Search form

Brenda's Blog



Using Technology as a Humanitarian Tool

A comprehensive mission for schools is to educate students to be knowledgeable, responsible, socially skilled, healthy, caring and contributing citizens."
~ Greenberg et al. (2003)*

I like to keep up with Wesley Fryer's blog Moving at the Speed of Creativity. Not only does Wesley help keep me abreast of the meaningful use of emerging technologies, he makes me think beyond my own thoughts. Here is he is again, making me think. I invite you to come along....

Wesley writes:
"Many people continue to champion the phrase the world is flat, yet what does this concept and the reality of direct connectivity to millions of other human beings around our planet mean for us and the students in our classrooms each day? I believe one of the things our digital connectedness SHOULD mean is that we are meaningfully tied together to better understand, support, and act with others across our towns and cities, as well as across our planet..."

Wesley has broached an idea that often gets lost in the rush of the digital world -- the part of digital connectives that invites us to use this amazing tool for humanitarian purposes. That consideration might be new for some. How can a tool that connects us together for learning, business, and communication purposes also become a tool that builds an inclusive society that promotes justice, harmony, and equal opportunities for people everywhere?

Over the past year, I have been collecting evidence of educators and social activists doing just that. Storing those sites in my account, I have a collection of classroom projects, resources, and social justice organizations that will help us develop students who are responsible, socially skilled, healthy, caring and contributing citizens."

As you return to your classrooms this month, the sites below will introduce you to ways of using technology as a humanitarian tool for guiding your students to reach out to others and make a difference in their world.


In Their Words: Many Voices for Darfur
This global collaborative project harnessed what the Web does best -- spreading awareness. Learn how teachers Wendy Drexler and Glenn Moses created a project that captured their students voices and hearts concerning the genocide in Darfur.

Technology on Boats?
This site tells about Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangsthas dream of using a fleet of flat-bottomed boats (all made with locally available materials) to transport educational services, books, and Internet connectivity to remote rural villages in Bangladesh. The best part is that he succeeded! Dont miss the video.

Kiva: Loans That Change Lives
The Kiva site houses a small idea that has had huge consequences for people in the developing world. Here, an individual can contribute a small amount of money that then is loaned directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

Pennies for Peace
This site introduces children to a world beyond their experience and shows them that they can make a positive impact on a global scale, one penny at a time."

Kids for Kenya
Inspired by the Kenya Education Fund and 5th grade teacher Jodie Ruggiano, this project invites students to explore the question, Why can't every child go to school?" and sends out a call to action that will ensure justice and opportunity for the children of Kenya.

Stories for Change
This Web portal demonstrates how digital storytelling is being used as a medium for social change.

Educating the Heart as Well as the Mind:
Social and Emotional Learning for School and Life Success

Sometimes called the missing piece," social and emotional learning is essential for students to become responsible, caring, and contributing citizens.

Unicefs Photos of the Year
Use these thought-provoking images to spearhead meaningful conversations and projects with your students.


What You Do With What Youve Got
In this TED video clip, singer/songwriter Eddi Reader performs "What You Do With What You've Got," a meditative song that considers how to use your gifts and talents to make a difference.

World on Fire
A call for action -- a video version of Sarah McLachlans well-known song.

Seva Caf: Love All, Serve All
The story of this Pay it Forward" restaurant introduces viewers to the selfless giving of oneself for the betterment of others and the world around us."

* M.T. Greenberg, R.P. Weissberg, M. Utne OBrien, J.E., Zins, J. E., L. Fredericks, H. Resnik, H. et al. Enhancing School-based Prevention and Youth Development Through Coordinated Social, Emotional, and Academic-Learning, American Psychologist 58 (2003): 466.

About the Author

Brenda Dyck is a sessional instructor at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). In addition to teaching preservice teachers, Brenda is the moderator of MiddleTalk, a listserve sponsored by the National Middle School Association (NMSA). Her "HotLinks" column is a regular feature in NMSA's magazine, Middle Ground. Brenda also is a teacher-editor for MidLink magazine.

Author: Brenda Dyck
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Updated 01/07/2010