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Using technology to get children comfortable with other people and cultures

LatinaLista — Critics have long argued about the downside of today’s cyber-technology. They say that because of it we isolate ourselves from one another and forget how to interact with each other. Yet, at César Chavez Prep Charter School in Washington, D.C., teachers and administrators have embraced technology that it makes those arguments moot.

In an attempt to introduce the children at the charter school, who are socially disadvantaged, to people who live outside their community and help them get comfortable “with others,” the school’s administration has adopted an ambitious initiative that uses Skype and digital storytelling to connect with people around the globe.

Multimedia reporter Cathy Healy is part of the school’s global initiative and is helping the children in Washington connect with a group of children who live in a rural area of the Dominican Republic. Healy spoke about the project at a TEDx conference held in Santo Domingo where she shared the three ways she and DC school administrators are helping the children become global citizens:

  • Video-making – in particular, “digital storytelling,” Digital storytelling, which combines illustrated, personal narrations into short videos. Our eventual goal is to use digital stories as a way to quickly tun strangers into colleagues during Skype conversations with peers.
  • Bringing experts into the classes both in person and via Skype.
  • Partnering with another school/class in a worldwide event which includes action and Skype conversations.

Healy and her colleagues are finding that technology is helping children bridge not only the so-called digital divide but making them realize that people who live in other parts of the world aren’t really all that different from them.


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