June 26, 2014

Junior Commission – Read the report now!

Over the last year, we have worked hard to produce a report about Education and the Internet.

We were given the chance of a lifetime, to travel the globe, interview professionals in the field of education and technology, and carry out a yearlong research project with a global reach.

We have had a busy year which included visiting the UK and the USA, communicating online, learning new skills and rising to the challenge to create a report to influence policy makers, organisations and educators all over the world.

We come from 8 different countries: Lindsey from Canada; Aateka and Danish from Pakistan; Gabriel and Sathyam from the UK; Beatrix from Singapore; Anne-Eléonore from France; Jurgen from the Netherlands; Rachael from Australia, and Kamogelo from South Africa. We were selected in Spring 2013 following a gruelling application process involving essay writing and Skype interviews.

After a busy and challenging year, we have produced a report which you can read here. This includes a number of recommendations for schools and organisations to aspire to, in order make a difference to education on a global scale. These recommendations are intended to encourage development, research, provision and global change in the field of ‘Education and the Internet’. The information and evidence provided in this report will be beneficial to schools, educational organisations and by extension, governments around the world.

It wasn’t all hard work however, our time together at The University of Warwick in the UK, and in Washington D.C and New York gave us the opportunity to travel the globe, make lifelong friends and gain new skills and experience.

We had an amzing year of learning, researching, travelling and meeting influential people. We hope you will enjoy reading it.

You can read our reportnow and follow our progress on twitter @jnrcommission

“It is amazing how far we as Junior Commissioners have come as a group in just a year. We have all grown so much, and learnt so much. It was amazing to be able to share this experience with nine other like-minded young people.”

- Rachael Earl, Australia


June 05, 2014

Leafing Through a Year: Part I (by Gabriel de Sousa)

It’s been one year since I joined the Junior Commission. Very shortly, we’ll be publishing the report we have been working on for so long, and I’m excited to see it soon to be made public. Before that happens, though, I’d like to spend a little time looking back at how we’ve spent the last year.

Over the course of our last orbit around the sun, we have continuously learnt and collaborated together online, travelled together through two countries in two residential visits, visited or met with people from over 25 exceptional and influential schools and organisations, and been taken on a personal tour of the Houses of Parliament by a Lord of the Realm.

I ran some numbers, and it turns out we have collectively travelled approximately 155,000 miles for this project.

That’s more than 6 times the circumference of the Earth.

Yeah. That’s a lot of miles.

Aside from driving home the incredible scale and scope of the Junior Commission, for me, this raises a question: what makes this whole endeavour worth the 110 kg (by my very rough estimate) of Carbon Dioxide we added to the atmosphere in its process? This also brings to mind some other questions - like what makes the Commission worth all the money it has cost, or the hundreds of hours of our time that we have spent on it?

To answer these, I’d like to take you on a slightly meandering journey back to the beginning of my involvement with the Junior Commission.

When I first applied to the Commission, I was - as is so often the case - anxious. Anxious I wouldn't get along with anyone else in the Commission, anxious I would have more work than I could keep up with, anxious about spending a week in another country with people I’d never met before. Every step of the application, from the personal introduction to the essay to the interview, a part of me wondered whether I was in the progress of making a huge mistake; but ultimately I didn’t duck out, and I saw it through. There was nothing to more do but wait to see if I’d been accepted.

A few weeks after the interview, I opened up my inbox to find a message entitled ‘Junior Commission News’. Quickly and hungrily, I opened it up to see ‘Congratulations’ staring out at me in large print. Perhaps it’s cliché to say at this point, but it was a wonderful, slightly bizarre feeling; of triumph, of excitement, and of the sudden realisation that it was pretty much too late to back out.


Congratulations!


A month and a half or so later, I arrived by car with my parents at Warwick University in the mid-afternoon. It was the first day of the first residential visit, and I was the first there. Sathyam, the only other Junior Commissioner from the UK, was only fifteen minutes away by car; and the others, flying out from their respective countries, had been delayed at Heathrow. I waited in the Warwick Arts centre with my parents for several hours. It was around 9pm by the time Sathyam and his family, having been told the others would arrive shortly, turned up at the Arts centre. We recognised each others faces from the Junior Commission microsite fairly quickly, and introduced ourselves. Despite being two years older than me, he was very warm and entirely unpretentious; so he gave me a good first introduction. He was still only one of ten, though.

About twenty minutes later, the coach carrying the other Commissioners, Louise, and Adam (who was our other supervisor for the week) arrived. Sathyam and I walked over in its direction, and our families made a discrete exit as its passengers began to disembark. We started smiling, waving, shaking hands - everyone seemed nice, especially given they had managed to maintain their disposition through a day of traveling and no tea, but it was really all just going through the motions - until apropos of nothing, an unusually tall person with a dutch accent (whose face I recognised from the website as Jurgen) suddenly proclaimed, ‘Food.’ Everyone laughed, and I laughed with them. It was an odd kind of catharsis; but in that moment I suddenly felt completely assured that I had nothing to worry about: the week was going to be wonderful, and I was going to have a great time. And I was right.

After the introductions were over, we walked through the pitch black campus into the empty canteen, where we ate a dinner that was undeniably somewhat awkward, but that I nonetheless enjoyed a great deal.


Roots Restaurant


The next day, I woke up, showered, and walked with the other Commissioners to breakfast at the cafeteria. The newness of the whole experience was starting to settle down just a little for us all, and we started to get to know each other for real. Soon, breakfast was over, and we set off to our first team-building workshop: leader and follower skills. So began the cycle that would repeat over the next three days.

Every one of the team-building and research-skills workshops we took part in was fantastic, but for me special mention needs to go to those run by Gary Watt (rhetoric) and Jonny Heron (presence) in the drama studio. They were not only incredibly informative, they were also the most fun I’d had in months.


Presence with Jonny Heron


It wasn’t just workshops we were spending our time on. We had some time out for relaxation too: wall climbing (where I reached the top for the first time only because the guy holding my safety rope seemed selectively oblivious to my plea that I was ‘ready to come down now’ halfway up - though I must admit, getting to the top was a whole lot of fun) and bowling (where Beatrix’s reticence to hold a bowling ball for fear her fingers would get caught led me to the dubious distinction of losing a game of bowling to a person afraid of bowling balls). We also presented at the Global and Gifted Conference - it was great to feel that we had genuinely built and accomplished something together - and travelled to the London to meet Lord Jim Knight - where (again) we were taken on a personal tour of the Houses of Parliament by a Lord of The Realm.

Just putting that out there.

As time went by, I got to know each of the other Commissioners more and more; and the more I knew about them, the more glad I felt that we had all been chosen to learn and work together. It was a funny thing. Strangers were turning into friends at an unprecedented speed.

When at the end of the week, we said goodbye, it was a sad moment; but it was tempered with the knowledge that we’d be continuing to work together online for the next ten months, and we’d all be meeting again in October for the U.S. residential trip.

We got some good work done in the following months. We learnt a lot, gained a better understanding of one anothers’ positions, and laid much of the groundwork upon which we would later base the report.

At, I think, the beginning of October, Louise sent us all the itinerary for the upcoming USA trip. It was incredible; we were to spend the first half of our trip in Washington D.C., and the second in New York City, with visits planned for, among others, some of the most prestigious elementary and high schools in the nation, the New York Google Offices, and the Capitol. We spent a day collectively freaking out about how amazing it was, until we were sent back to actual work, researching the places we were soon to visit.

When it came, the second residential trip was no less amazing than the first. We did so many incredible things - visited Washington D.C. and New York City, toured some incredible schools, spent an afternoon in Google’s New York offices, met with the people behind the Smithsonian Digitization Project - that it would be pointless to try and summarise it here. Suffice to say, I had a wonderful, wonderful time, and it was genuinely one of the best weeks I have ever lived.


In Washington D.C.

Since we all returned to our respective homes, we have continued to work hard on our report, planning and writing and editing and debating online. Now, the report has been handed over to IGGY’s content team to turn from thousands of lines of unformatted to the polished, finished product.


[Continued below in part II]


Leafing Through a Year: Part II (by Gabriel de Sousa)

[Continued from Part I]

So, after all this, we come back to the original question: what makes the Commission worth its environmental impact - and besides that, its cost and its consumption of our time?

