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Online Learning Ambassadors Embrace Global Learning

Oba Ambassador students from Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Ariz., run a technology workshop for classmates and teachers.
Oba Ambassador students from Shadow Mountain High School in Phoenix, Ariz., run a technology workshop for classmates and teachers.

Introducing new technology into schools can be difficult, due to time constraints and a lack of resources. But your school can find a new way to help teachers integrate technology into the classroom.

A new partnership between Generation YES, a nonprofit organization that seeks to empower students to use modern technology in schools, and Oba, a cloud-based learning platform that encourages global collaboration, is allowing students to do just that.

Through Generation YES’ interactive, project-based curriculum, students from grades 4 through 12 can become “Oba Ambassadors” and learn how to mentor peers and assist teachers in blending online learning into all classes with an education platform called ObaWorld. ObaWorld provides a secure environment for students to create and showcase projects, and collaborate with their peers worldwide through the internet. Oba and Generation YES member schools will have access to ObaWorld and the Oba Ambassador training at no cost for up to 30 users per school. In most schools, these students will be members of a media literacy class or club.

For example, a class in the United States and a class in China could collaborate on a cross-cultural project to research a global issue, like water usage, and how it impacts their own area, and share their results. “There are so many issues happening around the world that you may be able to read about in the news, but to really be able to connect with someone from that environment and learn about their experiences on a personal level is a value for students and adults alike,” says Ruth Huang, the bilingual program coordinator of global and online education at the University of Oregon, where Oba was developed.

The Generation YES curriculum uses online tools to train these student technology leaders to lead and support new technology efforts in their schools. The program is expected to reach about 25,000 students within the next year, according to Dane Ramshaw, an Oba chief technology officer.

“New technology is extremely exciting, and there are so many opportunities with blended and online learning,” says Sylvia Martinez, president of Generation YES. The key is not just buying technology such as tablets, but ensuring that teachers and students actually use them, she adds. “The on-the-ground support has to be in place, and there’s never enough, so why not include students in helping your school strive for the future? Don’t ignore this tremendous resource that is tech savvy, excited, and wants to help.”

This program will give students increased responsibility in their education, and provide extra support for teachers transitioning to online learning. “A teacher doesn’t have to wait for professional development or another busy adult in the school,” says Martinez. “They can go to a student, and learn how it works, set up a class online, and have that student do a mini lecture on it.”

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