Public diplomacy has long pursued the transformative potential of new technologies. Likewise, educational leaders have long realized the importance of travel and exchange. Virtual exchange is the merging of these two efforts.
Twenty-five years ago, the International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) was among the first organizations to pioneer educational virtual exchanges. In 1988, iEARN used cutting-edge technology to link educators and students with their peers both within and across societies. Other initiatives have followed suit, rapidly evolving to harness the explosion of new media technologies.
When leaders in the emerging field (Global Nomads Group, iEARN-USA, and Soliya, among others) formed the Exchange 2.0 Coalition, they recognized virtual exchange as a distinctive field, critical to any 21st Century education. This movement is gaining momentum.
The Exchange 2.0 Coalition is Formed
Three virtual exchange organizations — Global Nomads Group, iEARN-USA, and Soliya — joined together in the Exchange 2.0 Coalition in order to collaboratively advance virtual exchange and reach more young people.
United States Institute of Peace Publishes Special Report "Exchange 2.0"
The United States Institute of Peace published a Special Report entitled Exchange 2.0. This report was circulated to every member of the U.S. Congress.
League of Arab States Endorses Virtual Exchange
The Education and Scientific Research Office of the League of Arab States endorsed virtual exchange programming in a communiqué to all Arab Ministers of Education.
U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Includes Virtual Exchange in Report
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s report included language promoting the use of virtual exchange.
Aspen Institute Holds Workshop Between Virtual Exchange Providers and Community Colleges for International Development
The Aspen Institute’s ”Partners for a New Beginning” hosted a workshop between virtual exchange providers and Community Colleges for International Development (CCID) to discuss bringing virtual exchange to students at community colleges across the United States.
United States Institute of Peace Holds Day-Long Virtual Exchange Conference
The United States Institute of Peace hosted researchers, practitioners, and policymakers– including speaker Her Majesty Queen Noor Al Hussein of Jordan– for a full-day conference dedicated to expanding virtual exchange.
Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau Establishes Virtual Exchange Unit
The Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the U.S. State Department (the world’s largest funder of exchanges) established a Virtual Exchange Unit.
European Union Foreign Policy Experts Prepare Virtual Exchange Briefing
The European Union’s Executive External Action Service (the EU foreign policy bureau) organized briefings by virtual exchange program implementers, funders, and researchers with senior EU policy-advisors and funding bureaus.
Secretary of State John Kerry Announces Virtual Exchange Initiative
At the Foreign Service Institute Overseas Security Seminar, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the Obama Administration’s plan to develop – in close cooperation with the family of deceased U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens – a major new public-private virtual exchange initiative intended to enable a substantially larger number and greater diversity of young people to have a meaningful cross-cultural experience as part of their education.
Morocco Commits $5 Million to Support Virtual Exchange
According to a White House press release, “The President and His Majesty the King are committed to exploring further cooperation to promote mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue… The President commended His Majesty the King for graciously committing to donate $1 million per year over the next 5 years to the J. Christopher Stevens Virtual Exchange Initiative.”
European Parliament’s Culture and Education Committee Issues Opinion on Virtual Exchange
The Committee on Culture and Education highlights new media technologies as instruments for promoting intercultural and inter-religious dialogue and urges the Foreign Affairs Committee to make virtual exchange a priority.