“E2! E2! E2!”
The energy was palpable in the room, an unbelievable buzz in the air as the National Gallery of Hungary was filled with educators from around the world, gathered on the staircase and chanting the name of the event that has shifted their worldview in significant ways during the past three days. As the 240 MIE Experts and Fellows gathered on the staircase for a final snapshot at the Awards Gala, the energy struck everyone in the room. What a beautiful mosaic of the best educators from around the globe, uniquely different in their perspectives but voices uniting to chant one word, a common goal of empowering education the unifying thread between countries from Korea to Kenya, Germany to Ecuador.
From March 8-10th, 240 educators gathered in Budapest, Hungary for Microsoft’s Annual E 2 Educator Exchange event, a celebration of innovation and passion, a gathering of great minds and amazing ideas. Over the course of three days, teachers learned from each other through a variety of ways, cross-pollinating the ideas they arrived with and going home more inspired, energized, and empowered to take on the learning challenges in their respective challenges.
Let’s take a moment to look back at an incredible 72 hours spent at the E 2 Educator Exchange event.
Words to Inspire Educators, Words to Inspire a Generation
Day 1 started with a clap and a bang, as local Hungarian dance troupe Varidance took the stage; their quick steps and vibrant energy captivated the audience and got them set for a full day ahead. Don Grantham, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Central and Eastern Europe, kicked off the day with a warm welcome to the crowd, stressing the critical importance of educators in today’s day and age. Tamas Deutsch, a member of the European Parliament, provided a local perspective to the event. Following that, a Minecraft panel electrified the audience.
Moderated by Jacqueline Russell from the Minecraft Product Team, MIE Experts Brian Aspinall from Canada, James Protheroe from the UK, and Andre Spang from Germany shared their unique stories on how they came to use Minecraft in the classroom and the transformational effects it has had on their teaching. Each teaching different subjects and coming from distinct cultures with vastly different curriculums and educational systems, many teachers buzzed afterwards about how fascinating it was that they were able to talk about the same tool with the same enthusiasm for how it has positively affected their classroom.
“What we’re here to do is help every student on the planet achieve more.”
With those words, Microsoft in Education WW Vice President Anthony Salcito kicked off our Day 2 keynote, widely regarded by many as the highlight of the entire event. From Skyping an Arctic Explorer (live, braving all connectivity issues to bringing up three educators from around the world for live demos of their Class Hacks, the message was clear- technology empowers learning in unprecedented ways, and teachers are making this innovation happen every day in their classrooms. We saw live demos showcasing the power of the Surface tablet, heard from Mike Tholfsen of the OneNote team on new updates to the Class Notebook that make it easier than ever for teachers to use the tool. Over 9000 viewers joined us live online, making this a truly open event for the first time ever. Stephen Reid, a widely popular speaker on Minecraft and edtech, reinforced this message with his impassioned message about the power of game-based learning.
In case you missed it, catch the on-demand stream of the Day 2 Keynote through this site.
Group Challenges – Ready, Set, Hack!
In keeping with the Hack the Classroom theme, educators were asked to create a hack following one of five assigned personas – Gamify, Personalize, Minimize, Simplify, and Strategize. As the teachers met each other for the first time, there was anticipation, excitement, and a good dose of chaos as people who had before that moment been complete strangers were suddenly thrown together to solve a complex problem while figuring out cultural and language barriers.
The teachers hacked away at their challenges for two days, during which lifelong friendships were forged, sparks of genius lit up the night, and cultural barriers were gradually broken down. The grand prize ended up being awarded to the trio of Stefan Malter (Germany), Ha Nguyen Thi Hai (Vietnam), and DeAnne Hainlen (USA), with a winning solution around integrating international students into a multicultural classroom using the built-in translation tool for OneNote. It’s a solution uniquely appropriate for the world we live in today, and quite fitting for a team spanning three continents! They were honored during an Awards Gala at the Hungarian National Gallery.
Breakout Sessions, Breakthrough Ideas
MIE Fellows played an integral part in the event, tirelessly sharing their ideas with the MIE Experts and providing invaluable mentorship to their groups during the Educator Challenge. They also presented on their area of expertise during Breakout Sessions on both days; from gamification in the classroom, delivered with infectious enthusiasm by Brazilian Fellow Francisco Tupy, to using OneNote in the Classroom from Irish Fellow Lara Dabbagh, the peer-to-peer learning reached new heights this year.
The Learning Marketplace also became a hotspot of activity that truly personified the name of the event—a true educator exchange, educators showcased their learning projects and were awed as they walked around, learning about the work of their peers while gaining a lens to their unique corner in the world through those projects. Many of these ideas were captured in a compilation of articles by MIE Experts in a self-published book by Mr. Tupy, released shortly after the E 2 event.
A single idea has the ability to change the lives of many, but it’s when that idea meets other minds and is watered with perspectives from different experiences that it blossoms into something greater. This is what E 2 brings to the table, what educators bring to their students, and what empowered, innovative education brings to the world.
To close, let’s hear directly from the educators who attended the event.
“It was amazing – and I went back home with my head full of new ideas and some new friends in my heart. Talking to people from all over the world – who all want to achieve more – was an absolute pleasure. It even helped me realize that it’s worth the effort to use ICT tools in a creative way, even more than I already did before.”
– Stefan Malter, Germany
“My favorite memory are all the people I got to meet. I also enjoyed all the keynotes and learning at STEM Maker fair. STEM ideas I will definitely use at the school and hoping to get some Micro:bits when they come to open markets.”
– Paula Vorne, Finland
“Being on E2 with all these awesome educators from all over the world is unforgettable experience! I loved working with my team on a project and very grateful for an opportunity to meet this people. The atmosphere during the event was absolutely amazing. I hope to see all the new friends I’ve met in Moscow next year on a Conference in my school #1517.”
– Maria Zyuzyukova, Russia
“The 3-day Microsoft Global Educator Exchange was really a life-changing event. Meeting my amazing MIE Expert friends, collaborating with them for the group challenge and learning from the different breakout sessions were something to be treasured for the rest of my life. But presenting my Learning Activity in front of Anthony Salcito, to the other Microsoft leaders and to the other educators was something to be proud of. Thank you Microsoft for this kind of opportunity. Looking forward for more collaboration with the MIEEs and to learn more from them! Hope to see you all again!”
– Erliza Matacot, Philippines
“It was a great learning experience. Meeting with MIE Experts from across the globe was a dream come true. The excitement of the MIE Experts during the award distribution ceremony was one of the great memories. Thank you Microsoft for providing us this amazing opportunity.”
– Raja Waqas, Bangladesh