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DeforestACTION at ISTE

ISTE is one of the world’s premiere educational events. DeforestACTION will be featured in the closing keynote.

DeforestACTION will showcased to the education world after being annouced as the topic of the closing keynote at ISTE this year.

Chris Gauthier, a teacher from Queensland’s Cleveland State High School, will take the main stage with Dr. Willie Smits in San Diego, California, to explain the importance of global, project-based learning and DeforestACTION. 

Chris has recently returned from Borneo to witness first hand what the DeforestACTION project is about.  He is also an accomplished teacher, inspiring students in his school and beyond to get involved in projects like Earth Watchers and fundraising campaigns to save rainforest and more.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is the premier membership association for educators and education leaders engaged in advancing excellence in learning and teaching through innovative and effective uses of technology. ISTE is the trusted source in education technology for professional development, knowledge generation, advocacy, and leadership for innovation.

ISTE’s annual conference and exposition is one of the world’s largest education technology events, and the closing keynote is one of the most high profile slots on the program.

It is expected that the presentation may include some preview clips from the much anticipated upcoming cinematic feature about DeforestACTION “The Rise of the Eco Warriors”, which was recently filmed over 100 days in Borneo by Virgo Productions and partners.

We also expect the new Apps to be announced for Windows Phone, iPhone and Android, which have been managed by TakingITGlobal.

Stay tuned for more.

— ps — I have been offline for several months due to family issues. I’m back online now, so will keep you posted more regularly.

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One of the largest information technology companies on the planet joins forces with DeforestACTION to connect school students with the realities of deforestation in Borneo

Samsung Electronics, one of the largest IT companies in the world, is putting its might behind the DeforestACTION project to ensure local people can connect with millions of kids around the world.  The front line of the DeforestACTION project is creating awareness and respect for the forests and their inhabitants by providing global collaborative education opportunities. Samsung have stepped up to accelerate this in a big way.

The first phase in this partnership will see Samsung providing a swag of the latest Series 9 laptops and NPCs to all the eco warriors,  plus offering their latest Samsung Omnia phones to  keep them connected online.  They are providing equipment to ensure the entire team in the field can share regularly with the onlookers across the globe and report on everything that is happening as it occurs.

Also for the local people, the latest Samsung cameras will allow them to record their stories, and share them online with students around the world.  Access to laptops, cameras and the internet will help them connect with students in classrooms across the planet, providing real time and asynchronous reports on their experiences, knowledge and stories.  The devices will allow local people to connect with the world in a way that has previously been inaccessible to them.

Add to all this the partnership with Polycom, who are providing the very latest video conferencing technologies to allow school students to connect face to face with the field, and you have a whole new level of exciting learning opportunities you could never get from a text book.

Polycom to provide new conferencing tools to link people to the field

Creating real transparency around the issues of deforestation, creating exciting, authentic and connected learning experiences for young people in schools around the world, and giving local people the most powerful voice they have ever had, is a significant contribution from our two newest partners. 

And this is all just the tip of the iceberg. Expect another exciting announcement around this shortly!!

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Last week we took a camera to Fulford Secondary School in York, UK, to get reactions from students as they were introduced to the DeforestACTION project.

These students connected with Dr. Willie Smits via Skype, and began working together with other students around the world to learn about the issues of deforestion.

Later in the week, they were invited to meet the Crown Princess of Jogyakarta, and pledged to expand their involvement in the project to help fund further orangutan rescues and to fight the destruction of important forests for palm oil production.

This is such an engaging project, because it connects students with one of the most importat topics on the planet, and makes it as real as possible. A big thank you to all the students and teachers at Fulford Secondary School for sharing this with us.  Are you a teacher? You can connect your students with those at Fulford by signing up at http://www.deforestaction.org.

Are you are an expert in deforestation or orangutan conservation?  We are looking to provide as much information as possible to students from around the world and are always on the lookout for new, engaging content.

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'Innovate! Collective Wisdom from Innovative Schools' featuring Michael Fullan, Sir Ken Robinson, Dan Buckley, Will Richardson and loads more. All funds raised from the sale of this book will go directly to the DeforestACTION project.

It was a major hit at the BETT Show in London, with the first print run completely wiped out in only three days.  The new book “Innovate! Collective Wisdom from Innovative Schools” features the best examples of educational innovation from across the planet, and powerful ideas from the leading educational ‘gurus’.  It is a must read for anyone in education.

