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Why the World Needs Critically Thinking Global Citizens? Innovative Strategies to Prepare Your Students for a Future of Uncertainty

Why the World Needs Critically Thinking Global Citizens? Innovative Strategies to Prepare Your Students for a Future of Uncertainty

artificial intelligenceThe likelihood that today’s careers will survive in the future, alongside driverless cars and Artificial Intelligence, is slim to none (see the likelihood of different careers to survive in the BBC article Will a robot take your job?). Instead, we’re more likely to see an increase in entrepreneurship and careers that are more technologically-driven and global in nature.

In their lifetimes, our students will also face the potential escalation of massive and complex social and environmental challenges, from climate change to epidemics, operating on an international scale.

As a non-profit organization, our goal at WorldVuze is to help foster critically thinking global citizens not only to help students to become successfully employed in this future world, but also to equip them with the skills they’ll need to tackle and solve these complex problems. We characterize a critically thinking global citizen as a person who is:

  • An informed and curious investigator;
  • A critical thinker who thoughtfully engages with the world;
  • Comfortable with complexity and open-minded when faced with diversity and uncertainty;
  • Respectful of and empathetic to different cultures and seeks to understand different points of view.
Michael Fullan's 6 C's

Michael Fullan’s 6 C’s

This set of skills, often grouped as “21st century skills” or by Michael Fullan as the 6 C’s, encompass competencies from critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, citizenship, communication, to character. We built our WorldVuze technology  specifically for the K-12 education community to create opportunities for these important skills and competencies to be practiced and applied in an authentic and safe environment.

We also understand that any technology must be rooted in and scaffolded by strong pedagogy in order to successfully support truly powerful and transformative learning. Through our professional development training workshops, educators can learn how to use our technology to regularly integrate powerful global learning experiences into their curriculum and support their students in their development as critical, creative and collaborative global citizens.

This July 4 and 5th 2016, we are partnering with Dr. Garfield Gini-Newman from the Critical Thinking Consortium and Amanda Humphreys, classroom educator from the Bishop Strachan School, to offer a 2-day workshop at the BSS Summer Symposium in Toronto.

We invite you to bring WorldVuze PD to your school or event by choosing from our Full-Day and Half-Day workshop options or by working with our team to design a custom PD workshop, which can be tailored to your group by grade and subject area (see our list of PD units below). For more information or to design and schedule your own workshop, please contact Julia Coburn at julia@worldvuze.com.

PD UNITS

Asking Powerful Questions
Learn how to use an innovative framework for asking powerful, critical thinking questions and practice applying it hands-on. Gain strategies for developing critical thinking questions collaboratively with your students that your class can pose to a global community.

Competency Focus: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Inquiry

Facilitating Thoughtful Inter-Cultural Communicators
Unpack a framework for facilitating thoughtful inter-cultural communicators. Using real-life posts from students on WorldVuze, practice providing helpful feedback to guide your students to share more thoughtful answers, comments, and “mindshifts” in an authentic global learning environment of their peers.

Competency Focus: Communication, Citizenship, Critical Thinking

Global Curriculum Connections Through Inquiry
Learn strategies to regularly integrate authentic and engaging global learning experiences into your curriculum by leveraging the WorldVuze technology throughout the inquiry process from:

  • Formulating questions,
  • Gathering and organizing data,
  • Analyzing and interpreting patterns in perspectives, and
  • Communicating to a diverse global community.

*We can tailor this unit to your group based on grade and subject area or offer a broader, more inter-disciplinary session

Competency Focus: Critical Thinking, Communication, Creativity

Re-Thinking Global Citizenship
Explore global citizenship through multiple lenses and reflect on the impact of these different approaches. Uncover the breadth of what a global citizen can look like and develop a model for the kind of global learning experiences you hope to foster in your own classroom.

Competency Focus: Citizenship

Navigating WorldVuze
Become a WorldVuze expert! In this hands-on session we will help you navigate all the regular features of the platform (signing up, creating a class, posting a question, student activity assessment) as well as provide you with valuable tips to enable you and your students to make the most of this innovative and unique tool. For example, accessing student reports, posting video questions, exploring perspectives by using multiple filters and pie charts, creating engaging class profiles and how to take action on real-world issues.

