum centered on solving the biggest global problems, the result would be better schools producing more creative, analytical, and collaborative students who would grow up to be far more effective than the present generation of adults in addressing the fast-changing and increasingly complex issues of today and tomorrow.

But, he said, "institutions of education tend to be much more change resistant when they should be the opposite." That comment drew loud applause.

The ISTE 2010 conference is featuring a host of sessions with global themes such as "Project Japan: The Latest Ed Tech Trends, Solutions, and Opportunities" and "Technology and Creating a Globalized Classroom." You can see more items on the agenda at the ISTE site.

Also, in her opening remarks before introducing Rischard, ISTE President Helen Padgett pointed out that the conference had representatives from more than 78 countries.

Stay tuned for more coverage of ISTE 2010. We'll be here this week covering news, trends, and ideas coming out of the nation's largest educational technology conference.

One feature of the conference worth checking out is ISTEVison, where educators can post or view videos about educational technology. There will be video coverage of certain sessions at the conference.

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