The IGGY Junior Commission is a year-long research project carried out by ten IGGY Members on a special topical issue. The topic on this occasion is Education and the Internet, and this year’s Junior Commissioners were announced in April 2013 as a diverse group of bright young people spanning ages 14-17 and hailing from 8 different countries. The Junior Commission includes: Lindsey from Canada; Aateka and Danish from Pakistan; Gabriel and Sathyam from the UK; Beatrix from Singapore; Anne-Eléonore from France; Jurgen from the Netherlands; Rachael from Australia, and Kamogelo from South Africa.
On Sunday 27 October 2013 the ten Junior Commissioners departed for the USA in order to undertake a further and final study visit. Their five-day included stays in Washington DC and New York and included a visit to the Google’s New York Offices. Their mission was to carry out research into organisations who are either embracing the internet and technology as a learning tool, or who have a strong influence on the future of online learning and technology. The Junior Commissioners interviewed individuals at each of the organisations in order to establish how the field of e-learning is expected to develop over the coming years, and what might be the challenges along the way.
The Junior Commissioners’ three days in Washington DC (27-30 October) comprised of visits to:
• Jamestown Elementary School, where KS2 children with Special Educational needs are taught using iPads.
• Family Online Safety Institute, have created ‘A platform for good’, a project designed to help parents, teachers, and teens to connect, share, and use the internet for positive means.
• Thomas Jefferson High School, where students are taught advanced computer science using state of the art facilities including a ‘supercomputer’
• The American Council on Education, the largest and most visible association representing all sectors of higher education in the US
• The Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access, where they were shown two of the center’s existing digital initiatives and prototypes for future plans.
• ARTLAB+ where the commissioners attended an afterschool program during which students attend to learn about art education through the use of mobile and digital technologies
On Thursday 31 October the group travelled to New York in order to undertake two final visits to inform their research. They visited the ischool where the commissioners met with the School Principal, Isora Bailey. The school aims to ‘adapt to meet the needs of the changing society and the 21st century learner’ and provided the Junior Commissioners with an opportunity to witness the ways in which the ischool seeks to utilise all tools available to prepare their students for a future in which the internet is key.
They also visited the New York offices of Google where received a guided tour. Danish Faird is a year old IGGY Member and Junior Commissioner from Pakistan. Danish says:
The week was probably the best of my life. The most involved, exciting, enlightening, fun time I’ve had. I just want to say thanks to IGGY and the University of Warwick for the incredible opportunity of the Junior Commission. While our in-person research may be over, our overall research and online collaboration is just getting started!”
The Junior Commissioners will be continuing their research and creating a report containing recommendations to policy makers in education which they aim to be available in May 2014.