iEARN - A Pioneer and Leader in the Field of Educational Telecommunications
In 1988 the Copen Family Foundation, under the leadership of Peter Copen, linked 12 schools in Moscow with 12 schools in New York State in the New York/Moscow Schools Telecommunications Project in a pioneering demonstration that education could be enhanced and the quality of life on the planet improved if young people were to have the opportunity to use telecommunications technologies to engage in collaborative projects. Working with the New York State Education Department and the Soviet Academy of Sciences, students worked in both English and Russian on curriculum-based projects designed by participating teachers.
An independent evaluation of this demonstration project (download pdf of full report) noted:
- students discussed political/social issues and international events more frequently than a control group
- students read more at home, more news magazines and books by authors from other countries
- the project impacted students' awareness and understanding of international issues and current events
- enrollments in second language courses increased as students wrote for an authentic audience
Based on teacher reactions (one told evaluators that it "was the most dynamic and rewarding educational experience I have had in my 22 years of teaching"), iEARN expanded to nine countries in 1990. In each country a "Center" was created to provide training and support for teachers who were at the cutting edge of educational change.
A meeting of teachers was held in Argentina in 1994 and based on the successful project work completed between 1990 and 1994, iEARN international was created and the iEARN constitution was developed. This opened the iEARN network to schools worldwide and schools in over 120 countries are involved in iEARN projects.
Most of these countries have their own iEARN Coordinator and teacher support structure to help educators integrate this technology into their classroom teaching and learning. In some countries the iEARN program is within the Ministry of Education. In other countries it is a separate non-profit organization with close ties to education and youth-service institutions. iEARN involves approximately 2,000,000 students daily in collaborative project work. It is growing exponentially as more classes become connected! These students and teachers speak a total of 33 languages. During the last decade, iEARN teachers have received worldwide recognition and many awards.
After iEARN teachers came together physically in Argentina in 1994 to hold the first iEARN International Conference--this has become an annual event (Australia-1995; Hungary-1996; Spain-1997; USA-1998; Puerto Rico-1999; Beijing, China-2000; Cape Town, South Africa-2001; Moscow, Russia -2002; Japan-2003; Slovakia-2004; Dakar, Senegal-2005; Netherlands-2006, Egypt 2007, Uzbekistan 2008, Morocco 2009, Canada 2010, Taiwan 2011, Virtual 2012, Qatar 2013, Argentina 2014, Brazil 2015) Educators from 70+ countries gather each year. This conference, which is open to all educators, is a chance to share and learn from teachers how technology is being used in their/your classroom (and to meet other teachers with whom you have been working on-line!). During the year, many other gatherings are held on the national and regional levels throughout the world.
Since 1998, iEARN has held an International Youth Summit in conjunction with the International Conference. Students from over 20 countries come together to build bonds of friendship and plan future collaborative project work.
Each country determines the management structure of iEARN in that country. In some countries it is a coordinator, in others a management team. There are three levels of coordination in iEARN: Centre, Country Representative and Country contact.
Each country with an iEARN Center is represented on the iEARN International Assembly, which determines policy and determines organization matters for iEARN internationally. Also represented on the iEARN Assembly are the Copen Family Foundation (CFF) and the Youth Representative.
iEARN International is registered Association NO. 586513, de Callus Barcelona, Spain and has an office in Spain.
The iEARN Assembly elects an Executive Council to carry out its policies. The Executive Council consists of three persons from three different iEARN Centres, with due regard being specially paid to global solidarity and equity. The Members of the Executive Council are elected for a term of two years with one or two members elected each year. No one can be elected to the Executive Council for more than two consecutive terms.