A free classroom tool connects students around the world through empathy building activities.
Classroom tools are increasingly being enhanced using technology to create improved learning environments and experiences. A German based non-profit makes online courses available to refugees, helping them earn university degrees. An app from the US lets students create digital portfolios of their work. A new learning tool from the US, Empatico, focuses on building empathy in students.
Launched by The KIND Foundation, Empatico is a free online tool that connects classrooms across the globe. Using video conferencing technology, the tool offers a cultural exchange experience to students as they interact with classrooms in different countries. During the video conferences, activities on subjects such as literacy, science and social studies are held. These include topics such as communities, weather and the ways children play, exploring and exchanging the similarities and differences of students around the world. Activities are executed in three stages. Firstly, the students prepare by completing exercises within their own classroom on the topic they will be discussing. They then spend 20-40 minutes in a live interaction with their partner classroom. Lastly, the classroom reflects on the interaction.
Empatico intends to teach empathy to children with global interactions that widen their perspective of the world beyond their own community. It is aimed at students between the ages of 7 and 11 because research shows that this is when children are most strongly influenced by their experiences. To join in, classrooms are required to have an internet connection, webcam and at least one computer. A match between two classrooms is made after teachers select a minimum of two activities that they want to participate in. If two teachers have selected the same activity and are available at the same time, they are matched. Matches between classrooms occur only if the students in each classroom have an age difference of two years or less.
Over 600 classrooms across more than 50 countries are currently registered on Empatico. The company has set a target to have 1 million students participating in Empatico’s activities by 2020. How else can learning tools diversify children’s perspectives?