Technology Empowering U.S. Diplomacy and Development

Open Education Resources in the Middle East and Beyond - Panelist Bios

Open Education Resources in the Middle East and Beyond - Panelist Bios

Open Education Resources make educational material free and accessible. Many projects and programs have taken advantage of Open Education Resources to expand access to textbooks, videos, and other learning materials for students around the world. One example is the State Department's Open Book Project. How can the department use Open Education Resources to enhance its education programs, especially in the Middle East? Are there examples from other regions of the world that can be applied in this region?

Hal Plotkin (Moderator) - U.S. Department of Education

Hal Plotkin is a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary of Education (OUS), United States Department of Education. The OUS is responsible for all U.S. federal higher education policies and programs. Prior to his appointment to the Obama administration, Mr. Plotkin was a trustee and board president at the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, based in Silicon Valley California, where he shared governance responsibility for two community colleges with a combined enrollment of approximately 45,000 students. Mr. Plotkin is a leading advocate of Open Educational Resources and the author of “Free to Learn” an open educational resources policy development guidebook for higher education governance officials. At the Department of Education, Mr. Plotkin is responsible for providing advice and leadership aimed at accomplishing President Obama’s graduation goal, which is designed to ensure that the United States will once again have the best prepared, most highly educated workforce in the world by 2020. Mr. Plotkin is a writer, editor and media producer by profession who has published more than 600 articles on business, science, technology and education. His publishers include Inc. magazine, Forbes ASAP, Family Business magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle’s, and, where he served as Silicon Valley correspondent.  He is also a founding editor of the American public radio program “Marketplace” and the creator of the non-profit Center for Media Change, Inc., which facilitates public financing of high-quality print and documentary journalism. Mr. Plotkin is a graduate of Foothill Community College in Los Altos Hills, California and San Jose State University with majors in History and Behavioral Sciences, respectively.  He was the first graduate of Foothill Community College to ever serve on its governing board of trustees.



Pendleton Agnew - U.S. Department of State

Mr. Agnew is the Policy and Programs Coordination Officer in the Office of Public Diplomacy of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs at the Department of State.  In this capacity he coordinates with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on the implementation of a variety of exchange programs in the Middle East region.  Mr. Agnew joined the Foreign Service in 1983, and served overseas in Guatemala, El Salvador, Thailand and the Czech Republic in a variety of public diplomacy positions including IO/Press Attaché, Cultural Affairs Officer, and Bi-national Center Director.  In Washington, he has served in the WHA, ECA, IIP and NEA Bureaus in a variety of positions, including PD desk officer for Central America, senior adviser for civic education, and Deputy Director of the Office of Technology Partnerships in the IIP Bureau.


Nicole Allen - Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition

Nicole Allen is OER Program Director at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC). In this capacity, she leads SPARC's advocacy and awareness efforts for Open Educational Resources (OER).  Before joining SPARC, Nicole was already established as a leading figure in the OER movement through her role at the Student PIRGs, where she directed a national campaign to combat the rising cost of college textbooks. Widely cited in the media for her work, Nicole has more than seven years of experience in advocacy and grassroots organizing on OER and related issues.  Nicole graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2006 with a Bachelors of Arts in Philosophy.

Seth Andrew - U.S. Department of Education

Seth Andrew is the Superintendent in Residence and Senior Advisor to US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in the Office of Education Technology. Before joining the Department, Seth founded Democracy Prep Public Schools (DPPS), a rapidly growing network of free, open-enrollment, high-performing public charter schools in Harlem, NY and Camden, NJ. Seth served as principal, as superintendent, and most importantly, as teacher. Since 2005, DPPS has received all "A" grades on the Chancellor's Progress Report. Before DPPS Seth taught and was a special education administrator. After "graduating" from Democracy Prep with is first group of citizen-scholars, Seth has focused on civic education, parent advocacy, and college persistence for low-income families. Most recently, Seth founded Alumni Revolution, a college persistence and advocacy platform working to equip scholars for success in the college of their choice and a life of active citizenship.  Seth attended NYC public schools from K-12, earned his A.B. in Education and Public Policy from Brown University and his Ed. M. in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. 


Richard Rowe - Open Learning Exchange

Dr. Richard Rowe is the Chairman and CEO of the Open Learning Exchange, Inc. (OLE), a social benefit organization (501c3) working with nation-based organizations in the developing world that are committed to ensuring a quality basic learning environment for all of their children. OLE provides an innovative activity-based learning system that includes the use of classroom coaches with open learning resources and scalable low-cost technologies that work off the Internet and can be powered locally. Dr. Rowe received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in clinical psychology and served as Associate Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, as Director of Harvard’s interfaculty Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and Public Practice and Chair of the Center for Studies in Education and Development. Dr. Rowe was Director of the Test Development and Research Office of the West African Examinations Council and has served as a member of the Massachusetts State Board of Education, Chair of the Massachusetts Statewide Advisory Committee for the Office for Children, and as Chair of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education.

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