In celebration of International Education Week (IEW), we are highlighting the work of educator Eckardt Kreye who uses MY World 360˚ to facilitate collaborative international exchanges between his students in Germany and students in Kenya.
“Sustainable development is necessary to survive on this planet. In Germany, many young people demand more sustainability. In fact, many of them are much further than we are as adults. They can show us what to do and what to change.” – Eckardt Kreye, Educator, Bremen, Germany
Gender equality, good health and well-being, reducing inequalities, and climate action: These are just a few of the Sustainable Development Goals that young people in Bremen, Germany have addressed in their MY World 360˚ films. Since MY World 360˚ launched in 2018 at the Global Festival of Action in Bonn, Germany, media educator Eckardt Kreye has been introducing German educators and youth to the world of immersive storytelling and design to share their perspectives and inspire action on issues they care about.
In his role at the Makemedia Studios of the State Institute for Schools (LIS), Kreye provides hands-on media workshops for educators interested in combining immersive media and the global Sustainable Development Goals to create powerful learning experiences. “This [MY World 360˚] was a way to introduce teachers to the SDGs. It was really a gift for the institute. Now we have an attractive way to incorporate sustainable education. We trained the teachers then they worked with their students. Then, both teachers and students come to our training center and students learned how to shoot a 360° video. After shooting they came a second time in the training center and we supported them in editing,” said Kreye.
Alongside his work at Makemedia Studios and as a media and mathematics teacher at Gesamtschule Bremen-Mitte, Kreye also leads Partner Across Borders, an organization that fosters connections between youth in Bremen and peers in cities in Africa. Before each exchange starts, students choose a sustainable development topic and learn about it together with their international partners. Then, during their in-person exchange, they continue their work using creative methods such as traditional and 360° films, theater, photography, and music. In their most recent exchange with Kenyan NGO Mathare Youth Film Festival, students identified photography and filming as the mediums they wanted to use, ultimately hosting a festival and talk show to showcase their collaborative films, photos, and music videos.
In an earlier exchange in 2018, Kenyan students joined their counterparts in Bremen, Germany to co-produce a MY World 360˚ video on Sustainable Development Goal #10: reduced inequalities.
A strong believer in intercultural communication and collaboration, Kreye considers these exchange projects to be the most meaningful he has ever done. “I became a teacher because I wanted to change the world,” Kreye says. “With the help of these encounters, I can offer young people a change of perspective. Many of them have already done great things because of changing their perspective and because of their experiences.”
Integrating collaborative media making—especially emerging media like 360˚ and virtual reality (VR)—with international exchange may sound daunting, but Kreye offers some key elements that any educator can use to make these learning experiences successful:
Learn about the country and community of your partners
Each community is different and interesting in unique ways. Learning about what makes your exchange partner’s community special will enrich your experience of the exchange and enable you to understand and ask more informed questions as your exchange activities get underway. At the start, this country and community may be new and different to your students, but as personal connections form, there is an energy that comes from the excitement and joy of getting to know someone from a completely different country. This enthusiasm can drive powerful learning opportunities in the classroom and beyond.
Recognize and celebrate language diversity
Your exchange partners may converse with you in a language that is a second or third language for them. Recognize and appreciate this aspect of their participation. Find out what their primary language is and learn at least a few words of that language.
Use accessible communication tools
At the start of your exchange, keep the technical effort low and focus on expression through writing letters, whether by post or email. Be mindful that not everyone has easy internet access or a smartphone. Clarify what tools will be used for communication ahead of time so that everyone can fully participate. If tools like instant messaging or video/file transfers are possible, arrange logistics in a way that does not result in an undue burden or cost to senders or recipients.
Keep an open mind
The contact between people from very different regions of the world requires a change of perspective. What could be of interest to my new friend? What does she or he possibly not know? What could be misunderstood or not understood at all? I encourage my students to think about these questions and share photos that represent themselves and their surroundings. As students share photos, ask them to be mindful not to reinforce false ideas about the global north and south. Encourage students to have respectful and honest conversations about their perception of the images they send and receive.
Incorporate storytelling into your international exchange
Exchanges provide a great motivation and opportunity for students to learn new technical and storytelling skills. For teachers who don’t have technical or filmmaking skills, there are numerous tutorials available in different languages. 360˚ media can be a great format for immersing people into places and points of view and a way to share perspectives and learn new tools together. Regardless of what you decide to create, be mindful to choose tools that will be accessible to everyone participating in the exchange.
November 18-22 marks the 20th anniversary of International Education Week (IEW), an annual celebration of international education and exchange worldwide. Celebrate with us by becoming a MY World 360˚ creator and joining a growing global network of educators and young people using immersive storytelling to inspire positive action.