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Technology Empowering U.S. Diplomacy and Development

Connecting Classrooms in Central & South America and Europe - Panelist Bios

Connecting Classrooms in Central & South America and Europe - Panelist Bios
One of the greatest benefits of improved technology in the classroom is the capability to connect easily around the world. Virtual exchanges and connected classrooms are a reality, allowing students to engage and interact with counterparts on the other side of the globe. How can this capability be fully used? What projects have been implemented that demonstrate the effectiveness of connecting classrooms? Are there specific tools or applications that enhance the experience when connecting with international students? 
Amy Storrow (Moderator) - U.S. Department of State

Amy Storrow is a career Foreign Service officer.  She has served in Mexico, Macedonia, and Latvia.  While in Macedonia and Latvia, she and her team pioneered new programs involving writers-in-residences at American Spaces; the first Youth Advisory Council exchange program; a virtual Meet America program; and a year-long blended exchange program for business incubator personnel with Latvia and Idea Village in New Orleans.  She holds degrees from Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Houston.  Before joining the Foreign Service, Amy worked as a teacher, writer, and editor.

Francisco Cervantes - Open and Distance University of Mexico

Daniel grew up in a family where education was the central theme with his grandparents, parents and extended family working as either teachers, School Principals or in Tertiary Education Departments. Daniel started working in IT and education in 1987 and built the first Education Internet Service Provider in Australia in 1993, he designed and built the first school specific Internet gateway in 1995, and in 1998 he built the first Internet portal that linked logins to Internet activity in a centralised infrastructure, - this development changed the way Internet was managed in Australia. Daniel’s software was used by over 50% of Australian students and all of it was developed on top of Open Source  - before it was fashionable.

Daniel went on in 2000 to conceive, design, and develop an e-learning platform that includes a Personal Portal, Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Learning Content Management System, Federated search, and an e-portfolio for students with WYSIWYG publishing. This software called myclasses won the major software award, the National Australian Internet Industry Association innovation award.  Daniels software was arguably one of the top k-12 e-learning platforms in the world, with over a millions users in five countries including the UK where it is part of the BECTA Learning Platform. 

From 2008 Daniel  Program Lead of Projects for National Schools Interoperability Program – NSIP.

This principal Consulting Contract has been to conceive, initiate and lead the National Schools Interoperability Program (NSIP). Initially funded as a three year program, NSIP aims to facilitate the effective delivery of government and industry digital learning projects across Australia. Specifically, the program aims to improve access to information and digital learning services through more effective linking of information systems across the Australian education sector. Following the end of contact Program review, NSIP’s success secure it increased ongoing support by State, Territory and Commonwealth Governments. NSIP key achievements include; creating a national standard for exchange information between systems, a blue print for collaboration between the different local and national stakeholders, over 24 development projects to support ICT in education, a Cloud Strategy which is the basis of national Australian cloud and the development of the National Identity Management Framework (NIMF) which set out how projects need to securely and authoritatively manage Identify information in the Australian education sector. These have been lead by Daniel.

NSIP is supported by State, Territory and Australian Governments with funding from the Australian Government’s Digital Education Revolution initiative. It has completed 12 Pilot Projects across Australia using SIF and developed the SIF Implementation Specification 1.1 Australia.

Sujeet Rao serves as a Special Assistant in the U.S. Department of Education. In that position, he leads a number of special initiatives at the Department regarding research and development and education technology, including the recently-launched ConnectED initiative. Prior to joining the Administration, Sujeet practiced law in the Washington, D.C. office of O’Melveny & Myers, served as a Founding Fellow of Nashville Preparatory Charter School, and clerked for the Hon. Damon J. Keith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. A Michigan native, Sujeet graduated from the University of Michigan and Yale Law School. 

Jennifer Russel - iEARN-USA

As a Program Coordinator for iEARN-USA, a non-profit organization that facilitates global classroom projects and cross-cultural interactions online, Jennifer designs resources and professional development opportunities for teachers to increase their skills for integrating technology and global, project-based learning in the classroom. She works predominately with educators in the U.S., the Middle East, and North Africa to connect their classes through online collaboration and virtual exchange through the Chris Stevens Youth Network.

Prior to working for iEARN-USA, Jennifer was a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania and China where she taught English as a foreign language at the primary and secondary level and was a teacher trainer.  She holds a Master of Arts from Teachers College, Columbia University in International Educational Development, and a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies from The College of William and Mary.

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