Last Saturday I had the honor of presenting at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference about the work of Global Kids and some of the lessons we have been learning about how to best use virtual worlds for education and learning. The multi-day conference took place in Second Life, appropriately enough given the hundreds of educational projects going on in that platform, but was meant to more broadly cover "educational best practices" from virtual environments writ large.

The title of my presentation was "'Aha!' Moments from Global Kids and RezEd.org." In brief, I talked about how Global Kids and our social network for virtual educators RezEd.org have approached the idea of "best practices" in education and then presented five recent lessons that we've learned about virtual education. You can watch video of my presentation from the new Treet.TV website.

Apply for the GK 2009 Summer Institute 

GK 2009 Summer Institute Application

This year the U.S. in the World: Int'l Law and Foreign Policy Program will take place from July 13th -31st at the Council on Foreign Relations. I've attached the program brochure along with the application packet.

Students eligible to apply should be rising juniors and seniors in 2009-2010 (i.e. current sophomors and juniors).

  • Download informational flyer here.
  • Download Summer Institute application here.

All documents, including application, can also be accessed at: www.globalkids.org/?id=52

For more information on U.S. in the World: International Law and U.S. Foreign Policy, please contact Eddie Mandhry at Global Kids at (212) 226-0130 or usintheworld@globalkids.org.

[mm/teen] Bitstrips comic 

Click for full size.

This is a comic that I made about cultural mis-steps. I made it about the etiquette in Japan. In this comic strip, I have a foreign person that is late to a business meeting and his boss is angry with him. In Japan, being late to work, school, and any other type of activity is considered very rude. So coming early is a daily norm for the Japanese people. In my opinion, negotiation is a very important skill because when it comes to negotiating, you can work out compromises or bargains with others.
People should spend time getting better at negotiation because a lot of the situations that turn violent in today's society could be solved with that skill alone. It benefits both sides of the problem. If we don't get better at negotiation, then there will be a lot more problems that will end badly for society. Learning to get better at negotiation will help improve our adaptation to different cultures and norms.

National Service-Learning Conference in Second Life
Tomorrow, March 20, Global Kids will be streaming from (and participating in) the National Service-Learning Conference in Nashville, TN for the third straight year. The conference is an inspiring gathering of over 2,700 students, teachers, youth-workers and volunteers focused on service learning. For more info on the conference, please see the conference website.

For those who can't make it to Nashville, Global Kids will be streaming several sessions from the NSLC live to the Plush Nonprofit Commons Amphitheater (click here to teleport ).

The complete schedule is as follows:

I'm pleased to announce the opening of registration for Focus on Digital Media! Focus is a set of online dialogues which we ran first in 2007 to bring youth voices to the societal changes that digital media is bringing. One of the biggest pieces of feedback we got from the teens involved was that they were navigating the online world almost entirely without adults. We figured that the two groups probably need to be talking a bit more. So, our second, cross-generational version of Focus will have parents, teens and teachers exploring the promise and perils of life online for three weeks, from April 13th to May 4th.

We're partnering with Common Sense Media and the GoodPlay Project at Harvard's Project Zero to bring you an experience where you'll be able to explore core issues about the online world, like privacy, identity and credibility, and also bring up the any other issues that are real for you in your digital life.

[MM] Prospect Heights Campus students create their school's Wikipedia entry 

Below is the story that was in NML's latest e-newsletter, from researcher Flourish Klink observing Global Kids' Media Masters program and the student's of Prospect Heights Campus working to create their school's Wikipedia entry.

[staff] Notes from Wakatta 

Below are my notes with some background from the first Wakatta design charette, supported by some relevant Calvin and Hobbes strips my son asked me to read the following day:

Calvin and Hobbes on Learning Institutions

On Thursday and Friday, March 12th and 13th, I was invited to participate in a design charette held at the New School (if you don’t know what a charette is, don’t worry - just read on). The university building supporting the event, once a popular department store, is slated to be knocked down any day. This was a perfect metaphor for the goal of the event - work with two dozen or so other learning institutions around New York City, such as museums, libraries, after school programs, etc., to explore how learning in our city could be transformed if we built a cross-institutional, youth-centered network using digital media.

The project, named Wakatta (“I get it” in Japanese) issued the following challenge to the illustrious participants in the room:


From February 25-27, I had the opportunity to go to the WebWise conference in Washington DC, an annual gathering of 300-some professionals from libraries and museums to discuss how to keep their cultural institutions relevant in the digital age.  It was great getting to hear from some of the leading museums and libraries in America (The Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the US Holocaust Museum, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc) about how they are struggling, debating and at times innovating in this space. 

My overall sense was that this is still very much an untested frontier for these often conservative and stodgy institutions.  Most projects I encountered were in the initial planning or pilot phase. But there is also a lot of excitement in the air among these librarians, museum directors, curators, IT experts and web developers about the potential for digital technologies to help reinvent their institutions and reach new audiences with their content and knowledge.

[Staff] OLP February Staff Reflections 

OLP’s staff reflections for February are up!

[staff] Program design through implementation and iteration 

One of the ideas that's been on my mind recently is the importance of developing educational programs through a process of implementation and iteration. This is a somewhat intuitive concept, but has been raised for me recently as I engage in program and curriculum design in the Media Masters program, and as I watch as we begin training New York Public Library educators to implement our Playing 4 Keeps gaming program, the first online program at GK that we're scaling.

With Media Masters, an experimental pilot program that we're partnering with MIT's Project New Media Literacies to conduct, every piece of curriculum and the entire program design is brand new. In each project we engage in, we're taking guesses (educated, of course, but still guesses) as to whether something will work. Will students be interested in creating a wikipedia pages themselves? How long should a process like that take? How do we motivate participants to work collaboratively? And then we try it out, see what happens, circle back around and talk about how it worked. That implementation informs the way that we design and put into practice new projects that work off of similar principles.