Tag: Workshop

Taking centre stage: More than 2,000 young people participate in India’s Model UN

AAMBY VALLEY CITY, India—More than 2,000 students from around the world have crowded to this year’s Indian International Model United Nations to discuss such topics as reforms to the UN Charter, UN Security Council reforms, and international terrorism from 20-23 August.

With 30 chapters across India, the Indian International Model UN, founded and directed by 22-year-old social entrepreneur Rishabh Shah, is considered Asia’s Largest Youth Conference. India’s Model UN is an academic simulation of the way the UN works and operates in real life. In this scenario, students take on the role of diplomats and practice debating and solving global issues. The exercise not only gives young people a platform to express their ideas about pressing global issues, but is also managed and run by students under the age of 24.

What sets the conference apart from others is that the young participants from delegations from as far as Cameroon, Brazil and the Czech Republic do not just sit in the side-lines. At the end of the conference, organizers will forward any emerging draft resolutions to the UN.

“The good news is that in recent years a lot of processes are embracing and recognizing youth voices and youth participation which were not even recognized in the past,” said Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director of UNESCO MGIEP addressing the young delegates on 21 August. “But still there is a lot to do. We need to bring in the youth voices from the peripherals and bring them into the actual agenda setting process—not just in side events.”

The yearly Model UN conference is one such way to collect youth voices and ensure young people’s participation in global processes. After the talk, the young delegates discussed their views on the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals, inequality, unequal power within the Security Council and climate change agreements. Over the next few days, participants will continue to discuss the issue that matter to them the most.

“You are the fortunate ones who should cherish the responsibility your peers have bestowed upon you to represent them at this meeting,” Duraiappah said. “So a heavy burden lies on your shoulders to ensure the full representation of all their voices in this forum.”

Changing our classrooms through technology

By Aditi Pathak, Project Officer, UNESCO MGIEP Innovations Team

Learning in the 21st century cannot be limited to literacy and numeracy, but should be broadened to enable students to think, deliberate and address the socio-emotional problems they face individually and collectively. Can innovative teaching and learning practices enabled by technology bring about that change?

To explore a new way of teaching and learning and to help develop 21st century skills, UNESCO MGIEP is launching the Transformative Learning Labs Programme (TTL). TLL combines project-based, thematic, and peer-to-peer approaches to learning in which students engage in collaborative projects with their peers from other schools through a digital platform. This platform will be Web based, and will allow students to engage in dialogue and sharing.

A recent consultation was organized to introduce school teachers to the programme and get their feedback on its design. Teachers from government, government-aided, private and NGO run schools were invited at our office in New Delhi. The consultation started with an informal chat about new and emerging technologies in the field of education and how classrooms are changing today.

I formally started the consultation by introducing our Transformative Learning Labs programme, which will use cutting-edge communications technologies to connect students around the globe to exchange their views and share their ideas about important global issues. As we are piloting the programme within schools in Delhi, this was a great opportunity for us to introduce a platform called Edmodo. Edmodo is an open-license platform that connects over 33 million students and teachers across the globe to exchange ideas and work on collaborative projects.

During the consultation, we asked the teachers to create their own profiles on the platform—with staff assistance—and create their own ‘learning groups’. The real ‘fun’ for the teachers began when they were asked to give assignments to each other. It was interesting to see the teachers contributing to the discussion and answering questions. They were quick to acquire the role of a student on the platform. Once the teachers were familiar with its features, we discussed the possibility of using the platform with their students as well as the role of collaborative learning in helping students think, discuss and deliberate issues beyond the formal curriculum.

All the teachers agreed that it is important to use technology-enabled ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to make learning fun for children. The participants stressed the fact that schools for the 21st century cannot be limited by classroom walls and must become spaces that inculcate skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and cross-cultural skills. To imbibe these skills into formal teaching learning practice, we need to include innovative technologies and instructional strategies.

To learn more about the Innovations Team and its programmes, click here

What video games can teach you: UNESCO MGIEP’s first Games for Learning workshop in Malaysia

By Anamika Gupta, Programme Officer, Innovations Team

In a complex society shaped by cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, what role can video games play in building generations of responsible and competent global citizens?

This was the running theme of the discussion and brainstorming session in the neat conference hall in Cyberjaya, Kuala Lumpur’s IT hub, and the heart of Malaysia’s IT revolution. UNESCO MGIEP jointly organised the workshop on Games for Learning and Transformation together with the Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) and the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) on 28 May 2015.

The 3-member UNESCO MGIEP delegation was invited by Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Chair of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, to explore the potential of digital games as transformative learning tools and to launch the YES Peace Network in Malaysia.

