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IGGY’s Junior Commissioners visit the USA

The IGGY Junior Commission is a yearlong 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.

In July 2013 the Junior Commissioners flew to the UK for an intense week of skill-building and research at the UK’s University of Warwick. They created polls and podcasts as part of research into internet provision in schools; developed skills in animation, interviewing, leadership, marketing and design; travelled to London for a visit to the House of Lords with Junior Commission Advisor Lord Jim Knight, and presented at IGGY’s international conference on education and the internet: Global & Gifted 13.

On Sunday 27 October 2013 the ten Junior Commissioners left for the USA in order to undertake a further and final study visit. Their five-day visit will include stays in Washington DC and New York and will include a visit to the Google’s New York Offices. Their mission is 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 will interview 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) comprises 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 will be shown two of the center’s existing digital initiatives and prototypes for future plans.

· ARTLAB+ where the commissioners will attend 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 will travel to New York in order to undertake two final visits to inform their research. They will take a trip to the ischool where the commissioners will meet 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 will provide 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 will also visit the New York offices of Google where they have been offered a guided tour. The Junior Commissioners are looking forward to peeking behind the scenes at Google, and witnessing first-hand how one of the internet pioneers of our generation operates.

Aateka Vaseer (aged 15, from Pakistan) is one of the Junior Commissioners about to embark on this trip of a lifetime. She says:

“I have always admired how technology has changed the way the world works, particularly when it comes to the education sector. I am really looking forward to further improving this change in every achievable way, and I’m also looking forward to working with my ten colleagues again in the USA. Furthermore I am very enthusiastic to work with significant people and organisations in the USA who have the same determination and spirit to improve the educational sector, as we Junior Commissioners have."

Adrian Hall, IGGY’s Managing Director, says:

“The chance for Junior Commissioners to visit the USA and meet professionals in education and technology is an amazing opportunity. At IGGY, we are excited to create and develop partnerships with all organisations involved in the trip and I wish the Junior Commissioners luck with their research. I’m sure they will have a great time!”

Following this study visit to the USA, the Junior Commissioners will continue to work online, pulling together their final report which will be published in Spring 2014.

- Ends -

For press and media enquiries, please contact Jan McQuillan or call the IGGY Office on +44 (0) 2476 151860.

About IGGY

IGGY is an international, social and educational network for gifted young people created by the UK’s University of Warwick. It gives members access to interactive educational resources and allows them to work with top academics, student mentors and other gifted young people around the world to exchange ideas, debate, learn and explore in a safe environment. The Independent has described IGGY as “the thinking teenager’s Facebook”.

IGGY focuses on providing stretching content in Maths, English, Science, History, Politics and Life Skills but also covers a wide range of other subjects. IGGY content covers a range of formats – from quick quizzes to longer video courses and podcast series. IGGY has been built around the concept of gamification and awards points, badges and occasionally prizes to reward learning and engagement. IGGY features a lively forum area, where members can start their own debates and contribute to other members’ topics

IGGY has a unique social approach. Every member can set up a profile page where they can let other members know about them and their interests. Members can ‘friend’ each other, send messages, and collaborate on projects.

IGGY is safe and secure due to its robust moderation tools. The site is continually monitored through a combination of advanced word filtering software and human moderation.

IGGY is not for profit. There is a subscription fee to join, but free memberships are offered to students from a disadvantaged background.

Find out more on IGGY

About the Junior Commission

The University of Warwick’s IGGY is organising a Junior Commission for the third year running. The Junior Commission 2013 sees ten IGGY members aged 13-18 work together on the subject of ‘Education and the Internet’ as they undertake study visits to the UK and USA, extensive research, and structured debates online and in person, resulting in the production of a report of their findings to key educators and policy holders.

The Junior Commission is a specially adapted version of the Warwick Commission tailored for the IGGY community. It allows a group of like-minded international young people to work through problems facing the world today assisted by an Advisory Panel consisting of experts in the fields of Technology and Education.

Junior Commissioners work together to define the scope, questions and output of their own research in which they will be asked to present their findings to others in an attempt to influence policy makers on suggestions for the future of technology and its role in Education. The commissioners are considering the opportunities and challenges of letting students have open access to the internet in school and how the internet could change education over the next ten years. Their findings will be made available for all to download from the IGGY website following completion of the project in Spring 2014.