My first answer to this (and possibly the more obvious one) is the report itself. It’s not perfect; any group work involves compromise, and no matter how much you work, there’s only so much you can do in a year (besides, we have important teenager things to worry about, like exams and emotional maturation and video games) but we’ve put a lot of sweat and blood into it. I think we’ve ended up with something with a lot of interesting data and some very pertinent recommendations; and I hope very much that it can affect some positive change in the world of education.

My second answer is a more personal one; the impact it has had upon us. This truly has been an incredible experience for me, and I think a quick look over the past several blogs will show you that the others feel the same way. We’ve all learned a very great deal about education, the internet, and how to make a good report; and more than that, we’ve had the pleasure of spending this time with each other, learning and working and having insane amounts of fun.

I do feel a little bad about the weight I’ve added to my carbon footprint through this project; but that’s massively outweighed by the fact that this is an experience that will always mean so much to me, and that has had a sizable and lasting impact upon who I am. I can’t think of any other way I would have rather spent this time.

After a year like this, there’s a lot to be grateful for; so I hope you won’t hold it against me if my ‘Thank You’ section is a little long.

Thank you to all the people we have met with and interviewed (either online or in real life) for donating your time and sharing your thoughts. Your input was very useful and much appreciated, and has been a big part of shaping our report.

Thank you a lot to Adam, Richard, and Graeme. You were all wonderful chaperones in the U.K. and the U.S. You kept things running and kept them fun, and you were a big part of why the trips were so successful.

Thank you especially to Louise, for being impeccably organised, for planning out both of our trips perfectly, and for keeping us on track with our work and research. You’re the reason any of this was possible in the first place.

Most of all, thank you to the nine other people whom I’m so glad I got to work with, to get to know, and to share this adventure with.

To Aateka, who was a joy to work with at both the Global and Gifted Conference and ACE, and who has been consistently so nice and so genuine over the course of the Commission.

To Danish, who has at every turn gone above and beyond to keep this project going, and has been unfailingly courteous and respectful. You are an organisational wizard and a fantastic presenter.

To Sathyam, for being consistently warm and unpretentious from the moment I met him, and for being probably the world’s most stress-free roommate in New York.

To Jurgen, for being so easygoing and thoughtful (doing the little things; asking if anyone would like a drink at breakfast, making sure everyone is included), and for reminding us time and time again how wonderful a good cheeseboard is. If I ever throw a big party, you shall be invited!

To Rachael, who has done some excellent work online in particular, and who somehow managed to remain an active and enthusiastic member of the Commission throughout both residential trips despite her massive 24 hour plane journeys.

To Beatrix, who cared enough about being a part of the commission to stay up time and time again until 3am to be part of the webchat. I remember when we were on the energy trail at Warwick, I was hanging back and not asking the questions I wanted to ask. You were paying enough attention to notice, and encourage me, and I appreciate that.

To Anne, who is an endless fountain of enthusiasm, and whose commitment to the things she cares about I admire. Most times we've had to write at least a page for a task, you've written five; and you speak four languages (like, seriously, four!) which is fairly impressive.

To Kamo, for seeming to savor every single moment of our trips; dancing with Lindsey at capital hill, and having apparently a natural gift for posing for photos (seriously, like 80% of my photos from the America trip are of you posing). You did a fantastic job with that first primary research task, too.

To Lindsey, for being so consistently insightful and funny throughout the year. You’re an excellent communicator, and you had something interesting to say in every discussion.

I am not a morning person. I’m a light sleeper, and I value my sleep; but every single day of those residential visits I was glad to wake up at the crack of dawn, because it meant I could squeeze a few more precious hours into the day. I have now known all of you for about five percent of my life. That’s no small amount; but it feels like so much longer.

This is us the first day we met:


Dinner at Warwick













This is us just before the last time we all saw each other together:


In New York


In between, I gained 3 branded T-Shirts, about 27 branded pens, an abundance of new skills, and about half a lifetime of high-density new experiences. More than any of that, though, I met nine people whom I am impossibly glad to have been able to know. I doubt I will ever stop feeling grateful for this opportunity, and I know there won't ever be a time when I don't look back on it with happiness.

I think I made a good decision pressing that submit button.

It’s been a pleasure,

Gabriel


May 20, 2014

Journey’s Endů or not by Beatrix Tung

"You could not step twice into the same river"– Heraclitus

Indeed, for other waters are flowing in, and neither are you the same person. If asked to describe myself at both the start and the end of my Junior Commission journey, I would be hard-pressed to say that nothing has changed.

So the question now is, what did?

It still seems that my love for questioning has not faded, but it has only intensified. Perhaps, let us, for the first and last time, step in the river of memory together and trace it back to the Junior Commission’s tributary, where this phase of the journey began.

I remember being enticed by the attractive prospect of travelling to the United Kingdom and the United States for an entire week each. I have the terrible affliction of wanderlust, and these two places had been near the top of my “Places to Visit” list (indeed, such a list exists). Although Singapore is one of the most globalized countries in Southeast Asia, its society is still rooted in Asian culture and values, and thus the experience of travelling to other countries is still a necessary experience, which helps one develop a more cosmopolitan perspective.

Without hesitation, I clicked on the link to find out more about the Junior Commission and how I could sign up. The promise of working together with other like-minded peers and academics from around the world to tackle one of society’s most pressing issues excited me immediately, and I began imagining how I could contribute to creating high-quality report which would influence policy-makers and organizations around the world. Perhaps it sounds ambitious, presumptuous even. But you know what they say, if your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough. And what better time to dream than when one is young? I could talk about how young people are the most expendable demographic, but let’s move on to this year’s topic of Education and the Internet which sealed the deal and motivated me to try for the role of Junior Commissioner.

At the time of the Junior Commission recruitment drive, my school had recently introduced iPads for use in learning. Although I was not involved in the pilot program myself, I was still able to observe its effects and occasionally teachers would bring in iPads for use in lessons, though unlike the other classes under the pilot program we were unable to bring the iPads home. It struck me as serendipity how I was in such a favourable position to gather data on the issue, and after some reflection, I realized how significant the subject of Education and the Internet was to me, firstly since I was a student (obviously), secondly because upon doing further research, my country had been doing so much about this and I had never noticed anything. Lastly, when I took a step back and looked at things from a global perspective, I was able to see, with sudden clarity, the importance of integrating Internet-enabled technology into education when I had been unable to do so before. I decided that I would want to play a supporting role in bringing the Internet to more schools and so I worked through the night (literally) in order to submit my Junior Commission application, only to realize with a mixture of amusement and horror on the next day that the deadline had been extended and there had been no need for me to stay up. Anyway, it was all worth it in the end when I received the email.

So, for the rest of the year as Junior Commissioner, we did research in preparation for our trips to the UK and the US, and when we were in the UK and US, we visited various schools and organizations to conduct research on the various ways they used the internet to teach. It was also a great opportunity to network with professionals who would be interested in our report and advocate the use of the internet in education. Currently, we are working together to deliver the report.

A particular experience that has stood out for me is the visit to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, ranked the best public high school in the nation from 2007 to 2013. No wonder their students accomplished so much, and the curriculum was adequately challenging for the students. From Wikipedia, “All students are required to complete an introductory Java computer science course before their junior year, or, subject to a placement test, an accelerated introductory Python and Java computer science class. Seniors must also participate in the Senior Technology Laboratory Research program, which consists of a year-long research project or an off-campus mentorship through one of the school's research labs”. Since I am in my school’s Astronomy Club right now, I was suitably impressed by the fact that students had assembled a satellite and launched it into space by themselves. When the Junior Commission interviewed the students, all we could think of was how we would trade many things just to be given a chance to study at that school, because to us, that school represented the American dream. The students were also extremely forthcoming and enthusiastic in their answers, which we were grateful for. The informal setting of the exchange helped ease our initial tension and helped the conversation flow more naturally.

I also remember that for my first research challenge, I approached my country’s Ministry of Education (website: http://www.moe.gov.sg/). What they have been doing to make the use of technology more impactful in what has been called “will be highly relevant to our project as something the Junior Commissioners have come to realize over the course of this project is that bringing in the hardware is insufficient, one needs to bring in software and human talents as well.

