Online learning, open courseware, eBooks, wikis, and many other innovative technologies have forever affected education by connecting any topic in any discipline to any learner in any place. Even individuals in remote communities now can access unlimited information free of charge, if they have an internet connection. This also provides more possibilities for international collaboration, knowledge building, and sharing of best practices.
Drexel University’s School of Education capitalized on these possibilities during its second annual live and online Virtual Symposium, in conjunction with Wainhouse Research and the World Bank Institute’s Global Development Learning Network (GDLN). This year’s Virtual Symposium built upon the theme Education for Everyone: Expanding Access Through Technology.
The symposium highlighted education technology innovations, and it examined challenges to access—for example, among poor and rural communities—and possibilities for overcoming them. A major feature of the symposium was the ability for participants to share experiences among peers in both developing and developed countries.
The symposium’s live events were hosted in two locations: at the World Bank Institute in Beijing and at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Having two centers created a format that encompassed different cultural and regional perspectives as a starting point for the discussion, and these perspectives were woven through the entire program.
A virtual symposium was a perfect venue for hosting a conference of this theme and scope, because of the internet’s ability to overcome the practical limitations of space. Eliminating geographic barriers meant that individuals could participate regardless of their location. As the web helps to overcome the barrier of geography, the number of internet users also has increased, to more than 1.46 billion worldwide—creating unprecedented opportunities to connect with people in every continent and of different social classes.