Competency Focus: Information Technology

Investigating Powerful Teacher and Student WorldVuze Case Studies
Investigate first-hand teacher and student case studies to discover how teachers and students around the world are creating powerful global learning experiences using WorldVuze that foster critical, collaborative, and creative thinking. Learn how:

  • Students are empowered to drive their own inquiries to deepen their understanding of real-world issues
  • Individual students and classrooms can take action and make a meaningful impact by initiating or participating in WorldVuze challenges
  • Educators are using WorldVuze to engage all students in their curriculum

Competency Focus: Critical Thinking, Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, Citizenship

Learn How One Class is Using WorldVuze in 3 Minutes!

We joined teacher librarian, Jean Rehder, from Nelson Mandela Public School in Toronto, Canada who shared with us how she is using WorldVuze with classes at her school to inspire powerful student-driven dialogue. Check out this quick 3 minute video to learn some tips for integrating global perspectives into your curriculum.

5 Steps to Get Your Class Started on WorldVuze

5 Steps to Get Your Class Started on WorldVuze

Are you looking for an authentic way to engage your students in what they’re learning? Here’s 5 simple steps for how you can safely and easily integrate global learning as a regular practice in your curriculum. On WorldVuze, your class can ask powerful questions related to your curriculum for a global community of students to answer. Students can then explore these diverse perspectives in many engaging ways, using maps, filters, and graphs that allow them to compare perspectives by province/region/state, city, town, and country, as well as by age, and time and dig deeper to understand why other young people are thinking the way they do.

5 Steps to Get You Started:
1) Create a New Class for Your Students to Join

Add Your ClassEvery teacher on WorldVuze is validated to ensure a trusted community of elementary and secondary school teachers and their students are the only one’s on the site. Students must be connected to at least one class to use WorldVuze. This way, as an educator you can keep track of all of the content your students are posting.

Set a class end date (i.e. the end of the school year). This means, your students will only be able to use WorldVuze when they’re in school. Students can join a new class when they return!

2) Students Sign-Up or Add a New Class 

Student Sign-Up

 

Every class has a unique 8 digit/letter class code. Find your class code by going to your Profile page, under your “Class” tab. Share this class code with your students to either sign-up (for first-time users) on www.worldvuze.com, or add a new class, by logging in with their username and password and entering in this new class code.

 

 

 


3) Search for Relevant Questions

explore questions

Search for relevant questions to what you’re learning by filtering questions by category, age, or time; searching for questions by keyword or geographic location (i.e. “climate change” or “Sierra Leone”); or browsing questions using the arrows on your dashboard.

4) Post Your Own Powerful Questions

Ask a Question

Work with your students to create a powerful question that you want to share with a global community of students. Teachers, post this question on behalf of your class by clicking on the orange “Ask a Question” button on the top right corner of your dashboard. Remember, every question will have both a multiple choice and an open ended part to it.

 

 

 

5) Share and Explore Local and Global Perspectives!

Explore perspectivesYour students can now share their own perspectives on meaningful questions, as well as explore and find patterns in thousands of other student perspectives across the globe.

 

 

WorldVuze is a non-profit platform and free for teachers and students to use. Why? We envision a future where young people from diverse backgrounds within and outside of their communities consider themselves as equals and are open to considering and understanding multiple points of view. In doing so, we hope they will form a deeper understanding of themselves, each other, and the world around them, as well as build the skill set and mindset needed to become effective 21st century problem solvers.

Need more help? Walk through how to use WorldVuze step-by-step with these quick demo videos.

Not signed up to WorldVuze? Join today by signing up at www.worldvuze.com.

Already on WorldVuze? Spread the word (by sharing this blog) with five more educators and grow your global learning community!

What is our role as a global community to protect the Earth’s biodiversity?

What is our role as a global community to protect the Earth’s biodiversity?

International-Day-for-Biological-Diversity.jpg.cdb6cc6aa26ddf416ca29e7517111b22Next Friday, May 22nd is the International Day for Biological Diversity. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 22,000 species have been identified as at risk of extinction on their “red list”. This includes species from the Amur Leopard, Leatherback Turtle, Mountain Gorilla, Black Rhino, and Yangtze Finless Porpoise, species that are all Critically Endangered.