To summarize, I have gained many valuable and important things from the process of being a Junior Commissioner, and one of the most important skills I have learnt is communication, through interaction with so many people. I sometimes find it difficult to connect to people but talking to so many people from around the world have helped me be more open and confident in what I say, and I now find that I can start a conversation with nearly anyone, which will bring, I suspect, an endless variety of benefits.

The report is currently underway, and we have many exciting recommendations to share in the report. I don’t want to spoil anything, but we’ve been thinking about expanding the good work IGGY has done, and perhaps in the future we can have a global learning platform targeted at school pupils. Sure, there are MOOCs, but MOOC content generally does not target younger audiences. Maybe one day we can see an upgraded version of IGGY, with its course content having greater academic rigour.

What I feel about the report is that repeating conventions coloured by the views of the people we have interviewed simply will not do, because I think the whole project would become hugely unsatisfying. I suppose the Commission will be somewhat limited as people already have certain expectations for what we should write. I don’t think they expect such levels of quality from us, considering our age and the length of time spent on this research (some people take 10 years, and I am mostly sceptical of results of such studies, because it would have lost relevance when it is published). I think that others would expect us to be politically correct and just doll up the format of our research. I hope to prove them wrong and exceed their expectations. Lastly, I hope that the suggestions we come up with will be original and insightful, but most of all they should be attractive and easy to implement. I hope the proposed changes will also be sustainable.

But what next, after the report comes out? Well, I wouldn’t want our report to suffer Internet death, because new content is always being published, so I will continue to send the report to the relevant people, and perhaps continue to do research on the issue’s persisting unaddressed gaps, in order to arrive at better and better resolutions for the problem, which is the whole spirit of the Junior Commission in the first place.

It’s been a great journey, my fellow Commissioners. Hope it’s been as fun for you as it’s been for me.

Beatrix


May 08, 2014

SOMETIMES IN LIFE… — By Aateka Vaseer


One fine day at school when you can see the sun so clear and dazzling you almost feel the burn on your skin, you can really feel the warm breeze hitting your face.You can see the sky so blue and vivid, it feels great but sometimes in life you just don’t expect anything exceptional to happen, you just don’t.

“Hey Aateka, you should participate in this thing, its great.” says my English teacher

“Sure, I’d love to.” I still didn’t expect anything exceptional to happen but when you really don’t see it coming, that’s when life surprises you.


A week later…….

Dear Aateka,

Congratulations!

And that’s how my life changed, completely. Applying for the Junior Commission was the best decision of my life and I could never deny it. I had always wanted to something more than just being a good student at school; more than just getting good grades and I think God understood me real clear.

Not one year ago I was a nerd with little exposure but with a vision to enhance the education sector in my country and do something extraordinary. Just for once in my life do something with my skills that I felt were more than just for debating and making presentations. I wanted to construct my vision and dream into reality, right in front of my eyes. That’s why I accepted and applied for the Junior Commission. That’s where my adventure really began.

pic_0165.jpg

On my first day as a Junior Commissioner, I celebrated my 15th birthday at the University where our lovely Project Manager Ms. Louise surprised me with a birthday cake and everybody wished me a belated Happy Birthday. It was entirely a very pleasant surprise and I must say it was a very remarkable start to the programme!

The same day we all got to know each other at the ice breaking ceremony at the University where we had to bring a poicture with us and explain why it represented a special place to us (see video below). We learnt about leadership and teamwork skills, debating, presenting, prescence, referencing, interviewing and collaboration; it was all so perfect. During the week, we attended Mr Johnny Heron’s workshop on 'presence' about how to present ourselves effectively. Here, we practiced for our important and first ever presentation as Junior Commissioners at the Global and Gifted conference, this was a very effective and fun activity - along with the social activity of rock climbing where I found that others had climbed more than twice but here I was, still trying to finish my first round, yay…


photo_2.jpg

However, the most interactive day was the one when we had to present at and interact with significant people at the Global and Gifted Conference and spread the word about the new 2013-2014 Junior Commission. After our rocking presentation we handed out our business cards to our guests (while pretending to be wearing dark sunglasses and a black suit, acting like Will Smith from Men in Black). That was the perfect day; we also met Mr Doug Brown, one of the members of our Advisory Panel, I gave him a little token of a leather wallet with his name engraved on it, he was very delighted!

Moving on, we travelled to London where we met Lord Jim Knight, another one of the Junior CommissionAdvisors (and yes I gave him a leather wallet too, with his name also engraved on it).

That was the most magical day for me because I always wanted to visit the House of Lords. When I stepped inside the place, I felt a wave of the past go right through me as I walked through the corridors of the House of Lords, the French war paintings added to the extra magical effect. It was awe-inspiring and an encouragement to keep reading about our past and the world’s history. I could really feel the energy travel through my veins when I saw a secret voting cabinet, I wonder what more there could be….

After a few months, our next visit was to the United States of America where we met Mr Stephen Balkam in Washington D.C, CEO of FOSI (Family Online Safety Institute).I was lucky enough to tell him about IGGY and The Junior Commission programme. He was very thrilled to meet us and found out what our views on online safety were, we also interviewed him as part of our research.

During this trip, all my skills that I already possessed. as well as those that we had developed as part of our first week together in the UK atthe University of Warwick, were enhanced and you can say that at that time I had become much better, I had improved and I was much more confident, all thanks to IGGY and the Junior Commission.


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We also visited ACE (American Council on Education) in Washington D.C. where Gabriel and I had the opportunity to interview Ms Cathy Sandeen and Ms Stephanie Morris. They were kind enough to offer us lunch before our interview and it was just what we (I and Jurgen) needed!

However, I’d say that after presenting to ACE I kind of felt proud of us all because at the end of the interview and the presentation, Ms Cathy Sandeen said that she was relieved they were going to leave the future in better hands. That kind of made my day.

During our trip to Washington, we also visited 3 schools which were very different in terms of provision of technology, the Smithsoanian and ARTLAB+ so we had a wide range of experts to consult as part of our research.

Our next stop was the concrete jungle, New York! We visited the ischool and also Google in and it still hasn’t hit me that I really have been to Google and met Google-errs and also interviewed the two of them as parrt of our reserach into Education and the Internet. It was an honour, really. The Google-errs were really sweet and they even offered us a tour of their office. Let me add that it was the coolest “office” I have ever been to, the one that has its own Lego Kitchen also a mystery challenge every day also scooties to travel around the office, amazing. This was an incredible way to gain more exposure about the practical and real life.

As well as being hard work; carrying out our research and planning for our report, we had some time for fun too. We celebrated Halloween together and visited the Rockefeller centre to the top floor, where we could see almost half of New York and Brooklyn at night time. It was amazing, also a learning experience of different cultures there and how they celebrated Halloween together.The same night we had a great meal together, it was different but all the more fun with the 9 other amazing people with me.

However, I could not forget all the contributions made by Richard, Louise and Graham also Adam Tanner (in UK). They did everything they could to make our trip an amazing one, so here’s a BIG THANKS! Whatever we may do, we may not be able to repay you guys back!

kkk

I will never forget this year and the amazing yet talented people I have met with so many different personalities. I will always cherish these memories and think about these days that I’ve spent with you people; it was indeed an honour to be with all the nine of you and to meet such influential people in the field of Education and technology. In the coming years I’ll be focusing more on my academic life as I’ll be studying my CIE exams. However all these skills that I have learnt from IGGY and the Junior Commission will make me a better person and a better pioneer of the future and I am sure that the same goes for the other 9 amazing leaders in making.

Thank you IGGY and The University of Warwick for providing me with this opportunity and from my side, I’d say that it was indeed my utmost pleasure to collaborate with these remarkable organizations. next, comes the report so my work isn't actually over yet.

Please have a look at a (very) short movie I made by combining some short videos I recorded whilst my journey with the Junior Commission in the UK and in the USA. (This is the best I could do with my exams due next week).

Until then,

It is goodbye from the Pakistani Junior Commissioner.

Khuda Hafiz!

