Creating the Preferable Future Through International Collaborative Learning

Technological and communications breakthroughs are creating great disruption for the culture of learning. WFS conference speaker, Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres, is an e-learning pioneer. This Forum discussion explores the benefits, challenges and the future promise of international collaborative learning -- for individuals, communities and humanity. Through programs like the 2011 International CyberFair and the Doors to Diplomacy competitions, youth and educators from 40 countries are making a serious effort to tackle everything from international adoptions, to saving our oceans, to promoting cultural diplomacy with the Muslim world.

What examples of Collaborative Learning have you found successful in your own communities?

Yvonne Marie Andres, president and founder, Global SchoolNet, Educational Activism: Financial Literacy, Encinitas, California

Add your thoughts or post your questions for Yvonne.

More information about WorldFuture 2011

More information about the Education Summit: "Education and the New Normal"

Doors to Diplomacy International Web Project Competition for Mid

*Please Share: Projects Due March 15, 2012

Doors to Diplomacy International Web Project Competition for Middle and High School Students

The US Department of State and announce the 2012 "Doors to Diplomacy" award competition, recognizing the student-created Global SchoolNet Web projects from around the globe that best teach others about the importance of international affairs and diplomacy.

To qualify, middle school and high school students will work in small teams with teacher-coaches. Projects must be completed by March 15, 2012, and winners will be announced in May 2012. Every team that enters a project will receive a special "Doors to Diplomacy" certificate recognizing their achievement. Each student member of the two winning teams – one American and one international – will also receive a $2,000 scholarship and the winning coaches’ schools will each receive a $500 cash award.

For a complete description of the competition and information about eligibility and judging criteria, please visit

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres
President and Founder

Collaborative learning

As teachers, What learning contributions we can offer through the online community?

International Competitions

Educators can help to get the word out about our international competitions. Submissions are due by March 15th.

Doors to Diplomacy: Projects Due March 15
The U. S. Department of State and sponsor the "Doors to Diplomacy" educational challenge - to encourage middle school and high school students around the world to produce web projects that teach others about the importance of international affairs and diplomacy. Each student team member of the winning "Doors to Diplomacy" Award team receives a $2,000 scholarship, and the winning coaches' schools each receive a $500 cash award. Additional prizes may be provided by sponsors.

International CyberFair:

International Schools CyberFair, now in its 15th year, is an award-winning authentic learning program used by schools and youth organizations around the world. Youth conduct research and publish their findings on the Web. Recognition is given to the best projects in each of eight categories. This White House-endorsed program encourages youth to become community ambassadors by working collaboratively and using technology to share what they have learned. Students evaluate each others projects by using a unique online evaluation tool. In partnership with the World Future Society, students are also encouraged to also share their dreams for the future - by thinking about the possible future, the probable future, the preferable future and the preventable future. Projects that best illustrate "future thinking" are invited to the World Future Society international conference in Toronto, Canada, July 2012, WorldFuture 2012: Dream. Design. Develop. Deliver.

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres
President and Founder

The Future and Collaborative Learning

As Bertrand Russell once said 'The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.'
This is a chapter I've just had published in a book by Queensland University called 'The Future and Cooperative Learning.' It addresses issues that may add to this dialogue. I have had a strong work base, for the past 40 years in the belief that the future of the planet lies in cooperation and collaboration rather than competition, aggression, antagonism and the adversarial system which currently drives everything from politics to economics.

The Future and Collaborative Learning

Julie... thanks for joining this conversation AND for sharing your excellent article about the significance of cooperative learning. Global SchoolNet is about promoting content-driven collaboration, so I know that others in my network will be interested in reading your article.

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres
President and Founder

Examples of collaboration beyond traditional learning

Do you know of examples of collaborative learning in your community that go BEYOND traditional education (e.g. business, economic, government, health, environment, public safety, culture and historic preservation)?

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres
President and Founder

Importance of content-driven collaboration

Interview on Charter School Network radio about the importance of content-driven collaboration.

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres
President and Founder

Creating the Preferable Financial Future Through Collaboration

Because of the changing global economics and demographics over the past 40 years, individuals are in need of financial education about managing their personal financial futures. Tackling this task alone, can be very daunting.

