How 300 Students are Creating Change in Their Communities...Starting Online

It’s no secret that today’s educators are challenged to combine technology, authentic assessment, and student-driven learning to create more meaningful experiences in the classroom and beyond.

We all want this, but the question is how to achieve it.

We begin to meet these challenges when we design full circle learning experiences where students build habits of application, design solutions for real audiences, test ideas, and reflect in networked learning environments. This semester, Global Online Academy teachers are tackling this challenge by creatively designing end of course projects that target these very outcomes and prepare students to present their applied learning on a global stage.

On April 27, 2017 students, teachers, and the general public will collide in a three-day conversation around authentic learning, local advocacy, and student-driven change. The event sparking this exchange of ideas is GOA’s second annual Catalyst Conference. This year, over 300 students, from 60+ schools around the globe, representing more than a dozen different classes, will come together asynchronously on one interdisciplinary website. The virtual conference is free, open to the public, and students and visitors will participate at their convenience over the course of the three-day event.

Whether students are taking Game Theory or Abnormal Psychology, Music Theory & Digital Composition or iOS App Design, taking another GOA course or participating through an on-campus course, all have been challenged to find the connection between what they’re learning in their course and how it can be used it in their real lives to change their communities for the better.

Every student participating has created a webpage presentation that will be unveiled at the start of the conference. Their charge is to present responses, solutions, and proposals to the question:

How might you apply concepts learned in your course to spark a real-world change in a community you’re connected to personally?

From April 27-30, conference visitors will explore presentations, connect with students, vote for their favorite projects, and share the message of advocacy by responding to a presentation’s “call to action.” Some presentations will ask visitors to leave feedback or a comment, share a student-created PSA on social media, vote, tweet, take a poll, and more.  Every presentation will feature an interactive component that serves the goals of raising awareness and, in some cases, furthering the change the project seeks to effect.

This post is the first installation in a three part series exploring the facets of and reflections on GOA’s Catalyst Conference | | April 27-30 | #GOAndChangeIt.

Stay tuned for the remaining two Catalyst Conference blog installations which will share perspectives from students and teachers, reflections from the event, and ways that teachers can design advocacy projects for their own classrooms.

Global Online Academy (GOA) offers high quality online, blended and in person teaching and learning experiences for students and educators. Follow us on Twitter @GOALearning. To stay up to date on GOA opportunities, sign up for our newsletter here.

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