Aateka Vaseer


April 27, 2014

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships (By Sathyam)

Hello and welcome to my last blog for the Junior Commission! Sad times…I think I’m actually gonna sort of miss writing these blogs, even if some of them have been the morning of the day that I should be posting it (bad time management – I’m 2 days late for this one!). But anyway, I’m going to be talking about my experience as a Junior Commission over the past year, and the things we’ve done and learnt.


You might be thinking about the title and what a great quote it is…and how it’s too good for me to make up! Well, I didn’t make it up, it’s from Michael Jordan (the basketball legend). I chose it as a title because I think that it’s so relevant to us as Junior Commissioners. On our own, we can be successful in what we do; but when there’s 10 of us together, the amount of success we achieve (and have achieved working together over this past year) is much much more.

Capitol

(Usain Bolt poses in front of Capitol Hill)

I initially joined IGGY back in October 2012 when I had just started year 12 and AS levels. My school is a pilot school for IGGY so around 15 of us from all ages were put on the site for free. When I first heard about it, I thought it was ‘just another thing the school are trying to put me on’ and didn’t think anything of it. I just thought it was nothing really…but back then I didn’t realise that there was this one opportunity that would give me such an amazing experience. One day in school, during one of the ‘IGGY sessions’ which was when we were told to go on the IGGY website, I came across something that got me thinking. It said something like ‘would you like to be part of a group of students tackling issues around Education and the internet.’ It also mentioned about the opportunity to visit the USA. After reading those bits, I got really interested and started reading more about it and how to apply. I then realised that this was such a good opportunity that I couldn’t miss. The topic was so relevant to my life, as I always use technology and the internet in my education. Also, getting the chance to work with 9 other people from all over the world…that sounded amazing!

I still remember applying for it. I was revising for my AS exams which were like 4 weeks away, and I was stressing about getting the essay done. Luckily I got it done in time, submitted all the writing pieces and had my interview. I also remember getting that email from Louise which the first line was ‘Congratulations!’ That feeling was so good after reading that email. I just look back now and think I’m glad for that one lesson that I browsed the IGGY website…maybe it was just meant to be!!



The first time we met each other was at Warwick Uni in June 2013. All of the other 9 Junior Commissioners had long distances to travel, as far as Australia and Singapore. I was lucky to have just a 20 min drive from my house to Warwick Uni…one side of Coventry to the other. During this week, we had loads of workshops that helped us build up skills necessary for the rest of the project, and allowed us all to become really good friends in the short time that we had known each other. We even met up with Lord Jim Knight and had a tour of Parliament with him!

First dinner

(Our first ever dinner together!)


Workshop

(One of the workshops)

Leaving

(Saying bye for the first time)


For me the most challenging experience was presenting at the Global and Gifted Conference, which was held at Warwick Uni whilst we were there. I think when we were preparing for it, we were all really nervous about the idea of standing up and delivering a presentation to loads of high profile, important people who know their stuff about education technology. This also involved speaking individually, and then splitting the audience into groups and stimulating a debate. However, we all performed really well and after we finished (and it went really quick!) there was a big relief, and I was thinking that it wasn’t that bad and I could definitely do it again!

G&G

(Chilled out JC’s after the presentation finished!)

After leaving Warwick Uni, we wouldn’t see each other for about 3 months or so. In this time we had tasks to do in preparation for our next visit and were still keeping that tempo up with the blogs.


October 27th – November 3rd: Our USA trip!! We were in Washington DC for the first half of the week, then New York City for the last few days. This was an amazing experience, as we got to visit a number of organisations and institutions involved with education and technology. These included Google, Jamestown Elementary school, ACE, FOSI, Thomas Jefferson High school and many more. But it wasn’t all hard work! We did loads of sightseeing, and visited so many places, including the White House, Wall Street, Ground Zero and the top of the Rockefeller! I even met Waka Flocka Flame (the rapper) outside our hotel in NYC!

WWF


Even though everything was amazing, one of the (many) highlights was visiting Randle Highlands Elementary School. This was a school in the east side of Washington DC, and many of the students were victims of distressing social issues, such as crime and violence. But what really stood out for me was the Principal, Tracy Foster. She maintained belief that every child can be successful, and she made sure all the staff followed this practice. She was an amazing person, who really cared about the students and the school!

Randle

RHES

(With Principal Foster)

So we’ve made our trips and visits, built up many skills and are ready for the final stretch of our project. The next bit is the report writing. The report will summarise everything we’ve done and all the data we’ve collected, and most importantly, contain the recommendations we choose to make for the future of education and the internet. These will influence policy makers all over the world…which is an incredible thing to be able to do!


Aside from the actual Junior Commission project, me, Danish and Anne were asked to present at the Maths Matters Conference being held at Warwick Uni on 11-12th December 2013. Again for me, it was a short taxi ride, whilst Anne had to get on a plane, and Danish was present at the conference via Skype. This was quite nerve-wracking at first, the idea of standing up on our own in a big lecture theatre, with so many people from all over the world watching us. And also preparing our speeches to fit them in the hour was quite tricky! But we smashed…all 3 of us, and the positive comments from the audience afterwards made it all worthwhile! I still remember having to stop myself laughing during the presentation when Anne said ‘life changing!!’ She’ll know what I mean!

MMC

(Me, Anne and Danish presenting)

Overall, the whole experience has been amazing. I’ve been able to work with an inspiring team that I know are going to be life friends. I’ve also developed so many skills that have helped me this year. For example, I was able to talk about this loads when I was writing my UCAS personal statement for applying to university. When I had medical school interviews for the universities, they would ask me to give them an example of me displaying a certain skill or characteristic. I was easily able to give them an answer, because I just talked about this whole project, as it has improved so many skills, such as confidence, team working and leadership.


So what’s next for me? Well, I’m over 18 now so I should be getting kicked off the IGGY site (it’s only for 13-18 year olds!)…nah, only joking….who knows!! But I am going to the IGGY office on Tuesday (29th April) to interview Sir Michael Barber, chief education advisor for Pearson! Then in May and June I’ve got my final A Level exams, and hopefully be heading to university in October at Imperial College London.

Rockefeller

(On top of the Rockefeller, NYC on Halloween)

That’s it for now, thank you for reading!


Sathyam


April 24, 2014

The curtain falls….by Jurgen Woodbine

Hello everyone,


And welcome to my last blog… Despite that all of our blogs consist of explaining and introducing difficult and versatile organisations I think this will be the most difficult one to write and also the last one. It makes me sad when I think about it, but let’s not get depressed since there’s a long road I’ve walked to get here and I want to share it with you guys. Though you pretty much have already heard it from Danish who found it necessary to take and write about all the cool stuff.


I guess I will start off with how all of this began. It began one week after I had exams and my brains were already boarding to go on holiday. Sadly they had to cancel their flight because I had called them back so we could write about something very interesting. My English teacher informed me about an online learning and debate platform called IGGY, so I went ahead to check it out. Once I got there I was stunned about the online community, the diversity of topics being discussed and above all the effort that was being put into creating such a safe online environment. I had never seen and experienced anything like it and when I got word you could sign up to meet all of these people I didn’t even hesitate for a second and started writing an essay about perhaps one of the most active topics this day: Education & The Internet. Seeing that I’m a student who uses the internet and the devices that come with it almost every day . At school we use technology for a whole bunch of things and we use the internet as a source of information, for example: we have access to computers after school so that we can work on our own projects or to access our webmail and see if there any changes in our schedule during the week. These are just two examples of how we make use of technology but there are so many possibilities it’s amazing to have seen such examples from all around the world.


I started writing down my own experience about how technology was being used at my school and how I benefitted from it. After typing and modifying my essay for almost two days I pressed submit and so the waiting game began. It was really nerve wrecking let me tell you I had no nails left by the end of it. And then one day when I was working I got an e-mail saying:

CONGRATULATIONS!

You have been selected for the IGGY Junior commission course of 2013!


At the time I was on summer holiday and I had found a summer job, my mind was completely blown away and I just sat there for 5 minutes in complete silence until my employer walked up to me and asked me why I wasn’t doing anything I looked at him and told him: I quit! Oh no, wait, that didn’t actually happen I think that’s from a movie. Anyway I explained him what I did and what happened and after telling him he gave me the rest of the day off which was nice of him. I rushed home and couldn’t wait to tell everyone what happened.


