One of the key ingredients of a well-rounded education is a sense of communal spirit; the ability to care about others with empathy for those who live in different circumstances and with less opportunities. The Internet is already a powerful platform that enables students and young people to connect with each other across geographic divides, and it can be a powerful way to connect with people across socio-economic divides too.
School-based social responsibility programs can be enhanced using a wonderful variety of tech applications and websites. Technology brings a whole new dimension to the act of giving and caring, and creates in many respects, a personal and direct connection with what is happening in the world, enlivening the concept that no act of kindness is ever too small.
Tech that teaches to give back: 5 tools for teachers
Let’s explore a short collection of fun and effective apps and websites that teachers can use to start simple social responsibility programs in class.
Kiva is a micro-loan platform that links interested funders with actual people across the globe. Entrepreneurs and social welfare organizations place their projects, proposals and businesses on the site, and users can browse by country, region or area of interest.
For students it is interesting to read about the various people and projects. I myself have invested a few dollars in a small dairy farm in Kenya, as well as brick factory in Uganda. The great thing is that the money given is a loan, and applicants then pay back the loan into your Kiva account, from where you can again lend it to someone else.
This fund-raising website is designed for teachers to post specific needs they have in order to improve their teaching environment. The aim is to improve education across the US on a granular level, one classroom at a time.
Not only is a great place to post your funding ideals, but it is also a wonderful way for one class to perhaps “adopt” a class in another part of the country. You could even consider creating an ongoing project between the two classes, via the platform, working together to achieve their goals, and in the process complete a meaningful inter-school dialog.
With over 3 million photos so far donated, and 157 charities assisted, Donate a Photo is a simple and effective way to get your class involved in giving. This is a really children friendly app, and is fun and sustainable.
Simply, Johnson & Johnson encourage everyone to donate a photo (of themselves, their pets, their friends) once a day. For every photo submitted Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to a cause of your choice.
This could be a really fun way to teach youngsters about taking photos, about privacy issues (why not work through the Terms on the website with your class), as well as about the various causes involved.
Funded and owned by the United Nations World Food Program, this nifty general knowledge quiz site simply donates grains of rice for every right answer, and is perfect for elementary school classrooms.
It’s possible to register as a group, so your class can spend some time every week sharpening their general knowledge, and doing some good at the same time. Why not challenge another class in your school to see who can donate the most rice after a month?
This is an elegant and simple app, developed by Google, that sends one project a day to your mobile device. Each project is detailed and described, and range from literacy projects in African schools, to tech that assists Autistic children to assisting cancer patients with free rides to treatment.
It’s a wonderful way to give your students a quick look into what’s happening in other parts of their world. Donations can also be made, and Google suggest a simple $1 p/day donation to projects that appeal to you. As a class your students could discuss the various projects and commit to donating once a week to the project they feel the most worthy.
Fostering a sense of social responsibility among students has wide ranging positive impacts, and some schools choose to incorporate the practice into a school-wide doctrine of peace and fellowship that can have dramatic impacts on graduation rates, parent participation and conflict resolution. A fascinating case study is the Parkway High School for Peace and Social Justice in Philadelphia which has adopted social responsibility as their driving theme, the results are inspiring and impressive.
I’d love to hear about how you are using technology to teach your students social responsibility in the comments below.