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Past Conferences - 2001
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1. OBJECTIVES

  The objectives of the inaugural International Teachers' Conference (ITC) were as follows:
  - to promote greater mutual understanding among teachers and educators from
    Asia and Europe through cross-cultural exchanges
  - to encourage the advancement of education through the use of ICT
  - to develop an on-line forum to facilitate joint development of innovative and
    mutually-beneficial education among teachers and pupils of high schools in Asia and Europe
   

2. PARTICIPANTS

  The Conference brought together about 63 teachers and educators from 18 ASEM
countries.*

Participants were selected through the assistance of the ASEF Governors, the respective Ministries of Education and relevant educational institutions in ASEM countries. Applications to participate at the Conference were also received on-line via the AEC website which ASEF created in preparation for the AEC-ITC. The participants were eventually selected based on the quality of their ICT project ideas.

Three eminent speakers, namely Prof Stephen Heppell, Director of Ultralab in the UK, Dr Nancy Law, Director of Centre for IT in School and Teacher Education (CITE) in Hong Kong, and Ms Yeo Hong Mui, Principal of Pasir Ris Secondary School in Singapore, were invited by the organisers to share their experiences in the field of ICT at the Conference with the participants.
   

3. PRESENTATIONS BY THE SPEAKERS

  Dr Nancy Law and Professor Stephen Heppell delivered highly engaging presentations. Not only did their presentations reflect their extensive experience and expertise in the use of ICT in education, they also were effective in inspiring the participants in the Conference on the subject.

Ms Yeo Hong Mui presented a comprehensive and detailed round- up of the presentations made by the experts, which served as an excellent reinforcement on key points made during the presentations.
   
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4. WORKING GROUPS

  The project ideas proposed by each participant were categorised under the following broad themes: Math and Science, Earth Sciences and Humanities, Language Arts, and Social Studies. Participants who had tabled the most interesting project ideas in these categories were then asked to form and chair Working Groups. The other participants were requested to choose the Working Groups they would like to work in. Each working group was asked to reach a consensus as to what project they would like to implement together.

Participants obtained a better understanding of the project proposals after the respective chairpersons shared their project ideas during the project presentations. Initially, six working groups were formed. However, one of the groups split to form two separate Working Groups, thus increasing the number to seven Working Groups.

To enhance effectiveness and productivity of the working groups, two experienced moderators were engaged to facilitate and encourage active discussions within the working groups.
   

5. PRESENTATIONS BY THE CHAIRPERSONS

  At the end of the three-day Conference, the Chairs of the seven Working Groups gave a presentation on the seven projects for further development, namely:
  - The Effects of Modernisation on Agriculture
  - Nuclear Energy
  - Cultural Fusion;
  - Water is Life
  - 1st Asia-Europe Classroom Meeting Point.
  - Halo-Halo to Mooncake
  - T.O.F.U (TransOceanic Forum United)
   
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6. PROJECT PROPOSALS

  The Effects of Modernisation on Agriculture:
This project involves the exchange of information among teachers and students via email and video conferencing on the impact of modernisation on the input, processes and output of agriculture. The project members will be publishing their project in the form of a book on the internet using Bookmaker.

Nuclear Energy
This is an interdisciplinary project posted on a website encompassing the disciplines of geography, English and Swedish languages, science and history. The students involved in the project will form three main discussion groups to discuss three questions related to nuclear energy. Skills such as argumentative writing and ethical issues will be discussed in the project.

Cultural Fusion
This is an idea that proposes an open forum or bulletin board to build research skills and raise cultural awareness among students. Possible topics like architecture, food, computers and nature will be discussed to foster curiosity, creativity and initiative. The participants will post the collected information and materials on school and AEC web pages for the forum discussion.

Water is Life
This project studies the quality of water in various regions of the world, making a comparative study, using database technology, knowledge forum, and ICT multimedia tools. A website has previously been set up on this project to expedite on the exchange of information.

1st Asia-Europe Classroom Meeting Point

This project group has already developed a website that serves as a communication platform to initiate and facilitate projects in the fields of history, geography, arts and sciences, etc. On the website, students and teachers from various countries will be able to select from a list of project proposals or offer their own.

Halo-Halo to Mooncake
Project members will stimulate their students to respond to the different national festivals and associated folklore by getting students to post their comments on the traditions and practises of the festivals on a designated website. Both teachers and students will also be posting video clips and pictures featuring the celebrations on the website.

T.O.F.U (TransOceanic Forum United)

This project involves the exchange of e-mails among pupils which will be monitored by the teachers. Project members will explore the possibilities of establishing an open forum with bulletin board system (BBS) or communication via teleconferencing for the students. Enhancement of the proficiency in English will be monitored through all stages of the project.
   
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7. CONCLUSION & FOLLOW-UP

  The 1st International Teacher's Conference in Singapore was a very significant follow-up event to the pilot project held in Copenhagen in May 1998. Both events stressed the enormous importance the enormous potential of the Internet as a powerful, efficient and economical tool to promote exchanges among teachers and pupils of high schools in Asia and Europe. The Singapore Conference also provided an opportunity for high school teachers in ASEM countries to concretise their ideas about on-line education projects and integrate such projects into their curricula.

Of equal importance were the cross-cultural exchanges during the Singapore Conference. The participants came to Singapore from many difference cultural backgrounds and with even more different experience in the filed of education. They demonstrated considerable enthusiasm and motivation to put aside their cultural difference to develop a common project idea and to strengthen collaboration between their countries. It has become clear that a first step to successful cross-cultural projects is to offer teachers a chance to experience first-hand the chances and challenges of cross-cultural exchanges before their students do.

ASEF plans to further develop its AEC website to stimulate discussions and cooperation among high school teachers and students in Asia and Europe and to support the various ICT projects. Our vision is to promote inter-cultural learning and to create a common cyber-classroom for high schools in Asia and Europe.

The considerable media interest in the Singapore Conference also indicated the importance of this event.

Media organisations in Singapore including Channel NewsAsia, Berita Harian, Today and SAFRA Radio provided significant coverage. The Conference also aroused the interest of a Copenhagen-based production company, JJ Film. A production crew made a trip especially to Singapore to interview some of the AEC participants a month after the Conference to produce a 30-minute documentary on ASEM process. JJ Film plans to release the documentary by 1 April 2002 to coincide with ASEM IV in Copenhagen.

Many of the participants expressed the wish for this initiative to be continued. ASEF is therefore exploring the possibility of holding the 2nd International Teachers' Conference in September 2002 in Europe. The second Conference would enable the prize-winning project teams to present their projects and share their experiences thus allowing more high school teachers in Asia and Europe to come together to generate new ideas for cross-cultural collaboration with the support of the AEC initiative.
   
   
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