Here’s your opportunity as a global community to have important discussions not only about our role in protecting the Earth’s biodiversity, but also how we will go about achieving this goal. Tag your questions with the word “biodiversity”! You can also find excellent questions already asked by classrooms on WorldVuze by searching key words, such as “environment”.

These conversations do not need to end, and in fact should not end, after May 22nd. Keep these important conversations going all year long and invite more classrooms to join the dialogue. The more perspectives that are shared, the better our understanding of the world.

No Name-Calling Week: What does it mean to keep your school safe?

This week (Jan 19th-23rd) is No Name Calling Week. This is a week to spotlight no-name calling and anti-bullying. It is a time to think of how your school can become a safe place for everyone.

Child Helpline International (CHI) is a “global network of 192 child helplines in 145 countries”. CHI reported that 28 million children and youth internationally contacted child helplines between 2012 to 2013 where they commonly requested assistance, council, or referral on abuse and violence (29%); psycho-social mental health (14%); peer relationships (125); family relationships (11%); sexuality and sexual awareness (9%); and school-related matters (5%).

Since as early as 1999, bullying unfortunately has extended into cyberspace and is becoming a growing phenomenon due to increased access to ICT and use of social networking sites. Cyberbullying can cross mediums from text message, email, blogs, and social media. According to PREVNet (Promoting Relationships & Eliminating Violence Network) 1 in 3 Canadian youth reported being cyberbullied and 78% believe not enough is being done to stop bullying in their community.

Students need to learn how to conduct themselves ethically both on and offline and as a community we must be prepared to step in to stop it in its’ tracks.

Extend conversations and activities happening at your school and find out what is happening at other schools locally and around the world by posting questions and engaging in meaningful conversations on WorldVuze. What is the experience at other schools with this issue? How are schools addressing bullying and do students believe the approach is effective? What do students in different areas of the world believe are the root causes of bullying? Where do students see bullying happen most frequently?

Looking for Practical Ways to Integrate WorldVuze into Your Curriculum?

We want to help! There are many creative ways you can pull WorldVuze into your classroom to add real-world context, a deeper global understanding, and provide more enriching learning experiences for your students.

The exercise of students developing a provoking question, communicating their own opinion in a cross-cultural environment, and processing/ interpreting/ analyzing multiple and diverse perspectives shared by other students around the world on WorldVuze has significant potential for building much needed higher order thinking skills and 21st century competencies (i.e. critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, collaboration, citizenship). We believe the greatest potential is when the tool is used through an inquiry-based and student-centred approach.

If you have questions about how to practically integrate WorldVuze into your curriculum, here’s how we can help:

Submit Your Questions
Email your questions to us at info@worldvuze.com. A skilled educator will share suggestions and advice with you.

Explore Case Studies
Find out how other classrooms have been using WorldVuze on our Case Studies page. Stay tuned for many more entries to come!

Join an Upcoming Workshop
If you would like more hands-on support, you may consider a workshop at your school. Email us at info@worldvuze.com to request more information. Workshops will be available starting in March 2015.

Lastly, in the future, we would also like to create an entire Teacher Community section of the WorldVuze platform to support peer-to-peer learning, sharing ideas and resources, and networking.

Turn the news into a conversation and engage in a “diversity of thought”

An article in the Guardian today “Why does diversity in the media sector matter?” discussed the importance of diversity in forming and reporting on the news, bringing together news agencies from the BBC, the Guardian, GNM, and Knight-Mozilla. They note that diversity goes beyond looking or sounding different, but involves many factors coming together (age, background, life experiences, peers) that influence the “diversity of thought”.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 9.16.29 AMOn WorldVuze classrooms have the opportunity to ask questions that matter to them. Sometimes these questions are formed from a book you are reading or a discussion that has stemmed from the unit you are working on in class. Another way you can engage your students in meaningful dialogue on important local and global issues is by using the news as a starting point.

Take this article about the loss of a Northern white rhino at the San Diego zoo, leaving only 5 remaining members of the subspecies in the world. This is an opportunity for your class to engage in the inquiry process and think of a wide array of questions. Some questions may be:

  • What role do you think zoos should play in conserving wildlife?
  • What do you think is the responsibility of the “average person” to protect endangered or threatened species?
  • What support do you think conservationists need to truly protect endangered species, such as the Northern white rhino?

