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iEARN (International Education and Resource Network)

Organization

iEARN

Address and contact details

US office:
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 450
New York, NY 100115, USA
Email: iEARN

For contact information for offices/centres outside the USA, see the iEARN website.

Project partners

A partial list of partners includes:

• American Forum for Global Education

• American Museum of Natural History

• The Center for Collaborative Research in Education

• Copen Family Fund

• Con Edison

• Global Education And Development Alliance (GEADA)

• Global Kids

• I Have a Dream Foundation

• International Institute for Communications and Development

• International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX)

• John Templeton Foundation

• The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA)

• North Carolina Center for International Understanding

• Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation)

• Schools Online

• SEED (Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development)

• Sister Cities International

• Superintendent of Manhattan High Schools

• Team Encounter

• ThinkQuest

• Tides Foundation

• United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA)

• United Nations Cyberschoolbus

• United States Department of Education

• United States Department of State

• World Links for Development (WorLD) Program

• World Wise Schools

Location

iEARN is active in over 95 countries. Take a look at the
website for further information.

Background

iEARN has been linking schools internationally since 1988. In that year, the Copen Family Foundation, under the leadership of Peter Copen, linked 12 schools in Moscow with 12 schools in New York State in a pioneering
demonstration that education could be enhanced and the quality of life on the planet improved if young people were to have the opportunity to use
telecommunications technologies to engage in collaborative projects. Working with the New York State Education Department and the Academy of Science of the former Soviet Union, students worked in both English and Russian on curriculum-based projects designed by participating teachers. An independent evaluation of this demonstration project noted:

• students discussed political/social issues and international events more frequently than a control group;

• students read more at home, including more news magazines and books by authors from other countries;

• the project impacted students' awareness and understanding of international issues and current events;

• enrolments in second language courses increased as students wrote for an authentic audience.

The heart of the programme was (and continues to be) the principle that students can be empowered to enhance their learning through interactive, project-based learning and that they can - by addressing local, national and global issues in these projects - make a meaningful difference to the quality of life on the planet.

Based on teacher reactions (one told evaluators that it "was the most dynamic and rewarding educational experience I have had in my 22 years of teaching"), iEARN expanded to nine countries in 1990. In each country a centre was created to provide training and support for teachers who were at the cutting edge of educational change.

After the success of the project work completed between 1990 and 1994, iEARN opened its network to schools worldwide and currently works with schools in over 95 countries. 

Aims and objectives

The goals of the International Education and Resource Network are:

• To develop friendly relations among youth of all nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.

• To encourage youth from all countries to learn and work cooperatively and collaboratively using telecommunications and other technology, to strengthen universal peace, to identify and take active part in resolving global problems facing the world.

• To promote and encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, culture or religion.

• To facilitate identification and sharing the different but complementary experiences of educational, academic and other national organizations with enduring educational infrastructures and traditions throughout the world.

• To share high-quality educational and other resources available in individual member centres.

• To provide a global infrastructure for a conceptual and action-based educational network that is open to all.

• To share/transfer telecommunications technology, teaching methods and other resources with youth organizations, schools or individuals wishing to achieve the iEARN purpose and goals.

• To assist in establishing training and support programmes in each global centre.

• To expand the network of financially and operationally sustainable iEARN centers throughout the globe.

• To work with umbrella organizations, academic bodies, universities, non- government organizations and governments to establish a global community of concerned organizations and citizens with the express purpose of supporting the youth of the world in developing and implementing educational and humanitarian projects, especially projects of change and healing for the health and welfare of the planet.

• To develop and maintain high-quality educational innovation.

• To raise funds through local and global funding agreements to support these programmes and goals.

Participants

iEARN involves young people and their teachers in schools and youth organizations worldwide.

Target audience

Young people and their teachers in schools and youth organizations worldwide.

Involvement of children

iEARN involves an estimated 500,000 young people, aged between 5-20, from over 95 countries around the world.

