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[conf/teens] The Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age Forum 

Hi! This is Nafiza Akter, and I was one of the youth attending the Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age Forum. This forum was put together, as far as my understanding goes, to look at how technology could be used and incorporated into the current educational system for the benefit of the students. The nine youth that attended, organized by Global Kids, all helped to incorporate actual youth voices into the forum since the entire event was based around how technology could be used in the educational system that we have been receiving and experiencing. The event was held at the Googleplex, which, as you can imagine, was more reason to why no one would want to miss an opportunity to attend this event.

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Shonette and I arrive at the GooglePlex

Virtual World Capacity Building Program 

VWCP-logo200.jpgIn August, Global Kids graduated its first cohort of nonprofit staffers who participated in the Virtual World Capacity Building Program, a four-week introduction to virtual worlds and their applications for civic and cultural institutions. These four organizations -- the Vera Institute of Justice, the Adler Planetarium, Architreasures, and the National Writing Project -- had almost no experience with virtual worlds prior to the program, but by the end of the four-week course were able to speak cogently and insightfully about how these digital tools fit into their larger institutional missions. Over the course of the four-weeks, these staffers explored a number of different virtual worlds, created avatars for themselves, learned how to build 3d objects and bring in multimedia resources, and engaged in in-depth conversations about the strengths and challenges of working with these new media tools. (You can see a report about this first Virtual Roundtable.)

Introducing the Edge Project 

“To transform the core, start at the edge.” -- John Hagel and John Seely Brown

The Edge Project is part of Global Kids recent support from the MacArthur Foundation to expand the capacity of civic and cultural institutions to use new media as innovative educational platforms that engage youth in learning and promote youth civic participation. More specifically, the Edge Project is interested in civic and cultural institutions bringing cutting edge digital media into their youth educational programs. It is equally interested in where this type of programming - due to technology, its pedagogical implications or both - is a disruptive force challenging the educators and/or the institutional cultural to work on the edge of their comfort level. There is a balancing act they must undertake, being receptive to how new media challenges their current educational culture and practice while, in turn, challenging the educational potential of new media through interacting with that very culture and practice. At the end of the day, we want to better understand the following questions: how do institutions find their balance working on this edge and do different types of institutions respond in different ways?

Supporting Civic and Cultural Institutions With New Media Practices 

“Learning simply looks different today. Digital media are not only changing how young people are accessing and consuming new knowledge, but they are extending the classroom to more informal and unconventional spaces, such as libraries, museums and even online communities. These institutions need to adapt to this new environment.” -- MacArthur Vice President Julia Stasch.

This Fall, Global Kids received support from the MacArthur Foundation to expand the capacity of civic and cultural institutions to use virtual worlds, as well as other emerging forms of digital media like digital games and social media, as innovative educational platforms that engage youth in learning and promote youth civic participation.

Through this grant, over the next two years, Global Kids will undertake three models for capacity building:

[Staff] October Staff Reflections 

With Halloween behind us, OLP staff are off to a running start. Read what we have been doing over the past month, starting with a quick overview: Rik looks at the challenges of digital tools for newbies, Barry reflects on various GK alternative assessment tools, Krista writes about her past year working at GK and Amira talks about a new GK initiative working with U.S. jails.

Read the reflections below for a more in-depth description:

Using Alternative Assessment Models to Empower Youth-directed Learning 

Below is an article by Barry Joseph originally posted on the Breakthrough Learning In a Digital Age site entitled "Using Alternative Assessment Models to Empower Youth-directed Learning." It focuses around several assessment models used in our programs, along with example outcomes from one of our youth. It also announces our newly created, MacArthur Foundation funded, Global Kids Edge Project.

Read more below or the full entry and comments here.

Tashawna is a high school senior in Brooklyn, NY. In the morning she leaves home for school listening to her MP3s, texting her friends about meeting up after school at Global Kids, where she participates in a theater program, or FIERCE, the community center for LGBT youth. On the weekend she'll go to church and, on any given day, visit MySpace and Facebook as often as she can. While she misses television and movies, she says she just can't find the time.

[staff] Using Alternative Assessment Models to Empower Youth-directed Learning 

Tashawna is a high school senior in Brooklyn, NY. In the morning she leaves home for school listening to her MP3s, texting her friends about meeting up after school at Global Kids, where she participates in a theater program, or FIERCE, the community center for LGBT youth. On the weekend she'll go to church and, on any given day, visit MySpace and Facebook as often as she can. While she misses television and movies, she says she just can't find the time.

This describes what we can call Tashawna's distributed learning network, the most important places in her life where learning occurs. Not just at home, school and church but also through digital media, like MP3s, SMS and social networks, and at youth-serving institutions, like Global Kids and FIERCE. Some are places that require her presence, like school, while others are opt-in, like MySpace. But the learning she gathers across the nodes in her network are preparing her to succeed in the classrooms, workplaces, and civic arenas of the 21st Century.

If you will be in the Philadelphia area on November 18th, make sure to register for the following event. Global Kids will also be simulcasting this event online and into Second Life for those not able to attend in person, to be able to participate. Stay tuned for more information on this. Event details and registration link below.

[conf] Bringing Youth Voices to Breakthrough Learning Forum 

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Next week, Global Kids will be leading a team of youth leaders to a landmark event in the world of digital learning. The event, titled Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age, is being organized by the Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, Common Sense Media and Google and will be held at the GooglePlex on October 27th and 28th. It's aimed at bringing attention to new forms of learning facilitated by technology, and will be attended by policymakers, industry leaders, education practitioners and researchers, and, of course, by digital youth. The youth team will consist of kids from Global Kids, the Bay Area Video Coalition and MOUSE, and will aim to bring in a youth voice to the forum in a variety of ways. We're really excited that the organizers put a priority on making sure actual teens were a part of this important conversation, as so often they aren't.

This afternoon I had the opportunity to speak to around 70 program officers from a wide variety of foundations at the Grantmakers in the Arts pre-conference entitled "New Media and the Arts: A Force for Change." I had fifteen minutes to present on the "new tools" panel, using GK's own work as case studies.

Most would choose one or two and go deep. But if you know me, no way. I took on gaming, virtual worlds AND social media - how can I help it? - giving examples from each.

The presentation is below: