12759 EF: Virtual Exchange Program: Connecting Under-Represented Youth
Organizers: Janeen Lee, Heather Harkess, Fahad Ahmed
Virtual exchange programs are tapping into advances in new media technologies to connect youth across borders, fostering the skills and capacities they need to succeed, and lessening the potential for global misunderstanding. Virtual exchange programs also equip a new generation of youth with key skills to effectively address 21st century opportunities and challenges of an increasingly inter-connected world: the ability to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, to think critically, to collaborate in teams to solve complex problems, and to work effectively with technology as it continues to change. Key to taking this impact to scale is the collaboration across countries and sectors. In the summer of 2014, DePaul University’s Digital Youth Network (DYN) partnered with Soliya and Search for Common Ground (SFCG) to bring twenty youth from Morocco (representing multiple cities around the country) and Chicago together for a five-week cross cultural virtual exchange program titled Digital Exchange Society. Using synchronous and asynchronous platforms, participants engaged in a weekly, three-hour long virtual exchange using Soliya’s curriculum, facilitation model and platform and also interacted with one another through the creation of various digital artifacts and reflections shared via the iRemix platform. Participants in this panel will learn how virtual exchange experiences can facilitate compelling learning experiences for youth and how the Digital Exchange Society utilized new media technologies to link young people across cultures in sustained and meaningful ways.