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Out of Eden Learn is an online learning platform that since 2013 has been bringing together school-age students from around the world to engage in meaningful journeys of intercultural inquiry and exchange. On OOEL, students engage in meaningful learning experiences offline, then share their work on the OOEL platform where they have the opportunity to make authentic connections with their online peers. The following tips and resources are intended to support educators and caregivers who may be new to this learning format.
Introduce one’s online self: One of Out of Eden Learn’s (OOEL) introductory activities invites students to share their hobbies/interests and to choose how they want to represent themselves in the online learning community by picking an image for their avatar. To begin establishing your online community, you might have students choose or create their own “avatar,” either digitally or in analog. Maybe they create a self-portrait drawing or 3D collage. They can post their creations to the online community and write a few lines about how whatever they made represents them. Even if your students seem to know each other well already, this kind of activity encourages claiming one’s space as a member of an online community, as well as offers students the opportunity to express and share more about themselves.
Create and maintain a safe online learning community: Community Guidelines help to maintain a safe and respectful online community for participating learners. It is helpful to set up guidelines and reference them often. Further suggested practices for supporting respectful dialogue and building community can be found here on our website.
Encourage active and respectful dialogue: OOEL’s Dialogue Toolkit is a set of commenting tools that support students to engage in thoughtful online—and in-person—dialogue. You can encourage students to make these different moves when they comment on one another's work, engage in dialogue, and respond to readings and other resources. OOEL also offers a set of suggested practices for supporting thoughtful cross-cultural inquiry and exchange.
Invite family members and caregivers into learning: When possible, build interaction and engagement with family members into activities and assignments. For inspiration, explore OOEL’s two short curricula—Looking Closely at Objects with Other Generations and Creating and Sharing Neighborhood Maps, or individual activities—Learning from Other Generations and Listening to Neighbors’ Stories, which are all specifically designed to invite family, neighbors, and/or caregivers into the activities and support at-home learning.
Leverage the power of multimedia resources: Assign multimedia resources including articles, audio clips, videos, songs, photo essays, maps, interactive timelines and other kinds of dynamic stories. Use interactive online resources in ways you might not be encouraged or inclined to in-person.
Welcome creative work: When possible, invite students to sketch, photograph, map, diagram, film, and/or record an audio clip to complete an assignment. Be flexible with how students demonstrate their learning and understanding. Students can write a short text reflection to accompany whatever they create, then photograph and post their work. If the piece is digital, they can simply upload it. Below is a suggested list of applications that students can use to create their work.
Pixotale: combine photos, videos, and text to create a story
SoundCloud: upload and listen to audio tracks
StoryCorps App: record and share audio
TimelineJS: create an interactive timeline
Try some OOEL activities: Educators and parents/caregivers can download PDFs of any of our curricula and do the activities offline at any time. OOEL’s two shorter curricula (two activities each) are: Looking Closely at Objects with Other Generations and Creating and Sharing Neighborhood Maps. The other four curricula (four-six activities) are: The Present and the Local; The Past and the Global; Stories of Human Migration; and Introduction to Planetary Health.
For those not interested in following a full curriculum, many of OOEL’s activities are available as individual learning experiences under the “Activities for All” tab on our website: Connecting Everyday Objects to Bigger Systems, Connecting Our Own Lives to the Past, Creating Neighborhood Maps, Documenting the Everyday, Everyday Borders, Learning from Other Generations, Listening to Neighbors' Stories. We invite educators and parents/caregivers to share student work that is completed offline, outside of the OOEL platform. Use #EdenLearn so that we can find and share your posts!
Join OOEL’s online learning community: OOEL currently offers six different online “learning journeys,” lasting between 4-12 weeks, designed around three broad learning goals, inviting students to:
1. slow down to observe the world carefully and listen attentively to others
2. exchange stories and perspectives with one another; and
3. make connections between their own lives and bigger human stories.
Educators or parents/caregivers can sign up students to participate in a learning journey online and be connected to students in different parts of the world. Simply go to the platform, choose the "educators register" button, and fill out and submit the form. Detailed instructions on how to sign up can be found on our How it Works page and in our Educator Guide.