Starting our course as Junior commissioners might not have been the easiest one. After all you’re meeting up with ten complete “strangers” and trying to build a team which you can rely on for an entire year. After meeting up at the airport in London Heathrow we left for The University of Warwick where the IGGY team had planned a week full of teambuilding activities. I think I never got close with people that quickly but thanks to a whole bunch of teambuilding workshops and fun evening activities we managed to build a strong and hard working team which would be the foundation for a yearlong research based project. And with this team I feel like I can take on the world and which is kind of true actually.

Our first encounter

Our first ever meeting at Heathrow Airport in June 2013

I think one of the most challenging parts of being a Junior commissioner was speaking in front of an entire audience of experts at the Global and Gifted Conference at the University of Warwick and making sure that your story comes across in the right way and to get people interested. It was very hard to do so but luckily we had a workshop on how to speak publicly and how to conduct an interview which was a great help for this experience. Looking back on this conference I feel like it made me grow as a person. I felt very mature while answering our questions and debating afterwards.

Global and Gifted conference

Taken at the Global and Gifted Conference 2013

If I had to choose one activity which stood out for me during my year as a Junior Commissioner it would have to be our visit to ACE ( ) while we were in Washington DC. Let me tell you a bit about how I experienced visiting them. We were walking through Washington when suddenly Louise said that we had arrived at our destination. We stopped in front of a huge building and my jaw just dropped. We went inside and everyone one of us got a really cool guest pass. We stepped into the elevator and went all the way to the top floor, I was getting really excited! As we arrived on the top floor Cathy Sandeen, Ms. Morris and their interns were waiting for us to give us a warm welcome. And just when you think things couldn’t get any better there was an amazing lunch with a whole bunch of sandwiches and they were really good( And let me tell you I know my sandwiches). After our belly’s were filled with all delicious kinds of food we got a very broad and useful presentation which included several subjects such as MOOCs and flipped classrooms. Since they are such a big organization they have a lot of up to date info about education in America which means they also had a lot of interesting statistics in their presentation. After the presentation we got the chance to interview them and also ask a couple of questions which was a really big help towards our report! Sadly we couldn’t stay forever because both parties had busy agenda’s for that day. And so I left with a satisfied and radiant feeling . You can read about ACE here and you can also read our blog about ACE.

the American Council on Education

Meeting CEO, Cathy Sandeen at The American Council for Education in Washington D.C.

After an entire year of hard work I feel comfortable saying that we already have achieved a lot and left our mark behind. It’s amazing to look back on everything that I have done and what I’ve learned. In the beginning of this course my English vocabulary was great but when it came down to having an actual conversation or speaking out loud I often could hear my horrible Dutch accent. But after spending just one week with everyone it was completely gone. Which shows that practice is key and that we should this more in school as well. In our week at Warwick we also learned how to conduct a interview this was taught by Adam Boddison. I think this is one of the most useful skills I learned while being a Junior Commissioner. All of us have done several interviews with visionaries and experts on the area of Technology & Education and therefore I think it was very valuable for us to meet up at Warwick University.

The Junior Commission

Carrying out research in Washington D.C.

What’s next!? Up next is our report which will be published at the End of May. At the moment we are very busy going through all of our gathered info and research which is quite a lot, luckily we got help from our Junior Commission researcher, Lauren Bell. She is helping us wrap up our research and create a very clear and structured report, therefore I think our final report will be a great success. By creating our own report we hope to intrigue or perhaps stimulate teachers and governments to think about which way is the best way to integrate technology into education and what the future of the internet beholds. I think our report stands out because you usually see experts and politicians write about what students want but you never actually hear it from the students themselves. And that’s exactly what we are doing, each and every one of us represents a country and their students , we know what their struggles are and what they really need or want. As I said I just hope to inspire people and open up the eyes of influential people who can really make a difference.


Okay guys this is it, this is where I say goodbye to everyone who has been reading our blogs for the last time….. until we share our report with you very soon that is, who knows – I may be back after all. Although this account of my experience marks the end of my stint as a Junior Commissioner, we hope that our legacy will live on and we can influence the world of education and make a difference. Therefore, it is not really the end of the Junior Commission after all.


Goodbye


In the words of Daft Punk “The game has changed”.


Jurgen



April 17, 2014

The unutterable beauty of … (written by Anne–Eléonore Deleersnyder)

Dear valued readers,


The only word I actually find appropriate when looking back at my last year is: “unbelievable”. “Unutterable” and “ineffable” might work too.

The unbelievable beauty of growing and changing thanks to an experience. I am still Anne-Eléonore Deleersnyder, the curious French girl eager to discover, but I am one year older than when it started (presently 16 years old), and have achieved goals that enabled me to think and work differently. Thanks to my membership acquired around October 2013, offered by IGGY as I had been long-listed for the IGGY and LITRO Short Story Competition, I was able to discover all what this educational website offers – textual, visual, audio content to learn, communicate and being challenged in a fun and academic environment. In between the numerous debates and challenges, one of them offered the possibility for members coming from all round the globe to become part of the Junior Commission.

The unutterable feeling when discovering a project that attracts you – a topic that is made for you – a yearlong challenge you wish to fulfil. I immediately wanted to apply to be a Junior Commissioner, as I knew it would be an incredibly enriching experience, on an academic level but also on a social level. In effect, ten teenagers coming from different countries, with varying backgrounds and personalities, would work together with a common goal and a shared love for knowledge acquired and knowledge given. Additionally, I was attracted by the perspective of becoming an expert on a specific subject. The 2013 / 2014 theme was “Internet and Education” – an attractive topic for a young girl questioning the educational system she is raised in. In effect, issues regarding nowadays teaching methods, but also regarding how Internet is reshaping the world, had already intrigued me, and I had written several papers on this topic in my “Literature and Society” class. Several debates were raging on in my country about changing the traditional educational system, and I was eager to debate around this matter. Moreover, as the MOOC industry was growing and slowly reaching my country, I was already exploring platforms such as edX, Coursera or Khan Academy in order to broaden my knowledge and experience - a new type of learning that revealed itself beneficial. Henceforth, I have been able to study subjects that were far from the ones I could explore in my school curriculum, with internationally-known teachers and experts who gave online lectures and assignments. Being able to work wherever I wanted, whenever I wished, at my own pace, made the experience enriching and exiting. Passing an online examination and receiving a Certificate was both rewarding and motivating. If the change was slow and hard to achieve in my country, I was also aware of other challenges awaiting in other nations – particularly developing countries.

The ineffable moment when, by a sunny afternoon – the 26 of April 2013 – an e-mail arrives congratulating you for officially being selected to endorse the role of Junior Commissioner. And it began. A year full of intellectually stimulating challenges, with nine other people I wish to be lifelong friends with. Indeed, carrying out research, debating, blogging, brainstorming, creating around a subject made the Junior Commission an impassioning project. When we first began, we had to do a location based research, on how internet was used in our countries – this was the very first approach I made. I discovered by reading reports, articles and watching videos the path that was taking France: two extensive reports had been published by the right-wing politician Jean-Michel Fourgous, proposing clear measures on how France should implement technologies into its schools, highlighting its benefits and raising awareness about the possible negative consequences. I also carried out interviews with students and teachers, alongside with surveys I created in order to have quantitative results. Afterwards, each of us shared our reports, and we were able to broaden our approach on the topic.

The unbelievable feeling of excitement when meeting each other for the first time – how conversations can gradually give birth to friendships and how common experiences can tighten up bonds between people. A whole week spent together in order to better know one another, as well as to train ourselves individually and as a group to various skills. We also prepared our session we had to give to the Global and Gifted Conference 2013.

Group work -- Anne-Eléonore Deleersnyder

I was able to enjoy the experience to coordinate the ideas of Junior Commissioners when preparing the conference, a tough job as creative and clever ideas fused from both sides of the table from steaming-with-activity brains. As someone both inventive and methodized, I was able to make decisions, selections and tackle problems, with the group. Thursday 4th of July came by smiling and we delivered our conference – feelings of overwhelming energy, excitement, happiness and proudness all mixed up together to give the most amazing day ever. Attending other conferences and meeting experts was also part of our intellectually stimulating day.

