Cultural Awareness

6 Ideas To Raise Intercultural Awareness With Your Students/Children

Do you have a diverse mix of cultures in your classroom? Do you think they have a strong understanding of their own culture and those of their peers? How do they communicate across these cultures and overcome differences? Many people tend to think that “kids will be kids”. They will find a way to communicate. Though, quite often, they are under equipped and lack support to try and understand cultural differences.

As part of my 21st Century Skills blog series, we will explore six practical ideas on raising your students’ cultural awareness.Read More

21st Century Skills text with illustration of a group of young people

21st Century Skills In ‘21, Where Are We At?

Almost 40 years since the discussion about 21st-century skills (21CS) started, where are we now and what exactly is the general consensus in 2021? Whilst there are so many frameworks and definitions out there, how do we define 21st-century skills?Read More

Person watching video tutorials

The Evolution Of Vlogging

Our endless viewing of vlogs, baking tutorials and those fascinating videos from Jungle Survival, has Nellie Bly to thank. She can be considered as the world’s first blogger. In 1887, her work “Behind Asylum Bars” where she went undercover in a Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island went viral and changed the way institutions are run forever. Inspired by the book Around the World in 80 Days, Bly set sail in 1889 and documented her adventures – travel blogger (or vlogging) style. Her record-breaking trip only took 72 days!

Bly’s viral work and travel blogging got me thinking about how vlogging has dominated the way we tell stories and document our lives. 

And as someone who has done 7 vlogs (that you can watch here) and counting, I thought it would be interesting to dive into the evolution of vlogging and see how it has changed the way we tell stories. 

But Before That

You can find out more about Nellie Bly and other historical figures within our Hidden Histories collection from the Untold series – a project of the Driving Force Institute for Public Engagement. Produced and distributed by Makematic with the USC Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education.

The Early 2000’s

Adam Kontras. You’ve probably never heard his name, but he is known to have created the world’s first vlog. Kontras set off on a cross-country road trip and along the way, he would write blogs to send to his friends and family about his adventures. On January 2000, he posted a video with his blog, that shows him sneaking a cat into a hotel that has a “No Pets” policy, thus creating the first vlog.

On 24 April 2005, “Me at the zoo” by YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim was published on YouTube. You may not be aware of the significance of this video, but believe it or not, this was the first YouTube video ever. With Karim speaking in front of the camera and explaining his surrounding in this 18-second video, some even classify this clip as the first vlog ever on YouTube, which has 99M views and counting. 

The Bedroom Scene

Majority of the now-famous YouTubers began their vlogging careers in their bedroom talking in front of a webcam. However, one ‘video blogger’ as she phrased it in 2006, became the first viral sensation, first popular blogger on YouTube and first internet hoax. What a woman. Lonelygirl15  gained viewership quickly despite the seemingly ‘dull nature’ of the videos, pretty sure she says boring almost 6 times in her first video. However, a couple of months into her vlogging career, it was revealed that the channel was fake and that ‘Bree’ was actually an actress, and the whole series was produced LA-based creators. 

Despite the hoax that lonelygirl15 was, she paved the way for vlogging and future creators. She showed the world the potential of YouTube and how stories can be made, and it all started in the bedroom. It also shows you how old we are if you remember lonelygirl15. So thanks ‘Bree’.

The $21,000 First-Class Airplane Seat 

This was the first vlog I watched. To be honest, I didn’t want to watch vlogs back then because I would tend to feel jealous of what the person is showing me – like Casey Neistat (12.1M subs), who as the title states got a $21,000 first-class airplane seat, something that some of us can only get if we win the lottery. But after watching this vlog, I went down a deep rabbit hole and spent days watching his vlog channel.

Vlogs have evolved throughout the years and trying to write about it in one blog, is impossible. Famous vloggers, such as Casey, Liza Koshy (17.8M subs), David Dobrik (17.8M subs), have all brought something different to the vlogging world. Whether that’s playing truth or dare in public or filling the entire backyard with foam – vlogs can be about anything. 

