About 200,000 Taiwanese schoolchildren will share our Vendée Globe adventure, thanks to the close relationship we have built over the past two years with United Daily News, one of the world’s largest Chinese language media groups. Founded in 1951, UDN publishes several newspapers and a web site for adults, plus the UDN Student Weekly for high school students. In addition to developing reading skills with the Student Weekly, UDN’s Education Division also promotes Chinese language writing education through its national essay contest.
And, in 2014, the Education Division launched a social learning platform called educoco.com. During our Vendée Globe challenge, every issue of the UDN Student Weekly will carry an article based on topics from our Teachers Guide. In addition, classroom teachers will be able to link directly from educoco.com to our program site, Ocean Challenge Live! and use our content to stimulate learning. It was at the World Association of Newspapers conference in Bali in 2014 – where the UDN Student Weekly won the World Young Reader Prize – that we met kindred spirit Steven Chen. Head of UDN’s Education Division, Steven believes just as strongly as we do in the value of using real world experience to get students engaged.
Steven and UDN are exploring how to best educate the next generation of children and build competencies for the 21st century, such as critical thinking, problem solving, effective communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation. The educoco.com platform is designed to foster those skills. More than 5,000 teachers – mainly based in Taiwan, though the platform is also available in English and simplified Chinese for mainland China – are registered on the platform. They use educoco.com to cultivate student collaboration, assigning “missions” based on specific topics, often linked to content from the UDN Student Weekly. The students can read online about the topic, search for additional material, discuss with team members via the platform and finally present their findings to other teams, in their own class or at other schools further away.
UDN is always on the lookout for topics that will spark student interest. Our Vendée Globe challenge immediately caught Steven’s attention. He admires the concept of sharing educational information to connect with students and believes the Vendée Globe will be a great motivator to the classes enrolled in educoco.com.
Steven hopes to boost the number of teachers using Ocean Challenge Live! and is thus reaching out to Taiwanese yacht clubs, talking at conferences for professional sailors and partnering with Taiwan’s Ministry of Education and the National Ocean Education Center. The Ministry of Education has invited UDN to introduce Ocean Challenge Live! during a training program for ocean education teachers. UDN is working with the National Ocean Education Center to design a more detailed curriculum for teachers that is based on the Ocean Challenge Live! Teacher’s Guide. Plans are being made for a weekly ten-minute segment during the National Education Radio broadcast, which will feature that week’s teaching topic, update listeners on the race, and include audio reports from Great American IV.
Recreational boating is just catching on in Taiwan, where it was quashed until recently by restrictive laws that banned citizens from the coastline and only offered two vessel registration categories: fishing boat and cargo ship. Now, thanks to the more recent easing of tensions with China, that has changed; marinas are springing up and local sailors are competing in regattas around the country. Although the Taiwanese are generally not familiar with the Vendée Globe, Steven believes its excitement will be contagious. He has even recruited a local skipper to give commentary on the adventure as it unfolds. UDN will be holding a teacher training session in October and hopes to find teachers passionate about sailing to strengthen the effort. Steven’s dream is to connect Taiwanese classes with classes in the US to create an online community following our Vendée Globe trip.
Contributed by Louise Bullis-Yarmoff
Final Vendée Globe Press Conference
The September 14, 2016 press conference in Paris gave us the opportunity to promote our global education program in front of a crowd of French and international reporters, as well as through interviews with two of the most widely listened to French radio stations, RTL and Franceinfo. The press conference was broadcast live on a variety of channels – the full video is available here. The introduction of the Skippers is from mins 5-7:30, and my answer to a question is at min 50:00.
We also used this event to connect with other skippers in the Race, the organizers for Vendée Globe, as well as some of our French Ministry connections. We are pleased that several skippers, including Tanguy de Lamotte, Eric Bellion, Alan Roura, Kito de Pavant and Kojiro Shiraishi have agreed to participate in our Ocean Challenge Live! program, by answering questions along the way. Click here to view our full photo album on Facebook.
Bonne Chance: Marblehead Send-off Event
On September 16th, we were pleased to welcome members of the hometown Marblehead community in a show of support for our upcoming Vendée Globe race. Held at the historic Old Town House, we connected with friends and longtime supporters of our sitesALIVE! mission. We had the opportunity to present our educational goals to the those who had gathered. Remarks were made Jean-Jacques Yarmoff, Attaché for Science and Technology, Consulate General of France in Boston. Members of the Team of Experts, including Dr. Brien Barnewolt and Captain Yann Cariou, (pictured) were also able to attend.
We were honored to be presented with a certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Congressman Seth Moulton and received letters of support from the Town of Marblehead Board of Selectmen and Senator Thomas McGee. His words will stay with us as we return to France: “The proud maritime town of Marblehead, the sitesALIVE! team, and the more than 250,000 children signed up to the program’s website, will follow your progress keenly. Thank you for providing children around the world with an inspirational adventure and for representing Marblehead, Massachusetts as the only American in the race!”