My experience coordinating and attending the SEE Summit in EMEA
By Boris Berlijn
Professor, Ashram College
Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands
The first EMEA SMART Exemplary Educator (SEE) Summit, which took place last week in Hamburg, Germany, was great. Three days of great fun, learning and sharing. There were teachers from 18 different countries in attendance and a few SEEs from Canada and the US were there as ambassadors.
Last year I was invited to the third North American SEE Summit in Calgary, Canada, with five others SEEs from Europe. One of the goals of our participation at the NA Summit was to have a look at the way it was done, pick the best parts of it and make it fit for the EMEA Summit. EMEA is the acronym for Europe, Middle East and Africa, so dealing with all of those countries, different cultures and educational systems made it challenging to organize this type of an event. But we did it. And did it very well!
This past year, with the help of Brigit conferencing software, me and the other European SEEs who attended the NA SEE Summit in 2011, had five or six meetings with Khoi Trinh, SMART’s Education Policy Manager in EMEA, and later with Ainhoa Marcos, SMART’s Education Programs Manager in EMEA to discuss what we wanted the EMEA SEE Summit to look like.
We needed to choose a program pathway so I chose peer education and content creation. I wanted to prepare a presentation on social media, along with something I learned about in 2008 at a SMART conference in Stockholm, Sweden, about using tools (both technology and non-technology related) to get to achieve goals both in and out the classroom. My presentation, Curriculum vs. Creativity, discussed how to be creative using tools other than the usual text books that we are so used to using in the classroom. There are other, better ways to get to that same goal, while also engaging students more than ever.
I had the SEEs do an activity (originally created by Jamie McGachy, a SMART Education Consultant in the UK) using SMART Response interactive response system, that taught them how to count to 10 in Japanese. I wanted to show them that along with reading, listening and motion can help you learn in a different (and in some cases, faster and better) way.
I did the social media presentation with Geoff Robin, SMART’s Team Lead of Web Marketing in EMEA. We discussed the Facebook community for SEEs and I talked about the way I use Twitter in and outside my classroom. I added a SMART Response quiz in both presentations and brought many prizes like flash drives, t-shirts and orange SMART sunglasses for the participants.
In the end, the NA summit and the EMEA summit weren’t that different. But what did stand out was the fact that at the NA Summit, other than a few SEEs from EMEA, the attendees are all from North America. But the EMEA version of the Summit has SEEs from all over Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and that definitely distinguishes the SEE Summits.
We all needed to communicate in one common language – English, which can make it difficult for some attendees, but the Summit environment also encourages people to speak up. It was good to see how quickly all of these international attendees became comfortable with each other.
The SMART staff did a great job from my perspective, integrating attendees into different groups each day and getting everyone involved. Unfortunately the internet connection at the SMART Office in Hamburg was not great, which created a few challenges uploading our best practices or getting on Twitter to tweet about this Summit. But it all worked out OK.
After last years SEE Summit in Calgary, I made notes on things to consider doing, or doing different at the EMEA Summit. And, I’m grateful that most of those things were included in our first Summit. The organizing team worked very well as we planned this Summit. What I especially liked about the EMEA SEE Summit is that we could share and collaborate in small groups.
Attending the Summit in EMEA was not as overwhelming for me as the one I attended last year in Calgary, Canada, because I knew more what to expect and I prepared the agenda. Germany is also not that different and/or epic for me as being in Calgary was. But I’ve experienced both as a very inspirational experience and I would not want to miss out on any SMART Exemplary Educator events in the future.
About the author
Boris Berlijn has been teaching geography since 1998 in secondary education in the Netherlands. He currently teaches at a SMART Showcase School called Ashram College in Alphen aan den Rijn, which was first outfitted with SMART Board interactive whiteboards in 2007. Berlijn is an ambassador of technology in education and of SMART products, in particular, both at his school and within the Dutch government community. In May 2008, he attended the SMART Interactive User Forum in Stockholm, Sweden, which is when he became a fan of other SMART products like SMART Response interactive response system and SMART Ideas concept-mapping software. He also received a SMART Certified Trainer license later that year and is currently completing the SMART Certified Lesson Developer course.
In 2011, Berlijn became an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) and attended the ADE institute in London. That summer, he was also invited to attend the third annual North American SEE Summit in Calgary, Canada. Berlijn is also attending the first EMEA SEE Summit in Hamburg, Germany, where he will present on Curriculum vs. Creativity.