Educators in 11 countries came together in April 2016 to engage in their first professional online training course as a part of iEARN’s new BRIDGE (Building Respect through International Dialogue and Global Education) Program. The program is funded by a two-year grant from The Aspen Institute Stevens Initiative to engage educators and students in the U.S. and MENA-region in meaningful dialogue and collaborative project-based learning through the internet.
“This framework opens a window from the classroom to the world and makes it possible for students to travel to other countries virtually but purposefully,” said Hajer Brahem, BRIDGE participant and secondary school teacher in Tunisia.
55 participants complete course from Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, United States, and Yemen. During the 4 week online course, educators learned how to integrate an iEARN project into their classroom by developing a project plan in collaboration with other teachers from the Middle East, North Africa, and the United States. Participants examined various projects suitable for secondary school students around global themes including environment, civic education, peace education, and food security. Following the course, participants expressed that they are more likely to use technology to find materials, collaborate with other educators, and connect virtually with other classrooms.
“To participate in this course was a dream which has become true for me. Through this course, I aim at sharing and exchanging with teachers from other countries constructive ideas to make of our world a better place to live where our differences are no longer obstacles but” the bridge ” that will make us learn from and about each other,” said Zohra Bettayeb, participant and secondary school teacher in Algeria.
In additional to the online course, educators will participate in face-face workshops within their countries. These workshops have already been successfully conducted in Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. The next step for these BRIDGE educators is to connect their students through asynchronous activities that will culminate in videoconference connections and community exhibitions.