Global and Gifted Conference

A month of research followed – and then the unutterable feeling came back – came back for a whole week – a whole week spent with the Junior Commissioners in Washington DC and New-York. If you are a daily reader, you probably read dense summaries about our visits and meetings, interviews and researches. Each day, we visited schools or organizations in order to broaden our research, and interviewed specialists, experts and professionals. Working sessions aimed in the development of our final report were held – and at the end of the day, incredible activities were offered to us.

Jamestownelementary -- Anne-Eléonore Deleersnyder

Visiting James Town Elementary School, interacting with students and interview Camilla Gagliolo

Visiting Randle Highlands Elementary School was an experience that really stood out for me, as we were able to see first-hand how Internet and technology could improve the learning experience of children with difficulties, issued from lower-income families and where school was their real proper home. A rotation system allowed a more personalized and stimulating learning experience. Students would spend time working with computers with online exercises that would adapt the level of activities according the student’s abilities. Afterwards, time would be spent with an instructor in little groups where a human-to-human relationship was established, and where the teacher had a role of “guide on the side” rather than “sage of the stage”: accompanying the student, helping him individually, having small groups, rather than giving a traditional lecture to a whole class.

American Council on Education

Visiting ACE (American Council on Education) and interviewing Cathy Sandeen

The Lion King -- Anne-Eléonore Deleersnyder

One of the incredible activity offered to us: watching the Broadway show The Lion King

Another incredible challenge was offered to the Junior Commission: to present our project to 70 delegates coming from all around the globe, to the Mathematics Matters Conference 2013 (11th-12th of December). Danish was virtually present by Skype, and Sathyam came at the University of Warwick and I travelled from France to join him. Therefore, three members were representing the entire group: we delivered a presentation showing our research so far, our experiences and our goals for the future. We found it challenging to condense all the information in a one hour speech, and practices were necessary to coordinate our speeches. However, it was an enriching experience, and we had the opportunity to attend other conferences as well as talk with the delegates, whose encouragements were real incentives to us.

Mathematics Matters Conference 2013 -- Anne-Eléonore Deleersnyder

Sathyam and I representing the Junior Commission at the Mathematics Matters Conference 2013

After this amazing week, the incredibly dense period of report-making began. More interviews were carrie out: I had the chance to interview Jean-Michel Fourgous – yes, precisely the right-wing mayor I was referring to previously, who carried out the two extensive researches on how Internet is implemented in education in France – a chance I consider as an honour, for which I am extremely grateful. Constantly deepening our research, gathering more data, analysing answers from questionnaires, comparing and contrasting answers from “visionaries” from our different countries, creating recommendations, the work was varied and intellectually rich. Looking back on all the skills I developed – and am developing – the list is quite long, and I could not mention them all. Ranging from analysing skills to creativity skills, including individual and group work capacities, debates and discussion, presentation and summarizing, research and interviews, confidence and maturity skills – the experience trained me and gave me lifelong skills that will be useful to me in the future. As my side-notes for Universities applications are taking more and more space, I think these skills will help me in my university life – and then, in my professional career.

We are currently working on our report and it will be available soon – it will include our findings and our suggestions. Here is a little preview of one recommendation I already want to share with you - well, only a short bit of information, you will have to read our report for more! But here it is: I am particularly interested in gamification, as many experts argue it can “save our broken education system”. Shravan Goli argues gamification could develop certain skills the current traditional educational system fails to teach. For example, the so-called “soft skills”, including leadership, communication and collaboration skills. According to Doctor James Paul Gee, video games are essentials for an optimum learning: they give to the students the ability to share tactics and experience with “motivation, clear goals, interpreted outcomes and immediate detailed feedback”. According to Shravan Goli, entrepreneurship may be taught effectively with a multi-player fame format and games involving collaborative features and user-generated environment. Furthermore, gamification provides an experience-based and context-based learning, thus “enhancing both engagement and retention” and providing a “contextual hub that makes the subject interesting”, according to Ollie Bray. With game-based learning, the student learns from their errors with less frustration, correcting them immediately. Moreover, with digital games, the students have a fun experience and are gratified, as they earn points or master a skill. Michael Shannon (teacher in San Francisco Bay) observes a higher motivation of pupils when using games: according to him, they “forget they’re receiving a lesson (…) they’re just having fun”. Overall, gamification is a very important issue for the Junior Commission: in a world where disillusioned professionals are calling for an educational revolution, we advocate a change in the way we approach education, where we could use new tolls and techniques.

 What is incredibly fantastic with the Internet, is that I was able to keep in touch with the other Junior Commissioners through the use of social media. Oh – I know – I keep saying it, but the more time flashes by the more I cannot say anything but this:

The unutterable beauty of the working experience, the unbelievable feeling of friendship – and missing the others, the incredible memories and skills that will stay with me everlastingly, as the strange and burning remembrance of miracles stays within the complex human being. I will miss it – definitively. And I can get very poetic when I start missing people, things, moments.

United in diversity -- Anne-Eléonore Deleersnyder

United in diversity : the ten Junior Commissioners and Louise Lochee-Bayne (our amazing Project Manager) in New-York

Representing France -- Anne-Eléonore Deleersnyder

Representing France in this international commission was both gratifying and enriching. I will never forget this experience. Washington DC

It always goes back to the ineffable happiness of being part of a project like this one,
Thank you for reading this blog,
Your French Commissioner,
Anne-Eléonore


“The orgastic future that year by year recedes before us (…) To-morrow we will run faster, stretch our arms farther …” – The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald


April 15, 2014

We've Come So Far (Rachael)

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the junior commission blog! Sadly, this is the last blog I am going to be writing as a junior commissioner. Last week, Danish kicked off a new series of JC blogs. He spoke about his JC experience and now it's my turn.

Let's rewind to the 26th of April 2013, at 7:59:46pm (Australian time)...

It was a Friday and as a typical teenager, I was relaxing and daydreaming about the fact that I had a whole two days of relaxation and doing nothing ahead of me. It was (finally) Friday. And this feeling has not changed since then. I was probably laying on my bed playing some sort of game on my iPod of two years, when it alerted me that my school email address had one new email. 'Here we go,' I thought, 'one of my teachers doesn't want me to relax this weekend.' So, annoyed, I went to my emails and probably jumped about three feet into the air when I saw what was there. In case you might not have guessed, it wasn't a teacher who doesn't believe in relaxation, but a nice woman named Louise whos email has changed my life. Who even knew that an email could actually change a life? I certainly didn't, but never again will I underestimate the power of the email.

I remember that when I was applying for the junior commission, I almost missed the deadline. I was about halfway through applications when I forgot about it and it wasn't until it was almost too late that I was finished applying. I hadn't thought it was a big deal when I applied anyways, I had been told I should do it, and when I read a bit more about it, I got more enthusiastic and actually thought it was worth a shot. But I knew it would be tough and that if I got in, it wouldn't be by much and I would really have to get involved in it. I had myself prepared for the worst so as not to get too downhearted if it just wasn't my turn, but I then got shortlisted and had an interview where I was as nervous as a fish out of water. The email that I got that said I was shortlisted was the second best of my life. And then on Friday the 26th of April, I got the best email of my life, so far.

And the journey began. We had tasks set for us from day one, still ongoing today. It became a major aspect of my life, and still is as we are in the most important time yet. I have gained so much from this amazing experience. Speaking at the global and gifted conference and being the interviewer rather than the interviewee (I think that's how it goes) has made me a lot more confident. Just the other day, I got an A for public speaking - something I was lacking on before the junior commission. We have achieved so much as a group. I have learnt to collaborate with others, to research and write reports, and I swear my vocabulary is quite a lot longer than before the junior commission. But not only the academic aspect, but I have also made 9 new friends from all over the world. We bonded so well so quickly, I didn't think it was possible. I totally expected awkwardness and all down to business, but it was fun from day one. Yes, even when I was jet lagged and basically falling asleep in the restaurant the first night in England.

