Interest does not tie nations together; it sometimes separates them. But sympathy and understanding does unite them. -Woodrow T. Wilson

Naan is a traditional bread of Northern India, and it was one of the Indian food selections offered to guests of the Coalition for International Initiatives(CII), at last night’s dinner. Innovative 21st Century school leaders from Spring Grove, Conewago Valley, Eastern York, and Gettysburg School Districts decided to attend a demonstration of the eKWIP website held at the New Hope Academy Charter School in York, PA. These leaders understand the impact of globalization and recognize that educational programs and practices must prepare children for international collaboration.

The 21st Century is being defined by the ability of organizations to connect to people from all nations around the world. This powerful innovation process has been felt by commerce and industry but has had less of an impact on mainstream school populations. Granted there are those forward thinking teachers in districts who seek out innovation and creative practices on their own and have connected internationally using Moodle tools and Skype. These teachers are to be applauded for their efforts in developing 21st Century skills in tandem with their core curriculum.

One of the areas of difficulty with this singular teacher approach is that it is difficult to model and implement across disciplines within schools. Techno-phobia is causing paralysis in innovative educational technology practices because the fear of user error is too strong.

The eKWIP (educating Kids With International Possibilities) is an open-source online learning platform that was developed through the cooperation of CII, LogicBay and IETS, a division of IL&FS, an India-based infrastructure Company. These collaborators believe in the mission that children can develop international sensitivities through standards-focused teachable moments. It is the academic rigor of the lessons that allows the eKWIP platform to transcend those surface online programs that have weak academic merit. Although rigorous in instruction, the program was designed with a user-friendly approach to aid in ease of dissemination across educational institutions.

At the demonstration last night, leaders from the aforementioned schools experienced the site and willingly signed up to take part in the R&D of the site and companion teaching model of T2M during the spring semester. Grade levels within the K to 12 sequence will be represented in this research project.  School children in the US and India will be able to communicate and share artifacts of learning collected during the teachable moment phase of the learning process. This international collaboration will trigger more teachable moments and bring a cultural richness to a curriculum that is recently becoming too sanitized and standardized.

It is at this moment, that we at CII would like to thank New Hope Academy Charter School,  DPS Gwalior, and the Mahatma Gandhi International school for their participation in the soft-start of this online program in late November and early December, 2010. We would also like to extend a warm thank you to the school leaders who met last night to put children first in international collaboration.

Gregory M. McGough, M.Ed.

CII Chief Academic Officer