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What is a WISE Conference?

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SmartBlog on Education contributing editor Tom Whitby will be in Doha, Qatar, through Thursday for the 2012 World Innovation Summit for Education: Collaborating for Change. Don’t miss Whitby’s blogs and tweets about his conference experience. Watch for the hashtag #WISE2012.

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail invitation to attend an education conference with all expenses paid. This is done to get the conferences noticed in the education community. It is an expense and a necessary element of public relations. Depending on the quality of the conference, sometimes it pays off, but sometimes it exposes flaws of a conference to the world of connected educators. This is not an uncommon practice, and as a connected educator, I look upon it as an opportunity with each occurrence. I have been afforded a number of such opportunities since becoming an education blogger.

What really struck me about this invitation, however, is that it came from an organization called WISE and it took place in the organization’s home city of Doha, Qatar. I accepted the invitation, and flew to Qatar for the International Conference of the World Innovation Summit for Education, WISE 2012.

Of course, the icing on the cake was that my close friend, connected educator, and fellow education blogger Steve Anderson (@web20classroom) also accepted the invitation. We were even able to schedule our 13-hour flight with adjoining seats. Life is good.

Qatar Airlines was very impressive, but it was the organization of the logistics team of WISE that was really impressive. Our sole contact was a young woman named Nandita, who was a delight. Her team was able to invite and move and collect educators from all over the world, while jumping through every international hoop placed before them to complete their task. They were also able to accommodate the individual needs and desires of the educators as well. It was a daunting task, well accomplished.

Upon arrival we boarded school buses, which would rival most upscale buses in America. They were air conditioned with comfortable seats, seat belts and an information display at the front of the bus. The bus ride took us through a city that was lit up to show some of the most interesting architecture I have ever seen. Although we had eaten breakfast on the plane three hours earlier, it was now 8:30 p.m. and we were at a cocktail party with incredibly delicious finger foods.

At this mingling event we got to talk to educators from around the world. They were interested in what Steve and I had to say about what we did as connected educators who tweet, blog and present at education conferences. We were interested in how WISE provides money for innovative education programs and recognizes educators. This WISE 2012 conference will hopefully prove to be a most productive event. It again underscores the fact that in today’s world, everything global is local and everything local is global. I look forward to tweeting and blogging more on this as the week progresses. Watch for the hashtag #WISE2012!

Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) is an adjunct professor of education at St. Joseph’s College in New York. He came to that position after 34 years as a secondary English teacher in the public school system. He was recognized with an Edublog Award for the Most Influential Educational Twitter Series, #Edchat, which he co-founded. Whitby also created The Educator’s PLN and two LinkedIn groups, Technology-Using Professors and Twitter-Using Educators.