Cross-posted on the K12Online Conference blog

I could not be more honored to be the pre-conference keynote speaker for this year’s K12 Online conference!

I have been participating in this annual conference since its inception in 2006 and every year I am amazed at the quality of presentations shared by educators around the world. The opportunity to learn together over the course of the conference (and beyond) is one of the most inspiring and engaging experiences of the year for me. Of course, this year’s lineup is no different!

When I was asked to keynote this year’s event, I knew right away that I wanted my presentation to have a global focus. Thinking back over the course of my ten years of living overseas, I realized that in many ways my exposure to new ways of thinking about technology has been paralleled by some similar learning experiences in the real world. I wanted to explore those links between virtual and real-world perspective shifts, and in the process try to share what I feel is an interesting and unique perspective in the expat mindset.

I’ve also decided to try to practice what I preach and make this presentation a true global collaboration, and although I will be putting together and presenting the final product, I really wanted to make it based on group input. Thankfully, my personal learning network includes a number of outstanding international school educators who’ve been willing to help me in preparing my presentation (thank you!). Right now I’ve gotten a lot of great input and material from (in no particular order):

While these teachers have already sent me fantastic material, I would love to include other perspectives as well. Knowing that the deadline is just over a month away, I’m beginning to put the final pieces together, and would love to hear your thoughts, include your perspectives, and emphasize the power of global collaboration in the final product.

Here’s the presentation overview:

Going Global: Culture Shock, Convergence, and the Future of Education

Everything I need to know about the future of education I learned, not from kindergarten, but from living overseas. Looking at daily life in foreign lands reveals a colorful spectrum of inspiring metaphors for the shifts we need to make in education. Featuring voices from students and teachers from around the globe, this presentation will start with a look through an expatriate’s eyes at some vibrant details of daily life in many lands. Often what we may find initially chaotic, disorienting and strange in other countries can actually spark new ways of thinking about teaching and learning.

Then, again through the voices and viewpoints of teachers and students from all around the world, we’ll examine the unique aptitudes which allow successful expats to thrive in any environment: adaptability, flexibility, the ability to understand differing viewpoints and constructs, and the communications skills to collaborate across cultural, religious and linguistic barriers. These are exactly the skills that future students and teachers will need to confidently enter the digital, global, converging, collaborative world of tomorrow – wherever they might be physically located.

What do you think? Does this sound interesting to you? Are you an expat or Third Culture Kid? Have you or your students participated in a global collaboration? What did you gain from that experience?

19 thoughts on “Going Global: Culture Shock, Convergence, and the Future of Education

  1. Hi Kim,

    David Warlick’s Keynote for the K12 Online in ’06 was a huge influence in my thinking and so has your blog since then too.

    Being new to China and the expat life, I have written a few posts recently about some lessons that come from the experience. I’ll share two of them here:

    Destinations and Dispositions
    My disposition is something that I can choose. My choice will make this journey everything I hope it can be, and more!

    Bubble Wrap
    We will all have different comfort zones, but if we don’t start popping some bubble wrap, we are not really protecting our kids like we think we are.

    I’m really looking forward to your keynote!

  2. Hi Kim,
    I’m Australian born but I spent many years in Indonesia as a child as my father worked for a joint venture company in Jakarta. I feel so influenced by Indonesian cultures. I use my right hand out of habit and other body language signals that are Indonesian and quite foreign for Australians. I attended boarding school in Australia but always got to go ‘home’ to Jakarta every couple of months. By this time I felt that I had 2 homes.

    I later married a Batak from North Sumatra after first being adopted by a Batak clan so that I could have a full traditional wedding and continue the family line which is so important considering I married that eldest son!

    You might ask – do I feel more Australian or Batak? Of course I still call Australia home but sometimes I feel on the ‘outside’ of my first culture. I believe I learn the most about who I am whenever I return to Australia. I always experience culture shock when I go back to Aus. It’s like I’m watching what’s happening – when actually I’m experiencing it first-hand.

    It is by re-connecting with my first culture, that I am able to see it from an ‘outside’ perspective.

    How has this impacted on my teaching? I feel that I am able to view things with a broader perspective. Being fluent in Indonesian of course has given me so many skills beyond the obvious ones. I sometimes feel like I don’t fit in with either culture but I’ve learned to deal with that as my children are mixed and need to identify with both. I am in the middle – neither here nor there.

    I think that the www has redefined how we identify with culture. To be able to connect on a daily basis with others from all over the globe compared to the past – of just reading the print in a text book has profoundly impacted on the how we learn. My presentation for the K-12 Online Conference will be on ‘Living History – Authentic Learning Empowered by Digital Technology’, will focus on this very topic.