Perhaps best of all,  DeforestACTION is featured throughout as an exemplar of education best practice,  and all proceeds (yes, 100% of money raised) from sales of this book go directly to DeforestACTION.

This is good news for young people around the planet who are  continuing to fight deforestation and protect the endangered species including the orangutan.

The book was written in a very unique way.  Over 400 educational leaders collaborated across four days, sharing their best ideas, inspirations, quotes and case studies in an uber- OneNote document.  This process allowed the distillation of the most current, cutting edge educational thinking from the best in the world, quickly, powerfully and simply.  By leveraging the power of cloud technologies, and the single most powerful educational software tool – OneNote, this book is groundbreaking, not only in what it contains, but also in how it was created.

The book will soon be available through Amazon and other online booksellers.

DeforestACTION explained with examples of student work and great links to teaching and learning ideas.

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Her Royal Highness, Princess Gusti of Jogyakarta pledged to personally recruit 1 Million students from Indonesia to the DeforestACTION project

Why would her Highness, Princess Gusti Pembayun of Jogyakarta want to open one of the world’s most important education events, and challenge school leaders from across the globe to get behind the DeforestACTION project?  And why would she stand before this powerful leadership group and personally commit to enrolling another one million Indonesian students into the project?

Last week in London, the British Council hosted the annual Education World Forum.  This three day long event draws Ministers and senior policy makers from across the world to consider the future of education and was opened by Princess Gusi Pembayun, who spoke about the importance of large education systems embracing DeforestACTION.

During her address, the Princess highlighed the incredible work students from around the world had already undertaken through the project.  She spoke of the challenges faced by local people in Indonesia, and how education could help stop the destruction of the important rainforests, the orangutans, local industries, and protect the futures of the local people.

Her message was simple.  Deforestation is a global problem.  We must work together as a global community to solve it – beginning with our young people. New solutions are needed – more agile, more creative solutions.  She finished with a personal commitment – she will work to bring another one million Indonesian students into the program so they can interact with students around the world through the DeforestACTION online spaces, through new DeforestACTION fact sheets, teacher guides, and other resources that can be distributed to non-connected students.

So why what were the main reasons for such a commitment?   Here are some of the key drivers:

1. Access: Over 50% of students in Jogyakarta have access to the internet today, but in the near future, this will be 100%.  Connectivity will allow unprecedented opportunities for global collaboration.  DeforestACTION is one of the best ways for students and teachers to quickly connect, engage in collaborative projects, and to solve problems together.

2. Awareness of the problems of deforestation are the key to the solutions.  The more young people understand about the value of the forests, the importance of the wildlife, and the potential benefits of preserving both, the better. The new DeforestACTION resources make it easy and fun for students to increase awareness.

3. Empowering students to feel they can make a difference was a key theme in the presentations at the EWF.  Offering students a chance to take meaningful action to solve problems that are relevent to them is a global imperative.   DeforestACTION is a powerful channel for young people to explore issues, learn about the challenges, but best of all to propose solutions and take action.

4. Urgency – Time is running out.  Young people need to be educated about these issues quickly, before there are no more orangutans, before the peat is all destroyed, and before the future is bankrupted by corporate greed.  Education is the key.  There is no more time to waste.

The Princess and Dr. Willie Smits will spend another week travelling through Europe promoting DeforestACTION with packed houses and media conferences dominating their travels.   We wish them all the best.

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Princess Gusti Pembayun - Princess of Yogyakarta to open the Global Education Leaders Briefing annual event this January and present on DeforestACTION.

DeforestACTION will be the big news at the world’s largest educational leader meeting next week in London.

From January 8, some of the world’s most powerful education ministers, policy makers and thought leaders will meet in London for the Annual Education Leaders Briefing (ELB).  Hosted by the British Council to coincide with the BETT Show (the world’s largest education forum), this invitation only event provides a global platform for forward-looking debate with government, education systems and industry  to inspire and achieve real change in education.

Her Highness Princess Gusti Pembayun, of Yogyakarta, will be the opening keynote at this event, presenting on the importance of globally collaborative learning projects, and offering a global invitation for school systems around the world to join the DeforestACTION project.  There will also be several other very big announcements about the project next week – but more on that later.