Vlogs are about the authenticity of a creator. It’s about sitting down and talking in front of a camera or filming something completely different. Some vlogs have a staged element in them – pioneered by lonelygirl15 – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s difficult to shoot something that happens spontaneously, after all, it’s not every day that you get to film the cutest baby talk ever. So planning your vlog content to make it more interesting is a good way to start. Personally, I think this video illustrates it perfectly, it’s a planned vlog that is so chaotic and entertaining that it makes you want to watch more. 

So there you have it, a condensed version of the evolution of vlogging. Vlogging continues to evolve and creators continue to rise on the internet. So why not start your vlogs today?

Transition Year European Studies Students from The King's Hospital College Dubin

Makematic Case Study: #17DaystoLearn SDG Challenge

About

The Kings Hospital School, located in Dublin, is a co-educational secondary school for borders and day students, which offers a broad academic curriculum and a wide range of extracurricular activities.

Challenge/Problem

In Ireland young people participate in a Transition Year programme, which forms the first-year senior cycle in many schools. It’s a year that is designed to create a bridge between the Junior Certificate and the Leaving Certificate programmes. Transition Year is an option for students in most schools. It offers learners an opportunity to mature and develop without the pressure of an examination. It also provides an opportunity for learners to reflect on, and develop an appreciation of, the value of learning in preparing them for the ever-changing demands of the adult world of work, further and higher education and relationships.

When covid-19 hit and schools in the Republic of Ireland were required to go into lockdown. The year-long inquiry-based action projects that Transition Year students at The Kings Hospital School were doing with other schools in the European Union were put on hold. In particular, the eTwinning project that the students were organising called “Get up and goals” was put on hold indefinitely. This project partnered with schools in Croatia, Italy and Turkey and focused on learning about the SDGs and creating transnational actions projects to highlight global and local issues. The programme which had mostly been face-to-face was now completely online.

This posed a challenge – How could the students continue to engage with the global themes they’d been exploring and change the focus of the “Get up and goals” project? 

To continue on with their global education teacher Viki Malcolm encouraged her European studies students to complete the #17DaystoLearn Challenge. The #17DaystoLearn Challenge is a 17-day challenge to educate and inspire young people to take action around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In addition students at The Kings Hospital have taken their project online.

The original project plan was to have a community day of action planned for the issues raised for each SDG – however, lockdown ended that. Instead, students took their awareness campaigns online by creating Instagram or Twitter accounts for their chosen SDG and others conducted surveys of students in their school on their chosen topic. The collaborative work has been collated on a Wix site and this became the final product of the project.

Students were encouraged to complete at least one challenge – that which related to the challenge; they were to motivate students to get involved in the challenge and became an assessment item.

Results/Impact

Some students were inspired to complete each of the challenges for the #17DaystoLearn Challenge over each of the 17 days. Here is a reflection from one of the participants who actively engaged in the challenge.

I participated in the #17DaystoLearn Challenge for a couple of reasons. The main one was because my European Studies teacher encouraged me to take part. Throughout the past year, we have been working on a project with students from all over Europe, developing our knowledge of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. When I first heard about the #17DaystoLearn Challenge, I thought that it would be a great way to enhance my understanding of the Goals and help me to finish my project.

I started on Day 1 with the first Goal, No Poverty. I watched the relevant videos on the Makematic app, wrote a blog on my thoughts and completed the activity for the day. I did this for all 17 days.

Each day brought something new, whether it was learning about Reduced Inequalities or Life Below Water. I learned so much about a variety of different issues and how the UN is trying to achieve the 17 SDGs by 2030.

Because I did it for 17 days, I was able to spend time on each goal. In class, I had mainly focused on two or three goals but the #17DaystoLearn Challenge forced me to research all of the goals, expanding my knowledge on each of the interesting topics.

To achieve the 17 Goals by 2030, action is needed. Not just by the UN and governments worldwide, but action from every single citizen of the world. We all live on this Earth. We all have an important part to play.

