Penn State Hosts Virtual Global Learning in Agriculture Conference

Posted: January 30, 2016

On January 8th, 2016 over one hundred participants logged on to a virtual meeting room to learn more about globalizing agriculture education.

The Global Teach Ag! Initiative, a partnership between the Office of International Programs and the Center for Professional Personnel Development, hosted the second Global Learning in Agriculture Conference through the Adobe Connect platform.  Over 100 individuals from twenty-two states, three countries and more than fifty different organizations entered the online meeting room to hear from university and high school agriculture teachers, extension specialists, college students, directors of non-governmental organizations and non-profits.  Dr. Caitlyn Haugen, Education Program Specialist with the Peace Corps, presented the keynote speech titled "Curating Partnerships in Developing Global Competence: The task of 23st Century K - 20 Educators".

The mission of the Global Learning in Agriculture Conference is to “create space for innovation and collaboration in developing global learning opportunities throughout the K-20 education continuum.” This year’s theme was, “Learning Locally: Growing Globally” with a focus on creating innovative ways to teach global competencies to students without leaving the classroom as well as assisting teachers and educators in planning and preparing to take their students abroad.

"This was the first time we had tried to hold an event of this size using an online platform.  We wanted to try to expand the reach of the Global Learning in Agriculture Conference by having it online, but it did challenge us to be creative," said Melanie Miller Foster, one of the conference organizers. The Global Teach Ag! Initiative partnered with Penn State's Teaching and Learning with Technology division in order to find unique ways to engage participants in the online setting.

To ensure that this conference was perceived as more than just another webinar, conference participants received a “Conference-in-a-Box” in the week leading up to the conference.  The materials were intended to bring the conference experience to life with tactile items that conference goers have come to expect, right down to the snacks between breakout sessions. The Conference-in-a-Box included curriculum resources, Peace Corps educational materials, a custom Global Learning in Agriculture t-shirt and water bottle, and a slew of snacks from nearly every continent.

Social media, including Twitter and Facebook, provided conference participants with options for real-time conversations and networking opportunities during the conference.

The Global Teach Ag! Initiative plans to host the Global Learning in Agriculture online next year using what they have learned to make it even better and to continue to advance global competency in agriculture.

For more information visit the Global Learning in Agriculture website.