Teaching Sustainable Development Goals Using Technology

February 13, 2021

In this article Nam Thanh Ngo discusses the importance of teaching sustainable development goals and how collaboration can help make the project more successful

Teaching Sustainable Development Goals Using Technology

With more than 12 years of teaching experience, my approach to teaching has changed a lot. Earlier in my career I thought providing knowledge from textbooks was my main responsibility. But I now agree with the educational rationale proposed by UNESCO: learn to know, learn to do, learn to live, and learn to assert yourself.

​To achieve this, cooperation is one of the skills that I always prioritize for my students. I have started to participate in many projects with other teachers around the globe to develop these skills for students such as: We are little volunteers, Wai Water, Human Differences (Koen is founder), Women in history on tour (Angels is founder), … and the most mentally challenging project that I’ve ever participated in… Five Safe Fingers…a child sexual abuse project. I can assert that the success of these projects was dependent on technology. Technology has really helped break the seemingly insurmountable limits of geography and language etc.

Where did the project idea come from?

In recent years, child sexual abuse has been raised as a global problem in general and in Vietnam in particular. Through discussions with teachers in many countries, I learned that children do not have the skills to protect themselves in situations where they are at risk of harm. They do not know the limits of love. This troubles me every day and in April 2017 I decided to call on teachers around the globe to work together on the Five Safe Fingers project with the desire to provide children with the skills to protect themselves from sexual abuse. In addition, the project specifically targeted the third goal and 16th goal of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. I am now fortunate to have the participation of more than 30 schools from 37 countries and more than 100 teachers have registered to become ambassadors for the project. The project was started in the hope of everyone participating.

Sustainable Development Goals - Goal 3
Sustainable Development Goals - Goal 16

From 20 students to 2500 students

At the beginning of the project, I did not think it could impact many schools around the globe. However, I was thrilled to receive e-mails from schools from all over the world – most of whom are poor and lacking in life skills. Some schools started with only a group of around 20 students, but expanded to involve their entire school communities, often involving over 2,500 students. Since then, working with this project has become an important part of my daily work.

“I feel truly great to be a part of this project and touch the lives of so many children…” Neeru Mittal, India

How has technology helped this project be more successful?

For 100 global teachers to work together, there is no shortage of technology support, especially with Microsoft tools. Technology has helped us to work together anytime, anywhere:- OneNote: This great tool helped create a unique space where participating teachers could work together anytime, anywhere. OneNote supported the storing, setting up and sharing of a variety of information using one source. We used OneNote to foster collaboration with teachers from other countries.  Some were mutually occupied, and some were designed for particular individuals. Subsequently, I assigned tasks and shared this digital notebook with everyone involved in the project. We easily tracked progress and planned our next steps. Students also had their own sessions for mutual communication, using videos, presentations and brochures.

Sample OneNote

PowerPoint, Office Mix, Sway: Students used a variety of creative tools as part of the project. Tammy’s students used Office Mix to create a Safe Tips for kids guide to prevent child sexual abuse. With the combination of sound, images, automatic run mode, this guide has become more vivid. With the advantage of ease of use, many students have used Sway – including first graders to create animated presentations with pictures and videos etc. They were able to update their work at any time and there was no need to send it back to the recipient. Teachers also used these tools to create presentations to share with other.

Minecraft: With the participation of Francisco, Brazil (Minecraft Global Mentor) Minecraft has been included in the project which has added a lot of excitement.

“I was scared when I received the invitation to be an ambassador for the Safe Fingers project, it is not an area that I dominate, but as an educator and citizen it is a duty to be able to contribute as I can.
The north of my compass was: how can technology have a real paradigm shift that helps improve children’s lives and their defense processes? Well, I came to a conclusion, technology is a factor that increases our human capacity, that makes us think, reflect and change reality.
” – Francisco, Brazil

In this project Minecraft was used as a tool for free thinking. Each country was charged with creating an image, a construction that referred to the theme. And then the others tried to understand what the others wanted to do. Therefore, Minecraft served as a simulation of solutions, dialogue and humanization.
Using this the construction was shared in OneNote where people were able to provide comments. After this moment, the participants made personal reports describing these experiences and how this generated apprehension of the message.
Such images, reports and allied services served as a metric for assessing activity and impact, providing research materials to improve the activity and use of technology in the classroom.

Using an approach like this we can create an activity that uses the skills and 21st century competencies and therefore exercises the pillars of UNESCO and the Sustainable Development Goals. At the same time we have created an innovative activity that can really push barriers and create a better future.

Skype acted as a key tool in the project allowing various connections as follows: teachers to teachers, teachers to students and students to students. Skype helped break the limits of the four walls that exist in a traditional classroom. Simply clicking on the connection icon in the project website allowed participants to be moved to the MEC site to send a Skype connection request. During the exploration knowledge, students used Skype to connect with project ambassadors who were experienced in child sexual abuse – to hear lessons, to ask questions and receive answers. After completing the products, students used Skype to connect with other classes to share what they had done in the previous weeks. Through sharing, they then had an overview of the problems related to sexual assault in many countries.

Teaching Sustainable Development Goals Using Technology - in action

 What next?

Although “5 weeks – 1 live” is used as a slogan for the project, we do not want to limit this project to just 5 weeks. This project has been posted as a lesson on the MEC site, so any teachers can access and sign up to join the project via a Skype collaboration. We hope the project will continue as long as the problem of sexual assault persists.

You can learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals here: https://sdgs.un.org/goals


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