In mid-October, I was one of 40 world-wide participants in a new program called Intel Education Visionaries, a group that serves as exemplars for global education transformation; inspires and shares best practices with other educators, administrators and parents worldwide; and helps Intel design the future of education technology.

This kickoff event brought all of us to the Bay Area to meet face-to-face, collaborate with other educators and leaders, participate in immersive professional learning sessions and hear from industry experts.

Stopping for photos of the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to Skywalker Ranch.

This was the inaugural event and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the program that Intel had developed for our four days together. It was a great mixture of meeting and mingling, presentations, interactive workshops and independent time.

I appreciated the presentations by John Galvin, Intel Education GM and VP, and Eileen Lento, Intel Education Director of Marketing and Advocacy. Both stressed the need to shift the learning paradigm to a student-centered environment where there are technology-rich experiences that help transform education.

One highlight was the afternoon we spent at GSVlabs meeting with the eight Intel Education Accelerator startups: Beeline Reader, GotIt!, Griti, PocketLab, ToneTree, Vidcode, WriteReader and WordsU. This program’s goal is to help passionate and committed education, technology and business professionals advance educational excellence and innovation with mentorship, funding and insights. We spent time with each company in small groups learning more about their products and having conversations about their impact in education.

Emma Scripps, me, Molly McMahon, fellow visionary Donna Teuber, Michael Schurr

Another highlight was the visit to the George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) and Skywalker Ranch. We had a great welcome from Milton Chen, the senior fellow of GLEF, and he discussed the six edges of innovation: thinking, curriculum & assessment, technology, time/place, co-teaching/co-learning and youth. I loved his focus on authentic learning, which means school life is real life.

After the presentation, I was excited for the design thinking workshop that folks from IDEO and The Teachers Guild were facilitating. We went through the current collaboration on The Teachers Guild that asks, How might we spark student curiosity? For those not familiar with design thinking, it was a good introduction to the processes of discover, ideate, evolve and select. I participated in the first Teachers Guild collaboration on establishing a culture on innovation in our classrooms and it was great meeting these facilitators face-to-face.

We also had fun excursions to the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. However, the absolute best part of our time together was getting to know each other and making global connections. There were representatives from the US, Asia and SE Asia, Europe, South America, Central America, Australia, South Africa and the Caribbean (I think that’s everyone!).We had a couple of days of meet and mingle time where we each did brief presentations about our work and how we are contributing to today’s education transformation.

It is inspirational to see that we are all working toward a common goal of impacting student learning and our respective educational environments. I look forward to future connections with this group of educators.