    I look forward to your keynote Kim.

    Horas (greetings in Bataknese)
    Jane Ross
    ADE – Digital Technologies Specialist
    Sinarmas World Academy

  3. I have a correspondent in Hong Kong who complains that the structure in Chinese schools is so strict, that he is not able to implement any individualization of education or any recognition of the childhood of children. He sees the “fun” on my websites and tells me it cannot be part of Chinese education.

    From Ghana, I have two correspondents, one a student. Both have to use Internet Cafes in the city in order to get online. I have just sent a laptop to one, and hope that when he receives it, I will be able to see pictures of the children in his village. I have already sent print copies of some of my personalized stores (My Own Books), and the children were delighted with them. I hope to do the same with the other village sometime before the holidays.

    Even the worst of the schools in our country are better than what some children have in reach.

  4. Hey Kim-
    If you haven’t seen it already, there is a great post on Wes Freyer’s blog about how living abroad inspires creativity. Looks like something that would be relevant to your presentation.

  5. Oooh, you give away too much! :-)

    This is going to be a great keynote, Kim and I’m not saying that because you mentioned me. You’ve got a great perspective and it’s going to speak to a lot of people.

    Like everyone…looking forward to it.

  6. Hi Kim,

    Great topic for a keynote and I am certain that you will do a great job.

    I am not sure if you reflected on the input of the local Chinese school that I invited along to the FCW at HKIS. You may have found that they were a bit more reserved and hesitant about the use of some of the digital tools for learning than the kids from the international schools.

    I have to confess to being a bit disappointed that noone tackled the elephant in the room as far as the digital divide was concerned (the divide between local and international schools in the Asian region). Maybe a group did but did not get to go through. Teachers certainly did discuss it as you might have seen on David Woo’s blog:

    I think that this is an issue that needs serious addressing and would make a great keynote and challenge focus for all of us. Here in first-world Hong Kong parents with the means send their kids to international schools where they effectively sacrifice the endless rote learning of the Chinese Script for a more western form of life and become “bananas” (Yellow on the outside, white on the inside).

    I have spent 3 years dealing with the local Education Department in Hong Kong trying to get them to come along to things like the recent Hong Kong conference to no avail. This is a very, very tough nut to crack and if we international school teachers think that we are interacting with the global culture at the grass roots by working with the sons and daughters of the top 1 or 2 percent of the population that can afford the international school fees then we are very much mistaken.

    How’s that for a challenge for the future :)

    Best wishes.


  7. @David,

    Thank you so much! And thanks for reminding me of your blog posts, they’re exactly the type of thing I’m hoping to discuss within the keynote. If you’re at all interested in sending me any audio or video along those lines, I would love to include your voice in the presentation.


    Thank you! A perfect post to compliment the topic of the keynote! Thanks for sharing it here.


    Thank you so much for sharing your personal story Jane! This is exactly the type of experience I want to focus on in the presentation. If you’re at all interested in sending me any audio or video along those lines, I would love to include your voice in the presentation. If not, I hope it’s OK to use some of your comments here as text within the presentation.


    Thank you!


    Just to clarify, this presentation is about expat culture and lifestyle in international schools – not local schools. However, I do feel strongly that the experience of living abroad, regardless of educational institution, is perhaps the most valuable life experience anyone, child or adult, can have. I wonder if you’ve lived outside of your home country at any point?


    Thanks for the link! Any chance you would want to participate in the presentation by sharing audio/video/images about living in China?


    Thank you! Your part of the presentation will surely be the highlight :)


    It was certainly interesting to see the difference between international and local schools at the FCW. Unfortunately I’m not going to be covering that specific dimension of schooling in HK in my presentation, but you should submit one for a K12Online since you have the personal and direct experience!

  8. Congratulations on being selected to deliver the keynote address. As a retired English teacher and now ESL teacher in the local community center, I meet immigrants from the Middle East, Mexico, Asia, and South America. It’s exciting to participate in a global quest for vital learning.

    1. @Paul C,

      Thank you! My favorite part about living overseas is getting to interact with so many different people from so many different cultures!

  9. Hi Kim,

    I am currently gathering writings and artwork of young TCKs for a TCK anthology project. The eligible age is under 27, so I think this would be a great chance for your students to tell their stories and interact with others. If you are interested, please give me an email( so I can give you further information.

    Cerine´s last blog post ..The Call for Submissions begins …

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