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Get Inspired by 9 Global Education Innovations

By Cleary Vaughan-Lee — February 07, 2018 5 min read
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Editor’s Note: Recently, Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director at Global Oneness Project, traveled to Helsinki to participate in and present at HundrED’s 2017 Innovation Summit. HundrED is a Finland-based education organization, whose mission is to help schools change and evolve by seeking and sharing inspiring innovations in K-12 education globally. While there, she learned about 9 innovative education organizations.

Connect with Cleary during #Globaledchat on Thursday, February 8, 2018, at 8pmET on Twitter.

Finland is known as a global leader in education with pioneering approaches and highly successful schools. During an informative workshop at the Finnish National Agency for Education, I was given a comprehensive overview of the Finnish education system and a few pedagogical components stood out to me. They put students first and highly value the following: the strength and health of school culture, cross-curricular and collaborative learning, equity, and student and teacher voice.

The following two questions were explored in the workshop, both of which get to the heart of student learning and global education:


  • How can we lead students to reach their human potential?
  • What kind of people do we want living in the world?

Participating global educators responded to these questions by saying that students will need to be confident, multi-skilled, critical/analytical thinkers, and be appreciative of others. If we want students to become engaged global citizens, we need to support them in embodying these skills, which are essential to becoming innovative thinkers.

In her book, Bringing Innovation to School: Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World, author Suzie Boss agrees and adds that action-oriented, risk-taking, and forward-thinking students are often able to recognize problems, collaborate, and “consider unconventional solutions.” All of these skills, which get to the essence of 21st century learning, are key when addressing the future of education from a global perspective.

How can students and teachers use technological advancements in education to address local and global challenges? What are some ways these advancements can support positive student change-makers? The following 9 organizations provide some answers and solutions. Each one, part of HundrED’s “100 Global Innovations,” offers creative approaches to education while connecting students to the world.

Real World Learning
THINK Global School
Location: Global
A traveling high school, THINK Global School’s students venture to four countries for an eight-week term each school year. Students immerse themselves in the local language and culture using place and project-based learning to explore real world issues. This year, students travel to Botswana, Japan, India, and Spain.

Student Agency
Traffic Agent
Location: Norway
Traffic Agent is a student-designed app that promotes road safety to and from school. Students contribute to the app by observing their own communities. The project encourages biking and walking to school, design thinking, and problem-solving skills while creating active students and community citizens.

Deconstruct Technology for Young Learners
Hello Ruby
Location: Finland
Hello Ruby teaches computational thinking to children using art and helps students learn about algorithms in a fun and playful way. Founder Linda Liukas said, “To prepare kids for the future, it’s important to give them a robust understanding of what a computer is good at and what a human is good at.”

Encourage Conversations About Race and Diversity
Interactive Diversity
Location: U.S.A.
Looking for a way to discuss race and identity in a thoughtful way? Interactive Diversity developed (Don’t) Guess My Race, a web-based program aimed at teenagers to encourage critical thinking about race and identity. The goal is to reduce bias, stereotypes, and assumptions.

Emotional Storytelling
Global Oneness Project
Location: U.S.A.
The Global Oneness Project brings the world to the classroom with free multicultural stories—through essays, short documentary, films and photography—and accompanying lesson plans to explore cultural, social, and environmental issues through a humanistic lens. Their stories connect the local human experience to global meta-level issues, such as climate change, water scarcity, food insecurity, poverty, endangered cultures, migration, and sustainability.

Power of Play
Playground Ideas
Location: Australia
Located in Australia and used around the world, Playground Ideas empowers communities by providing free, downloadable designs to build playgrounds with local materials. The organization also provides evidence on the importance of play. In 11 years, they have supported communities in 85 mainly developing countries to build thousands of playgrounds.

Bringing Education to Children Living in Poverty
BRAC Boat Schools
Location: Bangladesh
The mission of BRAC is to “empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice.” BRAC Boat Schools brings education to disadvantaged children. Across Bangladesh and the Philippines, more than 14,500 students are enrolled in over 500 BRAC Boat Schools.

Learning to Care
Roots of Empathy
Location: U.S.A.
Roots of Empathy helps create “caring, peaceful, and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.” The program, established in eleven countries, works with local families who come into elementary classrooms with their infants to learn empathy and emotional literacy. Founder Mary Gordon said, “Babies respond intuitively to love. They are blind to the differences as defined by the world.”

Developing a Worldview
Universe Awareness
Location: Netherlands
Universe Awareness is an international project that provides high-quality, engaging, and easy-to-use astronomy resources for young learners. They’ve created an international network active in 63 countries, organize teacher-training sessions, and provide free resources.

Access the complete list of HundrED’s 100 global innovations. Saku Tuominen, creative director of HundrED, said that these innovations need to be shared with the world. “Being able to showcase these innovations,” he said, “marks the beginning of a drive to get all teachers involved in revolutionizing education.”

The best innovations in the world strive toward the betterment of humanity. After all, as expressed on the HundrED website, our children deserve it.

Connect with Cleary, Global Oneness Project, Heather, and the Center for Global Education on Twitter.

Photo by: Melanie Gordon.

Quote image created on Pablo.

The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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