Rachael

A particular experience that has been a stand out is when we visited America and went to Jamestown Elementary School. It was so great to see them using the internet and technology and that they were getting so much out of it. The main thing I remember from that amazing school is when we saw a blind boy, who was the greatest character and the sweetest little boy, using an iPad with the assistance of a teacher. And it really worked. That, for me, was when the realisation struck that the internet really can help and simply has to be used in education.

at jamestown

Another standout for me was also in America, and it was seeing 'The Lion King' on Broadway. I want to relive it every single time I think about it. I remember just wanting it to go on forever. It was so amazing and the people who acted the parts had some of the best voices I have ever heard. I remember everything from where abouts we sat in the theatre, to Anne and I getting stressed outside thinking we were taking too long getting our drinks and might miss the show, to the amazingness of their voice. It's an experience I'll never ever forget.

I also had the amazing opportunity to not only meet a rep from MIT Media Lab, but to interview him. Thanks to Amos Blanton from Scratch at MIT Media Lab for a great interview - it was a great experience for me. This organisation has been so important for our research as they have a group 'Lifelong Kindergarten' which focuses on education and the internet. Check out MIT Media Lab here: http://www.media.mit.edu/ Lifelong Kindergarten here: http://llk.media.mit.edu/ and Scratch here: http://scratch.mit.edu/

The biggest challenge in this whole experience for me was probably when we spoke at the global and gifted conference. I have always been the kind to get really nervous when I have to speak in front of people publicly, but when it's a group of smart and educational adults, and having to speak before or after another junior commissioner, it was really nerve-wracking. But somehow, I don't even know how, I got through it. I just went up there and spoke, and I wasn't stuttering or shaking like I thought I'd be. I was confident and present as I'd hoped to be. And afterwards, I wasn't glad it was over, as I expected, but proud and wanting to do it over again.

conference

The report is in progress and coming alone finely. We had a web chat just on Saturday afternoon (night for me) and we have discussed some very important details so that we can really get into the report. It's going to be great when we are finished with it! We each had to pick five recommendations to include in the report that we thought were most important and one of mine is to develop/fund/do/support/research to create new methods of teaching especially for special needs students or students with disabilities. I chose this as my important recommendation because I think it is so important, and because I saw at Jamestown Elementary School that it doesn't have to be hard for disabled students to learn. I look at it this way, just because he wasn't born without such good sight as anyone else, or she was born with a disability, just because they are being who they are shouldn't mean they can't achieve what everyone else can to their own standards, perhaps even greater. And that's why I think it's so important.

Our next steps in the junior commission pretty much involve: the report. Not to say there isn't a lot to be done, because the next few weeks are going to be hectic! But it's going to be so worth it all when we finalise that report and send it out. You should be looking forward to it! I know we are!

I can't leave without my own acknowledgements. So first off, thank you to Warwick University for giving us the wonderful website called IGGY. It has been a life-changer for me, as I'm sure it will be in generations to come. Thank you to all who gave us lessons whilst we were in the UK - I have learnt so much from each and everyone one of them. Thanks to every school and organisation we visited whilst in the US, each of you has played a huge part in our research and we thank you for that. Thank you to Adam, for helping look after us when we were in the UK (because we are such a handful, right?). To Richard for walking around for ages in New York with Sathyam, Jurgen and I waiting for a taxi to finally take us to our accommodation (I swear my legs are longer just from trying to keep up with you guys) and for being the child parent who didn't want to be left alone with us in fear of having to be very responsible. And Graeme for being a great addition to our lively crew. You were so nice and we all had great conversations with you. It was good to have someone there to talk to in times of need. It was great to share that experience with both of you. Also to Lord Jim Knight for all that you have done for us. It was a pleasure to meet you and good luck in your new role.

Lord Jim Knight

To the 9 other junior commissioners. Aateka and our selfies in hope to actually get a picture of the war veterans walking behind us (they turned out pretty well though!). Beatrix and hanging around with me doing nothing at the airport in Washington while we waited it out. Lindsey and being like my big sister the whole time. Kamo and sharing that amazing bedroom with me - you were a fun roomie. Anne and making some new friends at Broadway while waiting in line to buy some drinks. Sathyam and telling me that I'mthe one who has the accent. Danish and our hair germed plane ride together (it's nothing to worry about - you're still alive(it's an inside joke). Jurgen and dressing up in hopes to impress Google. Gabriel and Julius Caesar, I thank you for that wonderful gift and wonderful memories. Thanks to all of you for being a part of the most amazing year of my life. I couldn't have hoped for a better group of people to work with.

Gifts

And last but certainly not least, Louise. Yes, I'm talking about the same Louise who sent the life-changing email ;). I don't even know where to start. Words can't express how thankful I am to you, but I'll give it a go. From day one, you have been guiding me through. I was scared at first that I wouldn't be up to this, but you changed my mind. Every FRIDAY email, every web chat, has all been such dedication from you. This whole experience has been the best thing ever, and it's you who was a major part in making it so. Thank you for looking after us, for helping us, you have been amazing!

So it is with sadness in my heart, because this blog is such a big part of the whole experience, that I say thank you and farewell.

IGGY pic

For the last time,

Your Aussie Commissioner,

Rachael :)


April 11, 2014

366 – (Written by Danish) – UPDATED

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UPDATE:

{Authors note: I've always loved Soundtrack, movie and game sound scores, I love how they always add to a moment to make them that much better. That much deeper and more emotionally stimulating. So for this blog I'd like to recommend that you play this in the background while you read, from one of my favorite composers, something that I think makes the blog a little bit more of an exprience. Also, it's a fairly mellow tune so it won't distract you.

Hans Zimmer - Time:

(https://soundcloud.com/hasancalis/hans-zimmer-time)

Right click and open in a new tab, then press play. And it'll be worth it to read slower if you can make it to the end to the track by the end, there's another one waiting for you there anyway. And when it ends I'd recommend to close the tab before the next one starts playing. Try to keep the tone one way only.}

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April 10th 2013, 3:48 AM - You see a little boy putting the final touches on an important essay, possibly one of the most important so far in his life, apart from exams of course. After the millionth re-read and the final change from “is” to “was”, this boy presses the submit button and with that, ends the two day frenzy for the whole submission process involving essays and actually, plenty of surprises.

I’m trying to keep the words down in this so I can’t include those but maybe over the summer we’ll do a prequel. Actually, you know what? I will. Look forward to that.

But getting back to the little boy, he sent off the necessaries and after a surprise shortlisting and interview, gets back into the exam routine, they are coming up fast, he hates exams. And then on 26th April, after firing up his PC from sleep to pull a marking scheme for a recently finished past paper. He accidentally hits the ‘gmail’ bookmark and before realizing what just happened. He is looking at one of the best emails he's ever received. It goes a little something like this:

“Dear Little Boy (not really),

CONGRATULATIONS,

You have been selected as a Junior Commissioner for the University Of Warwick. . . . . .” This little boy is stunned, this little boy is speechless and this little boy never really got around to checking that paper after all.

And today, exactly 366 days after he sent of the applications and essay, this little boy sits here and writes this. The boy had the pleasure to start off the IGGY blog, and today he is going to start a series of blogs that are going to end it. I think its time to pull the cat out the bag, that little boy is none other. . . . .than your's truly (shocker right?), although at least I can finally stop writing “this little boy”.

Let’s go back to the start . . . . . oh wait I just did that . . . . . alright lets go back to the start, again. How did this all come about? I’ll skip the finding out through school and all but I will talk about why being a part of this was something I wanted dearly.

First off, I love technology, if you haven't found out already through my previous blogs. I love it to death, and having a long history with it meant that I might be able to play a part in it's future. That idea was pretty cool I thought, and moreover. I knew that being a part of an international team, going places, doing things would provide a good amount of exposure, experience, and feed right into my confidence as a person and expand what I knew about the world.

I was wrong. A good amount would truly be an understatement. And then there was the topic itself. I’ve said this before many times, heck, I actually think I said it in the first blog too, if I can recall correctly. Education is what will change the world the most in time, moving into the future. And being able to work towards that change being a positive one in a way that ties in one of my favourite things on the planet was basically a dream come true.