Thomas Eve, 16 years old

Conclusion

Adjusting to the new normal whether that be in everyday life or in a virtual classroom is not an easy task. Nonetheless, it’s an adjustment that we are all facing. The students of The Kings Hospital school had impactful plans to inspire and educate others about the SDGs. However, with the effects of covid-19, the original plan of action halted. But with the use of technology they were able to continue their project online by participating in the #17DaystoLearn challenge. They utilized social media and websites to communicate and collaborate with what they have learned about 17 SDGs. They learned, participated and reflected about the SDGs and realised what role they play in ensuring that we meet the 17 SDGs by 2030.

What Will Your History Reveal For You?

We are currently entering a difficult time for the education sector because of the Covid-19 crisis.  I hear that universities in some countries are going to find as many as 90% of students deferring entry for a year, many of whom are overseas students and for whom therefore travel is almost impossible.

In our work at Makematic, we are involved in projects which bring a spotlight to historical figures and events which history has forgotten.   This is particularly relevant right now in terms of some of the issues that are being highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement.

As a father of two boys who at 2 and 5 are members of the post-millennial generation, I see lots of differences between them and me. I love being a dad, and one of the things I find the most intriguing is the way that both boys consume content in a totally different way to me.  Call me a dinosaur, but it has only really been in the last year or so that I have become a daily Youtube user after my eldest introduced me to the wonders within.   I had seen it before as a place where people who had ego issues put videos of themselves doing zany things alongside adverts for brands that I had already seen.  How wrong I was and corrected I stand…Youtube is today an essential part of my everyday consumption of media alongside all the other user suspects- social networks, online news sites, streaming 24/7 hour news broadcasts, Netflix…oh, I forgot…and live tv.  

In the case of my two sons, Youtube has been a lifesaver over the past few months of home-schooling, supplementing (for that read ‘largely replacing’!) work set by school with action and fact-packed 2-8 minute shorts designed exactly to catch the short attention span of an under-10 and hold it until the job has been done.  

Particular favourites in our household include Horrible Histories (the title says it all),  Homeschool Pop (a channel packed with lots of short videos on different aspects of history and lots of other things) and Freeschool (short videos on subjects ranging from the top 10 fastest runners in the animal kingdom to the planets of our solar system and everything in between).

I have presented at conferences as well as written before that it is crucially important in the networked economy to target customers using a language, style and media output which your audience are going to identify with and understand. This is exactly what the channels targeting my sons are doing and from this connection with their audiences, huge international brands such as Blippi are appearing.  And at the moment, more than ever, millions of millennials and post-millennials are the leading voices for change across the world, examining the history that they’ve been taught more closely and deciding that it’s time to change it and create a more transparent truth of their own. That change is being led both in the home with the click of a mouse, as well as in the street.  

GlobalWebIndex identified as far back as 2017 that amongst 16-64-year olds, 92% watch video clips regularly online and in the case of live tv, this was largely becoming redundant in the majority of peoples’ lives.  According to Deloitte, binge-watching of online content is favourite amongst millennials whilst if it is post-millennials who are the primary concern, then the continuous connection to video content services are a must.  Coincidentally, (?) the actor who plays Blippi made $7 million dollars last year.

Because of the pandemic, we are witnessing a forced and faster drive to greater dependence on online content and services.  Video, which has historically been prevalent since the early days of VHS, has now become a key and central part of everyone’s lives and the length of time that a human being has to consume each ‘morsel’ of content has become considerably smaller.

History usually does repeat itself, and, dependent on which philosophy you follow, cycles usually speed up and shorten.  When looking back at this period, a time when many things changed, what will your history reveal for you?

Animated image of the woods and a sign stating "National Park"

Where Does Your Daily Lockdown Walk Take You?

Under the current conditions that most of us are living, life has dramatically changed.  In our household, we’re going through a process of learning how to home-school with two very energetic young boys, 2 and 5. There is a mismatch between our aims and theirs –  they like to spend as much time playing outside as possible and avoiding any type of formal “study”.  We’re lucky in the fact that we have a big garden and live in leafy suburbs, and we’ve found that our daily lockdown walks have become an important feature in the structure of our lockdown life.  

