A tool to teach empathy, clothed in an app costume

There is a need for teaching empathy

We imagine a future in which our globe’s children work together to find sustainable solutions to the tragic problems of poverty and inequality that have plagued us for too long. The best way to create this future is to make it a discussion that children can be a part of BEFORE they learn to think in terms of “us” and “them.” We are not the only ones who find this important. The Forbes article Is there a market for Empathy states that “parents want their children to learn to regulate their emotions, to understand how others feel, to persevere through challenges, to build healthy relationships and to make good decisions”. However, parents and educators might believe they focus on character education and empathy, our children report hearing a very different message. We know that apps can speed up academic learning, now it is time to put new technology to work to teach social emotional intelligence. Empathy!

Our technological innovation stands out from previous solutions

The resources available for global and multicultural education are extensive. Yet most of books, apps, etc. that address these subjects do not connect with children in an intimate and emotional way. Many rely on generalities, focus on country knowledge, or provide little story depth (readers meet one child per page). To solve our global problems, we need youth who can, want to, and will interact across national, religious, cultural and socio-eonomic divides, now and far into the future. This requires a new approach.

  • Beyond TV and video: By using photo’s and let kids decide when to move on to the next page, there will be time to wonder, observe, discuss and ask questions.
  • Beyond graphics: We travel the globe, working with real children and their families to create stories that are unique, real and personal. Each story contains over 100 full color images. And being fully narrated by children in different languages makes it even more of an experience.
  • Beyond books and videos: In an app we can share more than the story. Users can record themselves speaking a new language and drawing comparisons between their lives and that of their new friend in the story.
  • Beyond flags, geography and country facts: there are many great apps out here that teach these things in a fun and challenging way, but global awareness is so much more. To really understand peoples lives in other situations a tool need something for the brain but more so something that touches the heart.
  • Beyond Social Media: We often get the question why we don’t facilitate real conversations between the children, like we “used to do with Penpals”. Social Media is a big world and we focus on making it both and safe for young children to “travel on their own”.

Based on findings from social psychology’s intergroup contact theory refined over the last 50 years, our apps are strategically designed to make interacting with people from a different “group” something kids feel they are able and want to do. This is the foundation for a new generation of problem solvers.

Our global marketplace: beyond videos, books, apps, toys, games

We won’t stop here. The first idea was to publish a series of physical books. However, our first products were two ebooks in 2010. In 2012 we added languages and interactive activities. Last year, we launched Globe Smart Education with all kinds of fun stuff to do in the classroom: arts & crafts, physical games,  reading & writing assignments and STEM experiments.

This is just the beginning. In the future we will add more physical toys that stimulate global imaginary play and that help make friends, both close and far from home. We hope to share our products all over the world and reach children in everywhere. The global expansion of internet access and tablet use will help us to do so.

Less a technological innovation than a social one, One Globe Kids collaborates with children around the globe to create a product that offers an important paradigm shift – the assumption that others are “just like me.” At first sight, some might see only apps for privileged kids to use on their tablet. Look closer, and you will see the potential to teach empathy and encourage global play everywhere. Our tools are designed to give children lasting, positive and empathetic impressions about each other, from central Africa to North America to south Asia, to paving the way for successful interaction and problem-solving based on a belief that we’re all equal and should be treated as such.

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About sz

Beside being on the OGK Team, Sanny currently works freelance, partnering in Europe with creative strategy firm BeBright, as a moderator, researcher and writer to help individuals and organizations to prepare for what’s next.