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
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?
As a 17-year-old living in the cusp of protest, revolution and change, I am very proud and passionate about the BLM movement and trying to reform the police system in America. While many call them “riots” and discourage them because of violence, it’s important to look at the suffrage movement and its supporters who:
- smashed windows
- chained themselves to railings
- planted bombs
- slashed paintings
All to get their word across after constantly being demeaned by the government and the public because of their want to get the vote.
While obviously violence is the last resort and peaceful protesting should always be the way to go, sometimes the higher ups will not listen until you stir something up. Even worse you get attacked for peaceful protesting or denied services and you have to defend yourself. This topic is one of the reasons why I love history, and feel that people should learn about events that happened in the last century or so as history repeats itself. I’m sure that if they educated themselves on similar events they would be a lot more open-minded about the movement.
History and Culture
In general, history has allowed us to understand different cultures and how they react to topics like gender and sexuality. While most people in the western world like to think that gender is binary and biological, that is not the case. Not only would that be against the original coiners (John Money’s) description of gender identity, which is something more related to your feelings, but it completely disregards other cultures interpretation of gender where there are more than two. An example of this is in Native American culture where two spirits were people who combined both male and female activities in their tribe and took specialised roles such as being a shaman or healer. In some tribes the male and female two spirits are different, making there a fourth gender in their tribe, and two spirits commonly formed relationships with non two spirit people of the same sex, another contentious topic in the post-colonial world.
Sexuality was also a lot more fluid in other cultures and even featured in many myths, the most well known being Apollo and Hyancinthus, a greek myth about the relationship between the Sun God Apollo and his male lover. Even Heracles was bisexual, having around 9 male lovers known in myths.
There are so many different cultural interpretations of these topics that are not well known in the modern world which is the main reason I love history. It shows how factors like religion, locations and events can make one area of the map have a completely different worldview than the other. I really do think that if more people sat down with others who had different life experiences than them and talked, or even if more people were taught about these worldviews and events in school, our world would not be as divided.
History In The Classroom
This brings me to my biggest point, which is that classroom learning should teach more about different cultures and topics like homophobia, racism and transphobia. In many secondary schools, pupils are only taught the basic definitions of these topics but they never talk about recent examples or events. The Stonewall riots happened in 1969! If Marsha P Johnson, the Drag Queen who threw the first brick at police officers at Stonewall was still alive, she would only be 75 years old! The civil rights movement ended in 1968. This isn’t something that is old, this isn’t something that your great-great-grandparents saw.
This is something that was happening during the time of your grandparents, even maybe your mother and fathers! How are we going to learn if our newest generations keep thinking that this is all in the past and doesn’t happen anymore? One in five LGBT people experienced hate crimes due to their sexuality in the last 12 months, two in five trans people experiencing the same. This isn’t a thing of the past, and I feel if teachers taught about this in their history classes more people would be open-minded and ready to protest for change.
Over To You
After reading this, I implore you to look up a different culture’s history. Any at all. Pick the first one that comes to mind and see how their experiences and ideologies differ from yours. The more people have worldly knowledge about the people around them and how they can be more mindful and less hateful about something that other people cannot control, the more we will progress and truly become a perfect world.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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?
According to Pew Research, 51% of the world’s population is under the age of 25 and is more racially diverse than other generations. Known as post-millennials, young people born after 1995, are a generation who have lived through a great recession and have never known a world without technology. They are global citizens, have a high BS metre, and care deeply about social causes and authenticity.
There are a number of misconceptions about this generation of trailblazers, and most of it relates to their apparent lack of civic engagement. This misunderstanding stems from the fact that over the last couple of decades there are declining levels of youth participation in electoral processes around the world. This does not mean that they are apathetic or not civically engaged.
So whether you are an educator, parent or employer, here are four things you need to know about post millennials and how they actively participate in democratic life.
They Are Change Makers
Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard of the exploits of one of the poster children of this generation, Greta Thunberg. Like Greta, this generation of technology natives is using tech to make a difference today, not tomorrow. From UK activist, Amika George whose #FreePeriods campaign secured government funding for free sanitary products in all English schools, to the Parkland teenagers who started NeverAgain.com, a student-led political action committee for gun control, whose efforts have been credited for influencing Florida legislature in 2018 on gun control. Unlike the activism of previous generations, it feels like there is a real sense of urgency, and a pessimism about the future and the world they have inherited. How are these young people able to do such incredible things? They use technology to rally their troops and spread their message. The reach of their online presence is powerful, cheap and extensive. In fact, one study found that one-fifth of 12 to 15-year-olds use social media to express support for causes by sharing or commenting on posts, and one in ten signed petitions on social media.
They Are Global Citizens
This is a generation that engages with their global peers with greater fluidity than other generations. As this generation has always been online, this is really no surprise. Global citizens are by nature politically active. They are interested in global issues, and have an interest in making the world a better place, even if they feel that greater knowledge about how to get involved and make a difference would mean they could potentially do more.
They Are Social Entrepreneurs
It’s predicted that nearly half of the post-millennials will become entrepreneurs. But it’s social entrepreneurship that has really captured their imagination. A movement driven by younger entrepreneurs, a third of start-ups today aim for social good. Social entrepreneurship creates wealth: for the entrepreneur, for the people that are employed and for the local economy. More importantly, it demonstrates empathy and a desire to engage in the communities in which they live.
They Like To Donate To Social Causes And Volunteer
Post millennials are known to be careful with money. post-millennials care about social issues. They are interested in giving money to different causes, more than millennials and baby boomers, and volunteer, more than the generation that comes before them, millennials. If this is not an indication of civic-mindedness, I’m actually not sure what is.
But Why Are They Not Voting?
Although democratic life is so much more than elections, it’s worrying that more and more young people in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe are not voting. This is worrying because they are the generation who are most affected by the decisions that are made by referendums and leader elections. A study by the London School of Economics found that young people are not bored by politics, but believe that those who ‘do’ politics are not representing or care about them.
What Does This Mean For Educators, Parents and Future Employers?
- Adults, we need to start listening. I mean really listening. These guys are telling us they are worried about their future. They’re worried that politicians care little about the issues that mean something to them. We need to support them, really supporting them by listening to and demonstrating to them that you are by supporting their schemes and causes by lobbying policymakers and those in power to make decisions that will positively affect them and the things they care about.
- Give young people opportunities to use their voice. They have lot’s to say, they have enthusiasm and drive, let’s start encouraging them to speak up. But it’s more than that. It’s helping them develop a voice that others, I mean adults will listen to. The education system has a key role here. The more opportunities we provide young people to develop key skills through active learning opportunities the better. And most importantly, this is achievable across all levels, across every subject area. As a former secondary school curriculum coordinator, this is possible. It’s just a mind shift change, and not a seismic one either.
- It’s time for us all to truly develop a partnership across the generations. It really isn’t helpful to continually label generations and point out how we are all different. Let’s focus on the things that unite and are common to us all: shared humanity, a desire to flourish and continue to survive. In order for us to work together to create a world that is sustainable we need to remember we’re all in this together, so let’s start acting like we actually are.
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.
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.
#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.