More than 40 participants attended the workshop from diverse backgrounds related to games or education, including university professors, school teachers, game developers, and representatives from Ministry of Education and Ministry of Science. It was the first time that such an inter-stakeholder workshop on gaming was held in Malaysia.

“How many parents scold or discourage their children from playing videogames?” I asked at the workshop. Several hands shot up in the room: guilty as charged! The session began with a 9-year-old boy who shared how games had helped him learn. Using complex technical gaming concepts, he explained how advancing through the various levels of obstacles in his favourite game of Minecraft helped him sharpen his strategic thinking, pace himself before making a decision, and learn about life in Medieval Europe.

The participants then discussed a) learning gaps or problems in Malaysia, b) what role digital games could play in filling these gaps, and c) possible areas for collaboration between various stakeholders. Some of the themes that emerged were the low attention spans observed among students as well as possible solutions to make lessons more engaging; ways to encourage self-paced learning and nurture students’ self-esteem; and the need to use games to impart life skills such as disaster risk reduction as well as a better understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) concepts.

By the end of the workshop, participants agreed on the need for collaboration among all stakeholders and for industries to actively participate and cater to the demands for active learning in Malaysia. The programme concluded with the idea of forming the MIGHT Interest Group to take the discussion forward and to create a road map for integrating well-designed, indigenous games for learning into mainstream education in Malaysia.

Prof. Anantha Duraiappah, director of UNESCO MGIEP, discusses some of the main outcomes of the workshop.
Prof. Anantha Duraiappah, director of UNESCO MGIEP, discusses some of the main outcomes of the workshop.

48 hours at Carnegie Mellon’s #NowIGetItJam:designing a game to measure inclusive wealth

By Geetika Dang, Programme Analyst, UNESCO MGIEP Innovations Team

I recently visited Pittsburgh to participate in my first ever game jam, as a representative of UNESCO MGIEP. For those of you who don’t know how a game jam works, it’s a meetup of developers and subject experts to conceive and create a game within a limited span of time (anywhere between 24 and 72 hours). My trip to Pittsburgh bought with it much excitement because I did not just have to help develop a prototype game, but I also had to help create a moment of insight – a “Now I get it!” moment. It was a very well organised event with participants divided into different teams. Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Centre hosted this game jam (May 1-3) and aptly named it the “Now I Get It Jam”.

The jam hosted seven challenges — concepts that are hard for learners and outsiders to truly understand because they are either intellectually challenging or abstract or sometimes difficult to relate to — as part of a series of social issues that the organisers felt needed to be addressed with urgency. I represented challenge #3 “The inclusive wealth Report (IWR)” — a landmark report which looks beyond the traditional economic and development yardsticks of GDP to include a full range of assets such as manufactured, human and natural capital. I was more excited about the fact that the IWR was one of the very first challenges to be selected and Carnegie Mellon itself had reached out to UNESCO MGIEP after seeing the call for proposals for the IWR digital simulation game. [For those of you who are not aware of it, UNESCO MGIEP intends to develop a game that will help undergraduate students better understand the concept of sustainability discussed in the Inclusive Wealth Report. Our call for proposals is open till June 15, 2015.]

The idea of the jam was to put together a dynamic team of game developers, designers, educators and domain experts and let the creative chaos take over. This opened me up to a number of new perspectives — I found myself in a situation where semantics overpowered theory. As an economist, to me, words like wellbeing and sustainability had very different definitions as compared to the connotations the rest of my team-mates had. To overcome this complicated situation, the first half of Day One was dedicated to “understanding the problem at hand” and steering clear of “rabbit holes”. We brainstormed on different aspects, such as the target audience, the scope of the game and the possible game designs, etc. I was surprised as to how quickly and seamlessly all team members assumed roles that best fit their skillset and got to work!

Within 48 hours, we went from having no game to having a paper game, to finally having a functioning digital game. We debated on questions like — how do we represent happiness in a game built around an economics model? How do we embed learning outcomes: by letting the player lose or by giving hints to ensure the player wins? My experience made me cherish not only the outcome but also the process that went into it. On the following Sunday, all teams presented their games to a huge audience of students, educators, parents and play testers. We also did present a prototype, which was not exactly perfect, but very close to what we wanted to achieve. The team is still working on it to make it perfect. What an amazing-trying-and-rewarding rollercoaster!

To apply to the IWR Simulation Game Challenge click here

Try out the prototype from the Carnegie Mellon game jam here

A prototype of the Inclusive Wealth Report simulation game developed during the jam at Carnegie Mellon University
A prototype of the Inclusive Wealth Report simulation game developed during the #NowIGetItJam at Carnegie Mellon University