George Lucas Educational Foundation

Learning World Affairs Through Digital Media

Global Kids uses media and technology to foster civic participation and global awareness. In its Online Leadership Program, students make games, create animated movies, and produce videos that explore global issues.
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Narrator: Whether they are meeting with foreign ambassadors.

Student: Did that sort of brutality affect any of your personal relationships?

Narrator: Or creating international forums in Second Life, members of Global Kids are plugged in to the world.

Carole Argtigiani: I was meeting young people and asking them if they would like to learn about world affairs. And they said "Oh yes, please. You know we never get this in school. We'd like to know about the cultures of the people in our classrooms and no one is ever really giving us the opportunity to do that."

Student: You know because getting some education, telling us about the world and stuff-

Narrator: Created in 1989, Global Kids conducts a variety of in-school and after-school programs at several locations around New York City. Activities include the arts.

Student: Somebody pass me a blue marker.

Narrator: Digital media.

Computer program: Return to school after a week but don't bother coming back if you don't have the tuition fees.

Narrator: And leadership classes that promote civic participation and global awareness.

Teacher: Can you think of one global issue like a human rights or social justice issue and write it on your Post-It.

Narrator: In the Online Leadership program students learn to use new media forms like gaming and virtual environments to explore a larger world.

Barry Joseph: We actually have a class where the youth go into Second Life, it's a virtual world, and learn about global sustainability issues, and then demonstrate what they know within that same space. We still have a teacher here in Brooklyn, but we also have a teacher in Scotland who being there in Second Life co-teaches the class. And in that space for example, youth aren't just using a virtual world. They're using a virtual world as part of the larger Internet ecology.

Student: Currently I'm working on trying to put the scenes together-

Narrator: The virtual video class also takes place in Teen Second Life.

Computer program: Did you get a book?

Computer program: Oh only the Chinese students get those for free.

Tabitha Tsai: Now the exciting part about their filmmaking is they're not using real-life cameras. They're using everything virtual. So they're using Second Life which is a virtual community as a platform. They're learning to work with each other on coming up with a storyboard, everything from the preproduction all the way to post-production, all the little steps in making a film.

Student: [Inaudible] was basically the classroom.

Tabitha Tsai: Okay.

The first semester they're working on improving their digital media delivery skills, and then in their second half then they talk about what's the global issue they want to raise awareness on.

Student: And then after he notices so many injustices going on in China he decides to leave with his mother through the Himalayan Mountains and into India.

Barry Joseph: One of the exciting things about using digital media as a form of youth media is that not only are the tools fascinating to work with for young people. They're very engaged around it and they can learn important skills, but it means that their potential audience is so much bigger. I mean the game that we released three years ago, The Cost of Life has been played in the past year and one-half about over one and one-half million times. To have youth know that their work can be heard by that many people can make a difference, and if that many people can just enjoy what they've done is a tremendously powerful experience to move from being a consumer to being a critical creator. And when you become a critical creator you then view yourself as a leader, one who can make a difference in the world.

Student: We also visited the U.N.

Carole Argtigiani: If young people have the opportunity to learn about things they care about they will be more motivated to read books. They'll be more motivated to take action on things they care about, and they will see themselves as players on the world stage and they'll understand that in order to do that, they'll have to work harder in school. So my approach to dropout prevention was to turn young people on to things that they really cared about. And it actually has worked.

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Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Coordinating Producer

  • Lauren Rosenfeld


  • Karen Sutherland

Camera Crew

  • Orlando Video Productions

Production Support

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Production Assistant

  • Doug Keely


  • Kris Welch

Original Music

  • Ed Bogas

Additional Footage Courtesy of

  • Global Kids


Teen Second Life: An Internet-based three-dimensional virtual world where people ages 13-17 can meet, create, and socialize using voice and text chat.

Digital-media literacy: The process of accessing, analyzing, evaluating, and creating messages in a wide variety of digital media.



Discussion Questions

1. What do you think of the Global Kids program? What would it take to start a similar program in your community?

2. Do you think most high school students are interested in world affairs? Does the focus on digital media help keep students interested in this complex topic? Or is it a distraction?

3. What sort of skills are kids gaining through their projects in the Virtual Video class?

4. How important is it for teens to have a global audience to showcase their work?

>5. Do you agree that involvement in programs like Global Kids leads to success in school? Why, or why not?




Comments (1) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Michel-Ange Chevry-Renaud's picture

I've enjoyed watching this video. For years, one of my major concerns has been the lack of global knowledge in many cities across the United States. This documentary puts my mind at ease. I'm very pleased to learn highschoolers are learning and want to learn about countries besides theirs. Thank you.

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