10th Asia-Europe Classroom Network (AEC-NET) Conference in Dundalk

AECIreland has just completed the successful hosting of the 10th Asia-Europe Classroom Network (AEC-NET) Conference in Dundalk.  The theme of the conference was Apps in Asian and European Classrooms – Unleashing Educational Creativity.  More than 120 delegates from 33 countries in Asia and Europe were present.  The conference ran from the 7-11 November 2011.  The full programme can be viewed at http://www.aec.asef.org

AENWhat, you may well ask, is this network?  To quote from the AEC-NET:

It is a cyber classroom shared by students and teachers to build stronger bi-regional networks and partnerships in the course of implementing common online projects and participating in face-to-face exchanges.

Starting in Singapore in 2001 and locating in Asia one year and Europe the next, the conference provides the opportunity for teachers in the countries to have face-to-face meetings, to participate in continuing professional development and to plan projects for the coming year.  It is these latter that are at the heart of what the AEC-NET does.  At that first conference seven projects were proposed and planned.  This year there were thirty six.

The word ‘project’ tends to provoke one of two responses: i) curiosity and ii) aversion.  The second may result from the notion of significant additional work, lengthy application forms and little relevance to the curriculum.  Yes, of course there will be additional work. The nature and extent of it is dependent on the type of project you choose to engage with and the level of work you invest in it with your students.  Thankfully the only form filling is done by the project coordinator and even that is neither lengthy nor arduous.  As the teacher chooses the project it would be natural to pick the one best suited to the local curriculum.  So let me try to pique your curiosity a little more.
Projects usually start in December/January and run until May/June.  They centre on some activity which involves students from different schools working collaboratively.  The type of subject area covered is as broad as any curriculum.  Approaches are many and varied.  Different platforms are used and all coordinators endeavour to engage with the most ubiquitous of tools. The working language is English and is the second language of the majority of students.  Ages are generally, though not exclusively, 15-19 years. All the projects for this year and indeed previous years can be viewed at http://www.aec.asef.org Here you will find project factsheets and contact details for the coordinators.  If you go to YouTube and look at music in the air kalu videos you will see the results of a collaborative effort from a number of countries.  The ‘one song many voices and instruments’ nature of the video exemplifies the idea of the single project with many participants.

I have been involved in projects since 2004 and would strongly recommend them.  I usually implement them in Transition Year and students always respond positively to them.  A group from Finland has visited my school and we have done ‘real time’ chats with partners as far away as the Philippines.  As technology improves so the opportunities to have a cyber classroom increase.  Why not have a look anyway, you might be surprised by what you find?  If you wish to join a project simply contact the coordinator.


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