Summary of project

iEARN is a non-profit organization made up of over 4,000 schools in nearly 100 countries. iEARN empowers teachers and young people to work together online at very low cost, using the Internet and other new technologies.

Since 1988, iEARN has pioneered online school linkages to enable students to engage in meaningful educational projects with peers in their countries and around the world. iEARN is:

• an inclusive and culturally diverse community;

• a safe and structured environment in which young people can communicate;

• an opportunity to apply knowledge in service-learning projects;

• a community of educators and learners making a difference as part of the educational process.

There are over 100 projects in iEARN, all designed and facilitated by teachers and students to fit their curriculum and classroom needs and schedules. To join, participants select an online project and look at how they can integrate it into their classroom.

With the project selected, teachers and students enter online forum spaces to meet one another and get involved in ongoing projects with classrooms around the world who are working on the same project.

These projects enable students to develop:

• research and critical thinking skills;

• experience with new technologies;

• cultural awareness;

• the habit of getting involved in community issues.

In addition to connecting students' learning with local issues and meeting specific curriculum needs, every project proposed by teachers and students in iEARN has to answer the question: How will this project affect the quality of life on the planet? This vision and purpose is the glue that holds iEARN together, enabling participants to become global citizens who make a difference by collaborating with their peers around the world.

Funders

• Copen Family Fund

• Global Catalyst Foundation

• Longview Foundation

• New York City Board of Education

• Open Society Institute

• Sir John Templeton Foundation

• Teachers College at Columbia University

• Tides Foundation

• United States Department of Education

• United States Department of State

Cost

The cost for participation in iEARN is determined by each iEARN country centre. This ranges from no fee in many iEARN countries to small participation fees to cover programmatic support in countries such as the USA, where schools pay either a US$100 teacher fee, or US$280 for a full school membership.

Strengths of project

• Uses technology to involve young people in collaborative work on global/local issues.

• Creates in young people the awareness that by working with their peers, they can affect change; that they, as one individual, can make a difference.

• Enhances learning because people learn more when engaged experientially with others on issues that matter in their daily lives.

Evaluation

See the iEARN website

What members say

"iEARN is like a big room where you can find the countries of iEARN sitting all together at one table. They are sharing experiences. They are working together to make their countries better." Sharif, Egypt

"Before we had iEARN in Macedonia, there was a lot of Internet connectivity, but there was no content. Now [students] are working on collaborative projects. They are so skilled, working on websites, they are even providing training for teachers and their colleagues and promoting iEARN around the country." Jove, Macedonia

"When we joined iEARN eight years ago, that opened up the world so that now my elementary students are members of a multiethnic, multinational world. They work with kids all over the world almost every day of their lives." Charly Bullock, USA

"iEARN has made a wonderful difference with me. Me being connected with a lot of youth all over the world internationally, really talking about different projects, really having that global community bond that we have as young people." Leinz Vales, USA

"The learning has been exponential. When a student does something for me, he does it in a very cursory way, but when he has to put up something for a global peer audience, boy, he does about one or 20 drafts ... then the feedback pumps him to achieve even more." Peter Patrao, India

"iEARN not only can bridge the gaps for communication around the world but as the kids get older and make their moves into the political arena and life's arena those bridges that they build now as youth will highly affect the livelihood of us as adults." Cleveland, USA

"The world of tomorrow or I would say today, it is no more geographical boundaries ... We really need to know each other, we really need to be tolerant of each other, really need to be understanding each other's practices, respecting the differences. So I see iEARN is going to play a pivotal role in making this happen." Farah Kamal, Pakistan

"iEARN is doing some wonderful, wonderful work and makes us all very proud and I'm especially honoured to be here [at the iEARN Making a Difference Awards Gala] ... My message to you is please keep doing what you are doing. You are building a better world. I'm not just saying that - I've gone out into the schools and I've seen what can happen. What you are doing really makes a difference."
Richard Riley, US Secretary of Education 1992-2000

Examples

Examples of the projects currently underway in iEARN can be seen on the website.

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