Fabrice Vanegas of Cloud Lion

SchoolAdvice Partner

To Whom it Should Concern,

My name is Fabrice Vanegas, I write this letter, hoping to address a situation of disquieting urgency.  My intention is not to cause alarm with useless hyperbole, or to aimlessly spout pointless rhetoric. I write this to share thoughts that are close to me in the hope of causing you to reflect – and more importantly, take action.  So please sit down and pour yourself a cup of coffee – this should take you seven minutes to read…

Coming from a family of diplomats and hoteliers, I have been fortunate to travel extensively.  I grew up attending top-tier international schools in places like Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok.  My father is Colombian, my mother is French-Canadian, and I was born in Singapore (of course).  This paved the way for me to become what people nowadays call a “third culture child”.  In today’s increasingly globalised world, people like me are no longer a rare specimen.  

 

I was an inquisitive and rambunctious child, – eager to take in and understand the world around me.  For me, life was – and continues to be – about learning.  I hold a masters degree in educational administration, and have taught IB Business Management and Theory of Knowledge for the better part of a decade.

The very teachers and principals whom once educated and disciplined me as a student became colleagues and friends as a teacher.

I saw myself in my students, and strived to be the teacher I would have wanted when I was their age.  I grew to see my students as my own children, building strong bonds with them and their families.  Many of them remain in contact with me to this day, their words of kindness and recognition have made my journey as an educator gratifying beyond measure.

I take comfort in knowing I did my best to make a positive difference in the lives of my students, but I wanted to do more.  Reflecting on this with my wife (also a teacher, like her mother, and her mother’s mother…) – we decided to create iTeach Thailand in 2011.  This non-profit organization, which exists to this day, was born as a network of international school teachers who could interact professionally and socially to share resources and ideas. The way I saw it, by helping hundreds of teachers we would help tens of thousands of students.  It quickly grew into a 400-strong community, allowing it to evolve into a serious professional-development powerhouse in the region.  

Our topics ranged from inclusion of students on the autism spectrum, to classroom management and of course – educational technology, which became our forte.

Always being somewhat of a geek, I started using what was then called “Google Apps” in 2008.  The more I used this technology, the more I liked it. I started amassing certifications and attending Google-organized events, this led me to become a passionate Google for Education trainer.  I loved it.  In every training I delivered there was always that eureka moment, where teachers oo-ed and ahh-d, marveling at what can be done with this technology.

Founder of Cloud Lion and iTeach International, Fabrice is a serious Cloud Computing professional and passionate educator with worldwide experience. Multi-lingual, multi-cultural and cloud-ready. Fabrice’s proven expertise will transform your team and help your school take a leap forward – into the stratosphere. ☁️

Contact Fabrice to learn more today!

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Cloud Lion is there for you and your school.  We are proud to be a partner to SchoolAdvice, these are like-minded professionals that share our mission to provide the best possible value to schools in Canada and beyond.

Feel free to reach out to SchoolAdvice directly, so we can this start this school year off on the right foot!

On November 17th 2013 the most important event of my life took place – the birth of my son, Lance.  He grew up happily, while both his mother and I continued to work (thank you, maternal grandparents!). While life in Bangkok was very good to us, we felt there were more wholesome and stable places to raise a child (no offense to my Bangkokian friends). We made the decision to leave our expat life behind and repatriate back to Canada.

I would have loved to be a teacher here in my native(ish) Quebec.  But being an experienced teacher holding an M.Ed., two International Baccalaureate teaching certifications, a Cambridge teaching certification, and being a Level 2 Google Educator is not enough to teach here.  A Brevet d’enseignement is required, which would mean me going back to school at almost 40 years old.  

You can take me out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of me.  Needing to pay my bills, I gravitated back to the entrepreneurship –  I now train and teach adults on how to use Google technology, as well as other cloud computing solutions in business.

I love the fact these tools revolutionise the way people work, having a positive and invigorating effect on how people collaborate – making the impossible not only possible, but fun.  Businesses become more efficient.  They can now do more with less, better serving all their stakeholders.  Education need not only happen within classroom walls.  This transfer of knowledge, and more importantly of the thirst for such knowledge is something that motivates me to give more of myself each day.

But I would be lying to you if I said it brings me the same fulfilment as being a school teacher.  Teachers are the most important component in our society.  Truly.  

I promised this letter would not be hyperbolic, but I seriously feel that humanity stands on a crossroads.  Generations past, including ours, have made one hell of a mess of things – and it is up to today’s youth to figure out a way to clean up after us.  “Business as usual” will push us off a cliff, resulting in a world not worth inheriting to future generations.  As the older folks keel off and die, they implicitly say to the younger folks:  “It’s been fun, but I gotta go, good luck kid!”.   Our only hope is education.  Before I knew I was doing my part in the front lines, but now feel as if I am on the outside looking in.  

There world is awash with predictions on how things will change more in the next few years than they did in the last several decades.  How are Canadian schools today giving students the tools they will need  to solve the unforeseeable problems of tomorrow?  Would they even know where to start?

Places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Bangkok seem science-fiction esque compared to Quebec when in terms of technology utilization and vulgarization (sorry Quebecer fiends).  But even there I witnessed a paradox: schools have the sacred obligation to teach children to adapt, but they themselves are among the slowest institutions in our planet to do so.  Everyone is too busy to solve this unsolvable equation, so they would rather not permit themselves to dwell on the deep systemic issues they know to be true – almost every teacher I have met is an idealist, but a broken system, can be perilous to such a flame.  The insidious force of inertia, coupled with the crippling weight of bureaucracy, fueled by the greed of some has resulted in a grim cocktail.  Don’t ask me how people have acquiesced to stomach it, for that is beyond me. But whatever can we do?

 

This is where you come in!

Let us usher in a learning revolution (as sir Ken Robinson eloquently put it).  Students today can have an education that is fascinating and engaging beyond anything you and I could have ever imagined at their age.  Imagine how we could spark that lifelong thirst for knowledge – intrinsically propelling them to learn more, and do more and be more; as individuals, as teams, as Canadians, as citizens of the world.  Imagine how guided immersive Virtual Reality technologies could bring geography and history to life! Immagine how cutting-edge real-time collaborative tools could improve access to knowledge and revolutionize the very meaning of teamwork. Imagine what live broadcasting, coupled with video-conferencing could do to bring learning communities together.  Imagine unlimited online storage for everyone in schools.  Imagine a virtual learning environment that extends the physical learning environment seamlessly.  Imagine timid students finding a voice with these tools.  All this technology shielded by state-of-art security and privacy.  Imagine how much easier it would be for school’s IT departments, deploying apps, provisioning users and managing users with purpose-built devices (the work that would have taken them weeks can now take them minutes). Imagine what teachers could do if they received the right kind of PD, which could kick off everything previously described in this paragraph?   What if I told you that this rich ecosystem of enterprise-grade Google Apps is 100% free of charge for schools.

All it takes is vision, an open mind, and a willingness to accept that things can be better. Of course, there will be many who would rather protect the status quo.  There will be those who see continuous professional development as torture.  There will be many IT staff that feel this technology may potentially make them irrelevant – they will sound the alarm of imaginary demons, trying to scare decision makers away from evolution.

But do not listen to them.  Think about your students.  Remember, technology will never replace teachers – but teachers who use technology will replace those who do not.

Cloud Lion is there for you and your school.  We are proud to be a partner to SchoolAdvice, these are like-minded professionals that share our mission to provide the best possible value to schools in Canada and beyond.

Feel free to reach out to SchoolAdvice directly, so we can this start this school year off on the right foot!

Fabrice Vanegas

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