Whilst my eldest son’s primary school is providing daily materials via a web app for download and use as loose lesson plans, it has been refreshing to see that his teacher is also actively encouraging the broadening of his intellectual horizon which we’re doing in our simple day-to-day activities including our much-prized daily walk.

At Makematic, we’ve focused heavily on themes of global citizenship and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which go hand-in-hand with these, in much of our work.  We’ve created a number of seasons of short films around both which engage and enthuse learners in the K12 sector around the world.  We’re currently involved heavily in the SDG Challenge #17daystolearn

And in our own day-to-day family life under lockdown, and on our walks, we’ve looked at these with my 5-year-old son.  

In the first instance, the challenge has been how to find a simple definition that a 5-year-old will understand what it means to be a global citizen. Definitions on the subject abound, so in my quest for a simple definition, I came across that of Hannah Arendt, the renowned German-American Philosopher. She said that it’s “an ethic or a care for the world”. So simple and so precise and it fits in perfectly with the SDGs.

Caring for the world on our walks means picking up litter in the eyes of a 5-year-old. He’s become obsessed with it! Along with saying hello to as many people as possible who we pass on our walks, all like us, trudging the neighbourhood streets, just happy to be out and about in the fresh air for a short time each day.  

It means waving to our elderly neighbour, attracting her attention bringing her to the window for a chat, making sure that she’s OK and has enough food. It means marvelling at the nature around us, something that we so often miss in the frenetic day-to-day sprint of everyday normal life. The streets and parks are so quiet now, it’s easy to hear a variety of different birds and then spot them, something to which we’re usually oblivious because of everyday background noise.

Most of all to a 5-year-old, it means scootering! We live in an area with some good hills and he’s personally made a video for SDG Challenge goal 4 on how to ride your scooter safely on a steep hill without falling off and hurting yourself.

Our daily walk takes us via different routes each day, finding streets which we didn’t know existed before. We’ve discovered a hidden park just 10 minutes from where we live. Our conversations vary depending on what we see and hear, and no two walks are ever the same. Reflecting on how this simple hour of freedom each evening has become central to our lives, as well as my children’s learning process, has highlighted how complicated that learning process has been before.

Our walks are opening our eyes to a different way of living and seeing the world. What are your walks doing for you?

global citizens

21st Century Global Citizenship

What is a 21st century global citizen and why does it matter?

Since we launched Makematic we’ve always tended towards certain kinds of projects.

Projects that had the potential to make an impact in the world. Change the way people think. Fill gaps. Help prepare young people for an uncertain future.

Whether that be by showcasing the hard work being done around the world to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals or simply helping teachers get to grips with technology.

But it’s only recently that we’ve started trying to understand what kinds of projects we should be doing; and what really excites us as a company.

The 21st Century Global Citizen

When we really start to boil it down, what gets us out of bed in the morning is the idea of helping young people prepare for a fast-changing, technology-driven, uncertain future.

Of course, trying to define that future might be something of a Fools’ Errand (sidebar: also the name of my favourite text-based video game from the 1980’s) but we can start to think about the kind of skills and traits that will be useful.

We’re narrowed it down to our six core themes:

#1 Digital Technology
21st Century Global Citizens will be digitally savvy. They’ll understand how technology works, how it impacts the world and how to make it work for them.

#2 Global Mindedness
They’ll also be globally aware. Aware of different cultures. Open to engaging. And ready to tackle global challenges.

#3 Civic Engagement
As well as engaging with the world at large, they’ll be active participants in their own communities and civic discourse.

#4 Problem Solving
They’ll need to have strong creative problem solving and critical thinking skills.

#5 Strong Personal Traits
Necessarily, we believe they’ll need strong social-emotional skills like empathy, resilience and perseverance

#6 Career Preparedness
And of course the world of work will be very, very different.

This kind of list is never going to be exhaustive, but we think these six overlapping themes speak to the heart of some of our biggest challenges; both in education and in society at large.

As a company, we see our role as working with the brands, publishers and non-profits who share our aims to bring these topic areas to life through engaging content.

We want to make them accessible to educators, parents and young people wherever they are in the world.

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