Luckily, in the world of pensions and retirement plans, there has been increasing collaboration between the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K. and others, in working together to bring stability to the design and management of employee pension plans. The stakeholders include employers as the plan sponsors; investment management firms; banks; insurance companies; accounting and actuarial consulting firms; software companies; and many firms that provide financial services. The availability in technological innovation can provide better data and more quickly allow for forecasting and modelling of the future. Yet, the gap in financial literacy continues as many employees simply do not have the awareness, the understanding, the interest, the skills and unfortunately, even the motivation to actively engage in learning how to improve their current and future financial status when it comes to employer pension plans.

The good news is that people have tremendous resiliency to adapt and find support to achieve their financial goals as the future continues to change around them. Let's hope that collaboration continues and that everyone benefits from the collective "wisdom of crowds."

CyberFair: The River Rouge Watershed-Ours to Protect

The River Rouge Watershed is located in South Eastern Michigan in the most populated and urbanized area in the whole state. Our school district, Birmingham, is one of those communities located in the River Rouge Watershed. Our watershed is very important because the Rouge drains into the Detroit River which drains into Lake Eerie, one of the Great Lakes. At Birmingham Covington School we are learning to appreciate the air, land and hydrosphere and how to become better environmental stewards. We focus on learning on how to be successful in the 21st century and a major part of our future will involve solving the problems of the past. In class we learn about digital literacy, creative problem solving, productivity and team work. All of these skills helped us to be successful with this project and will help us to be responsible citizens, problem solvers and leaders in the future. hroughout the course of this project we took an interdisciplinary approach. We merged science, language arts and social studies objectives in a way that allowed our students to gain a much deeper understanding of human impact on the environment in the past, present and future. Social studies objectives focused upon how to prepare our students to become responsible citizens, displaying social understanding and civic efficacy. We studied the human condition, how it has changed over time, the variations that occur in different physical environments, and the emerging trends that appear likely to shape the future in an interdependent world and pluralistic, democratic society. Science objectives focused upon ecosystems: the interactions of organisms, the relationships of organisms, biotic and abiotic factors and environmental impact of organisms .We learned about science processes such as inquiry, inquiry analysis, communication, reflection and social implications. This project also complimented our school theme for the year which is “G.E.E.K.ed about learning” (Global Education Engaging Kids) Working collaboratively our students practiced reaching consensus, being politely critical, respecting and utilizing each other’s strengths and differences and fulfilling their roles to be a productive team. Instead of students learning to pass a test, this was an exercise in authentic learning with real meaning and purpose. Technology enabled our students to take charge of their own learning journey. They chose the most appropriate tools to acquire knowledge and then determined an action plan that would achieve something real with the knowledge that included service, leadership and global improvement.

CyberFair presentation at WorldFuture 2011

Watch this short video to learn how Michigan students and their teachers took collaborative action to work to their preferable future.

Dr. Yvonne Marie Andres
President and Founder

Collaborative Learning Through a Common Mission

It has always been my belief that collaborative learning occurs best when "learning" is not the outcome. Rather another highly valued outcome requiring new skills or understanding drives the learning for the larger group. I believe this to be true at all levels of education from kindergarten to the mission design labs at NASA.

At the simplest levels, the "teachable moment" provides educators with student learning motivation as a result of some event that was either skillfully crafted by the teacher or a fortunate turn of events leading to a lesson. For example, kindergarten students notice a rainbow projected on the floor of the classroom and marvel at the beautiful colors. Some of the children know what a rainbow is and share their level of expertise with their classmates, other students want to make connections to other ideas, possibly related to color and light, the arts, weather, etc... The teacher permits the inquiry to continue and guides the children through an exploration where they can each create a level of experience to share with the group. Their exploration of rainbows is interdisciplinary, creative and resulting from a sincere desire to learn through the inquiry process fueled by their curiosity. The end result is greater learning by the entire class with many more outcomes than a singly designed lesson might provide or measure.

While not rainbows, the scientists, engineers and technicians working on the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have also been engaged in a complicated investigation of light and the electromagnetic spectrum. In order to peer further into space to see faint, distant galaxies, this team needed to control how light in particular wavelengths reached their detection devices. In some ways, like the elementary students motivated by the chance occurrence of a rainbow, the JWST engineering design team had a situation presented to them where they each had background knowledge and expertise that individually provided only a part of the learning required to solve the problem they faced.

Each member of the team contributed their expertise in the design process, permitting the entire team to learn new applications and create a new technology with many possible applications outside of astronomy and astrophysics. This effort lead to the design of their solution which is now known as microshutters. You can read more about this NASA mission and microshutters at:

Common Mission Collaboration

Thanks for sharing your ideas Rick. "Common Mission" collaboration is a great example.... especially when it involves socio-political and generational diversity.