The process of developing a good question that can inspire a meaningful and engaging discussion can be challenging, but is one of the most important parts of this learning process. Set criteria with your class about what a “good question” looks like for WorldVuze (one important criteria you should strongly consider is that the question seeks opinion or perspective, not fact).

The value of being exposed to a diversity of perspectives is immense. It is central to developing fundamental 21st century competencies such as critical thinking and collaboration. It helps break down barriers and stereotypes by going beyond any one isolated point of view representing a place, such as a country or a city. By exploring multiple points of view on a regular basis, it not only creates an opportunity to consider new perspectives and ways of thinking, but can also alter our perception of each other.

Diversity helps to inspire innovation and creativity. In fact, in the September 2014 issue of Scientific American focused on Diversity from a scientific perspective in a series of articles. One article, by Fred Guterl, “Diversity in Science: Why it is Essential for Excellence” found that diversity relates to the quality and effectiveness of teams as it makes us address our unconscious biases and tends to make people prepare and critically analyze their own point of view more thoroughly as a result. The article goes on to share the gravity of being exposed to a diversity of thought in saying: “Scientists pride themselves on their objectivity, but personal experience and point of view have a lot to do with what questions get asked in the first place and how researchers go about answering them. The people in science and engineering are driving the world’s most vital engine of prosperity and new ideas. Who are they?”.

If you take this concept beyond science and apply this phenomenon to all fields (i.e. environmental management, international development, city planning, etc.), you can only imagine the potential impact it can have on how we may solve all of our most pressing problems.

Why do students think WorldVuze matters?

WorldVuze wouldn’t matter if students didn’t care. Before we began our pilot in April, over 300 students answered a pre-pilot survey where 92% said they are more interested in school when they “care about what they are learning”.

Young people will need to address complex and multi-layered global challenges in their life time – the environment, politics, health, food, energy, the economy. For the same reason that these issues are complex and multi-layered, they are easy for people to feel disconnected to, to feel overwhelmed in their immensity.

What we found out is this. Students are engaged when they are able to share their own opinion. Students are excited by questions that challenge their thinking. Students care about what other young people have to say.

By creating an environment where students have an outlet to engage in meaningful global dialogue with other students their own age, students develop a deeper interest in these challenging and complex topics. At the end of the pilot in June, 92% of students shared that WorldVuze helped them care more about what they are learning.

It is this kind of fascination and curiosity we believe will be needed in our leaders who will ultimately tackle these challenges and effectively and collaboratively address them.

How it All Began…

Before creating WorldVuze, we facilitated international classroom partnerships for four years between schools in Tanzania and Canada through our Tanzanian NGO, Cross Community Connect. In the process, we came across many obstacles with the tools we were using, ranging from time consuming facilitation, time zone differences, technical issues, and a lack of sustained meaningful dialogue. These same concerns were echoed by hundreds of teachers that we talked to over the years.

In the end, our greatest concern of facilitating one-to-one partnerships was exposing students to a “narrow” view of any place. Creating a connection between two classrooms, such as one class in Tanzania and one class in Canada, in isolation had the potential to reinforce stereotypes and give students a false confidence that by knowing these few perspectives, they understood a whole country or continent!

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 11.24.19 AM

An example of this happening was when we asked grade 3 students in Toronto, Canada to describe their “biggest problem” as if they were a student from Uvinza, Tanzania (a village in Western Tanzania). The response was overwhelmingly, “water issues”. In fact, these grade 3 students were so confident the major problem in Uvinza was water issues they moved on to brainstorm how they would solve this problem and were prepared to ship the other class water bottles.

When we later showed the grade 3 students the responses from students actually living in Uvinza, Tanzania, they were shocked to find out that the most common problem sited was not “water issues” but dangerous animals, with water issues way down the list. Keep in mind this is again one class, in one village, not a city or a town, in one country in Africa…and by no means a full representation!! Nonetheless, learning these first hand perspectives stopped these students in their tracks and made them think “we should have asked them questions first!”

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 11.23.22 AM

This confirmed just how critical it was to have a place where students could explore a diversity of perspectives from any one place, on any topic. Ultimately, we hope to see millions of students locally and around the world sharing perspectives, breaking down barriers between individuals from diverse geographic, socioeconomic, and cultural backgrounds and in the process, help develop a generation of young people that are open to considering and understanding multiple points of view. We believe this is critical to forming meaningful and effective change.