There is strong commitment and support from the royal family of Yogyakarta, including Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwana X, to the DeforestACTION project, which will ensure large numbers of Indonesian students take the lead in the DeforestACTION project this year.

The Princess will be joined by Dr. Willie Smits and Hasudungan Pakpahan, and will use London as the starting point for a global DeforestACTION promotional tour.

I will be posting regular updates on Facebook, Twitter and this blog throughout the BETT week events, where DeforestACTION have a sponsored stand in the main pavillion.

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What if we could find a way to make the forests more valuable than chopping them down for timber and palm oil?

What if there was a  way that protecting the forests became the most financially beneficial option for local people – so much so that they would no longer be open to bribes and corruption from the palm oil companies?

What if protecting the forests could provide a new energy source that could significantly contribute to solving the global energy crisis, while radically improving the standard of living of the people whose forests are being destroyed and stolen?

It seems Dr. Willie Smits may have found a solution to this problem, which could literally change the deforestation game forever. (read a detailed, independent report from Ecofys here).

One of the reasons deforestation is so prolific in Indonesia, is because palm oil companies have faced very little resistance from local people in taking their land.  Much of this is because the palm oil companies cheat, lie, deceive and even steal land from the traditional landowners. But it’s also because in the short term, the pittance they are paid for their families’ land is too tempting for some people to turn down.

So, for a few thousand dollars, and a fist full of soon to be broken promises, the lands these local people have held for centuries are signed over to palm oil companies to destroy.

In the short term, such deals can allow the local people to buy fuel for their bikes (there is a massive shortage of fuel in Kalimantan), mobile phones or credit, or other simple luxuries. In the long term, it is the end of their communities, their livelihoods, and their futures.

If we as a planet are to reduce deforestation, we need to find an alternative for the local people. A way to ensure the value of keeping the forest in tact outweighs any short term financial tricks the palm oil companies can offer.

Sugar Palm is a very exciting option that may be our best chance ever.

To be clear –  Sugar Palm is the exact opposite of the highly destructive Oil Palm. These trees do not grow in a monoculture – they require the diverse forest to thrive.  Because they require the entire forest to be sustained, this sustains all kinds of life, keeping the natural balance of the forest in tact.  In palm oil plantations, on the other hand, only the palm oil trees grow.  The natural diversity is destroyed – the animals that aren’t butchered and killed are left to starve in a barren biological  desert.

Sugar palms releases large quantities of juice (up to 50 litres per day).  This juice can be efficiently converted into bio-ethanol, palm sugar (low GI), animal feed, electricity, medicines,  bio-plastics, and at least 50 additional products created to date using scientific methods developed by Dr.Willie Smits.

According to Willie, the amount of energy produced by a sugar palm beats that of all other crops (e.g. it provides over three times more energy than sugar cane).  In fact, as far as solar power goes, the sugar palm is a highly effective photovoltaic converter.

Local people have been collecting the sugar and using it for medicine, cooking, fire barriers, fiber (rope) construction for years.   So what’s new?

The first ever 'factory in a box village hub'

The first ever Village Hub - 'factory in a box' model by Dr. Willie Smits

In this photo, you can see two factories known as “Village Hubs”.   The larger one in the background is the original, the much smaller one in the front is a revolutionary new semi-portable factory.  Both factories include technology to  allow local people to convert their sugar palm into energy, giving them credits that can be used for electricity, clean drinking water, internet access, education service, animal feed, biofuel and more.  It is literally a currency exchange centre, allowing sugar to be converted into products and services on the spot.

Last week, Willie completed the first ever ‘factory in a box’ version of the Village Hub.  The concept is this factory can be transported to anywhere in the world in two large shipping containers.  It is then unpacked and assembled and within a few weeks, the entire village can enjoy a substantially elevated standard of living – but ONLY for as long as they have rich, bio diverse forests to sustain the sugar palms.

This is fantastic news for orangutans, gibbons, sun-bears and all the other animals that live in the forest. If this takes off quickly, and the demand from the local people drives the establishment of more of these hubs, it is one of the best chances we have to save the forests and the species that live in them.   I witnessed Willie present this to over 300 local people in Sintang earlier this year, and if their response was anything to go by, demand will be more than overwhelming.

As always, this is about education and free choice.  If this works as well on scale as the first production model (this is beyond prototype), and the local people choose this above the alternative (no comparison),  this is going to make a significant, positive difference to the planet forever.

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