So what have I been doing over the year? Well, I’ve met 9 other truly amazing personalities from around the globe, and made friendships that will last long after our report is published (more on that in a bit). I’ve seen first-hand just how much is being done in the educational sector, to improve and evolve it. And I’ve been inspired by how hard people around the world are working for it’s betterment by visiting companies at the forefront of this charge, the American Council of Education, Google, FOSI etc etc. And I was able to set foot on one of the best Universities in the World, Warwick.

Meeting true visionaries everywhere and really, just very, very awesome people. All while learning more and more about technology and having my eyes opened wider and wider at what I discovered. Hopefully it’ll be the same for you when you read through our report. The ingenuity of man really never ceased to amaze over the year. In person and during my own research.

One experience that really stood out, and this is a tad hard to pick when you have things like Google on the plate (I think that speaks for itself anyway) was at the Jamestown elementary school. Visiting the classes with the 1:1 iPad programs in action. It’s a pilot program so I think the kids had probably grown accustomed to visitors by then, but their confidence when they were showing us their work on the iPads (entire stories drafted and made into videos at the end) was pretty great to see.

The iPad meant that they could flush out the own creativity so well, that it just made more self-assured and confident. I was blown away as the first graders, displayed such a level of determination and, excuse the repitition, confidence when they all explained the whole process of their work and were basically showing it off. I came away with a pretty big smile on my face. I think we all did. And this went a long way to further solidify our faith in the topic matter. Technology has tremendous amounts of potential - (http://www.apsva.us/jamestown)

It is said, that no journey is complete without troubles, and this was no exception. The research was vast and expansive over the year and there were plenty of hard times. I think the hardest thing for to do was really just get started with the research and pick a point to begin with after we all came back from the UK. At the time there wasn’t much going on as we transitioned with our background research (pre-trip) to active research and I was worried that we might waste too much time if we didn’t start soon. Which is when I decided to come up with a plan to get us off the ground, and soon enough once the wheels were turning we were back up to speed.

If I could pick another part, I guess the Video we all had to make for IGGY was a pretty long task as well. I wanted to have the video continuous to make it more natural (rather than multiple parts joined together in the edit), I also wanted to say a lot and have it made at a particular point in my house where the light was perfect for only about 40 minutes before it was too dark. Let's just say, that to make the 4 minute video, I have about an hour or two of me forgetting my name and mixing up the lines on tape. Once I get the exams over with, in a month or two, I plan to make a montage and see how much I can make the world laugh.

Now that is all that I saw and experienced, but how has this incredible year changed me as a person you ask? Well, I’ve always loved public speaking and I’ve been doing it for a long time but having been able to do so twice at the University (once in person and once over Skype) to professional high profile audiences and more in the same fashion with all the people we met, talking to them and interviewing them, has boosted my confidence a long way and really. . . I’m sure these mile long blogs helped in some ways as well (along with the all the writing for the report)!

So I think I’m more confident than I was before and more self-assured too, and hopefuly a tad brighter too. In a line, it has redefined to me what is possible and what’s not in today’s world and that in turn has made me more open and aware. I can’t thank IGGY enough for that.

Coming to the meat of it all. Our report. It is indeed in progress and we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel now, you’ll be hearing more about it as the weeks go by and when you can expect it to be published. With our recommendations to schools and all. There will of course, be a lot of them in the final report but right now. I think I can talk a bit about one of the few that I put forward. One that has to do with gamification. Personally I love the idea that by integrating some elements into work, you can make someone want to do it more. The addition of friendly competition into a simple work place environment can make everyone sit up straighter and work harder. Also what we can do with it once we have a game-like system in place. The more you make their virtual points worth (the reward for doing well in the “game”), the more powerfully you can use the system to aid with incentive for work and the report is going to cover that in good detail. I can’t wait for you all to read it!

And now comes the hard part, the goodbye, the very last one perhaps. Before I go though, I have a lot of people to thank. Adam, Richard and Graeme for joining in during the trips. You were truly amazing to be with and you made the trips that much more fun and enlightening. I can’t imagine them without you guys!

To everyone at IGGY, that we met and everyone that we didn’t. It’s something I’ve already defined in that 4 minute video, and I end it by saying . . . “IGGY is just pure awesome” and it’s because of every one of the amazing people over at Senate house that it is, the way it is. So Dan, Dr. Adam, Adrian Hall, Jan, Dickie, Ben, Jo, Jo and Peter. It was an honor to be able to meet you and I want to say that you guys make me proud to be an IGGY member and be part of something so amazing.

And then there is of course, our Project Manager, Louise. Truly one of a kind, she’s been there during the highs and lows, always supportive, always helpful, and always cheerful. She’s a marvel to have planned out the EPIC trips that we had last year and really the most understanding person you could ever hope to meet. Thank You for everything Louise, and once we wrap all this up within the next few months I hope you can say you’re proud of us.

I’d also like to thank Lord Knight for everything he was a part of. From the large amount of Webchats, to the tour of the house of Lords. Sir, I said this before and I think I might have to say it again. "Coolest. Lord. Ever."

And this is the only picture I have with him, which is great because I picked a great time to do my ridiculous face. Ah well, it'll still be timeless though.

Danish - Lord KNight

Now as we look to the future, I guess we could have one more look at the past. The glorious past and more importantly in this case, the funny past.

This one is where Beatrix cleverly noted that Aateka does a perfect demonstration of how to swat a fly, and Jurgen shows off the ancient skill of sleeping, during the millisecond it takes to snap the picture. He claims it’s very refreshing. But Samsung’s new phones have modes to avoid that now, he sticks with HTC mainly because of that.

Final Blog 1

This next one is truly "awesome", you’ll notice how we’re all supposed to be talking to one another and everyone’s doing a great Job of that. I mean this looks completely authentic. But then you look at the top left corner. Yeah . . . . . Jürgen and I. Somehow I don’t think we come across as the conversationalist types in this one. I wonder why. A prime example of why burst shot camera modes can get you a slightly less. . . . . ."awesome" picture.

fINAL bLOG 2

I think the best one we have. It’s easy to see why, we’re all excited cause we’re going to Google. You thought we were smiling for the camera? You were badly mistaken. But being wrong aside, it is pretty awesome, unlike the one above though.

Final Blog 3


The following is a personal favorite. It’s called "I can tweet faster than you". And if either of them are after me for the picture now, I’d just quickly like to mention that I didn’t take it. So . . . .yeah one of the other ten would probably be your best bet.

Final Blog 4

I’d throw in a lot of others, the Google one especially but I think I may be out of space here and I still have a thing or two to say. Don’t worry, you can hit up our twitter for that, the link is on the right of the page. Plenty more to see there.

But I will put this up, happened to me once. Lol right? Sigh, I can't imagine who wouldn't read that much?

If it isn't visible fully, the message reads "Content can only be 32 000 characters, yours is 1,008,264" It was a nice surprise actually, #JustJCThings

Blog Final 5


The future. What’s next when all this is over? Well, I’d like to take over the world, but that may take a while. So I think I’ll stick with keeping up to date with everything that happens in this field, and stay an active IGGY member for a very long time. Hopefully making good use of everything I’ve learnt from this year and becoming something I can be proud of, be someone that makes a difference. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. Wish me luck.

Also, stay very good friends with every one of the nine that I met this year, some of the most gifted people I know, and some of the best and most fun too. Never change guys.

And to everyone I mentioned in this post. Live long . . . and prosper (yeah I love Star Trek, thanks for asking)

So . . . . (and I actually have a catch in my throat while writing this) . . . one last time eh? Let's do it.

blogggggg.jpg

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . . . . . it’s been an honor. Thank You IGGY and Warwick for the fact that I was able to uphold it.

----

{Authors note 2 : Now if you played the Hans Zimmer Track, it should hopefully have pulled on your Heart Strings. But while It was great for the first bit. I'm going to access my soundtrack chest (I actually do listen to a ridiculous amount of it) for something a with a bit more Grandure. See if this doesn't help.

M83 - Earth 2077

https://soundcloud.com/nick-ter-beek/m83-earth-2077-oblivion-ost

Same way, Right click, open in a new tab, press play and close when done or explore on of course.

Honestly though, I'd recommend you hear the whole thing, It's one hell of an exprience, truly.}

----

Although, It's still missing something . . . . . this may help:

Danish Final update

Our little, "V" of victory....

....and this -

Danish - Last



IGGY

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