University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Alumnus Awarded a Fulbright Research Postgraduate Grant

Michael Jones, an alumnus of the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Education has been awarded a Fulbright Research postgraduate grant to Laos. The Fulbright grant will cover the costs of round-trip transportation to Laos and maintenance for the academic year.

Jones received his Master’s Degree in Teaching from the USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2007. He is the executive director of Open Equal Free (OEF), a not for profit he established that works to improve the quality of education in the developing world. OEF connects educational professionals to lesson plans, news, information, networking opportunities and other resources. He has served on the board of directors for a local and national nonprofit in the US, taught for six years both in the US and abroad, and worked as a teacher trainer and education consultant for an NGO in Cambodia. Jones has given presentations on developing curricula for the developing world in Singapore, on rethinking Education for Development, in Cambodia, and on the power of the open content movement at TEDx.

“I’m so excited to have been awarded a Fulbright grant,” said Jones. “Not only is it a tremendous honor, but it will allow me to continue my work on improving the quality of education in the developing world. I’ve always thought, and research repeatedly shows, that education is a vital key for improving one’s life. I feel so lucky to be empowered to spend a year helping to improve lives in Laos, and hope to make my work adaptable and usable in countries all over the world.”

The Fulbright research grant will allow Jones to travel to Laos and research educational practices being implemented in Laotian schools and the effectiveness of NGOs at influencing and improving pedagogy in the schools they work with. He will be looking at how well modern educational practices are being adapted for Laotian schools and what difficulties teachers and NGOs face in adapting them. Jones will be working with both Open Equal Free and Child’s Dream to connect with schools and create resources (lesson plans, learning materials, and activities) designed to improve education and teacher quality in Laos.

“Michael has a strong commitment to Open Education Resources and Creative Commons licensing. He is successfully working to meet the educational needs of children in rural Cambodia, but in a much larger sense, he is a leader in modeling how effective education is practiced in the 21st Century,” said Dr. Rebecca Burns, Asst. Professor of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) USFSM College of Education and one of his former professors.

The Office of National Scholarships identifies, recruits and mentors high achieving students to apply for national merit scholarships across all disciplines. The scholarships and fellowships are for creative, motivated and academically strong students who are leaders in and out of the classroom.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 155 countries worldwide. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered by the Institute of International Education.

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