Share stories, explore a new place, and build relationships
Dragons Virtual Experiences offer facilitated cohort learning through a combination of online programming, small group work, independent activities, and carefully curated engagement with communities abroad.
They remain true to Dragons Core Curriculum, employing a series of program components through an intentional three-phase progression towards our core learning objectives: Global Engagement, Awareness of Self, Leadership (GAL).
For school partners, Dragons Virtual Experiences are designed collaboratively by working together to guide a student cohort through an experiential arc that can be expanded or contracted according to the school’s needs and schedule.
This month my students are researching and creating a social media project to raise awareness about the
work that NGOs in Jordan are doing in regards to Global Warming, Syrian Refugees, and Palestinian
Refugees. – Josh Emmott, Milton Academy
FIVE PROGRAM COMPONENTS
SENSE OF PLACE
“Places” are much more than simple sets of geographical coordinates. Through intentional observation, movement, and engagement with their own environment, students explore the many elements that turn a location into somewhere unique and meaningful. Students learn tools that will help them engage deeply with any environment, whether at home, virtually, or physically abroad.
PERSONAL CROSS-CULTURAL CONNECTION
Every individual has a unique lived experience of their home culture. Meaningful one-on-one connections bring specificity and closeness to students’ understandings of what culture means for different people and for themselves. To the extent possible, Dragons virtual experiences strive to create opportunities for these personalized connections between individuals from different contexts, accompanied by guided reflection about how each individual is embedded in a larger context.
The desire to do good in the world is a wonderful motivator, but positive intentions do not guarantee positive impact. Learning Service presents a way of thinking about service work in any context. By emphasizing “learning,” students are encouraged to critically engage with their values while they develop a knowledge-base that extends beyond short-lived engagement. Dragons Virtual Experiences introduce students to critical discussions about development and to the Learning Service framework as a guiding tool for engagement at home and abroad.
Dragons Virtual Experiences are built around academic themes that allow students to delve into specific lines of questioning and/or a specific geographic focus. For example, a program might explore the impacts of climate change, a religious tradition, or the realities of cultural extinction. We explore the Course Themes by hosting guest speakers, reading local news, and engaging in group discussions.
INDEPENDENT STUDY PROJECTS (ISP)
Independent Study Projects allow students the freedom and autonomy to explore an aspect of the Course Themes or geographic region that most interests them, under the guidance of experts from Dragons broad community. ISPs allow Virtual Experience participants to engage in creative, self-directed discovery and to share their interests and learning with one another.
ORIENTATION AND CONTAINER BUILDING
- Establishing collective and individual purpose—Why are we engaged in this online experience, and what do I want to get out of it?
- Fostering interpersonal relationships—Who am I? Who are you?
- Forming the group container—How will I engage with other members of the group? How will we engage as a collective?
Example activities: Group icebreakers, team building exercises, individual self-reflection, group contracts, feedback styles
SKILL-BUILDING AND PRACTICING
- Establishing context for course themes—What background information do I need to engage well with this topic? How does it relate to other things I know about?
- Gaining awareness of cultural perspectives—With what cultural lens am I approaching the world? What might be different about different perspectives on this topic?
- Introduction to experts—Whose experiences and work can teach me about this topic? Which voices and perspectives should I listen to?
- Build knowledge—What are the experts saying? Is there legitimate debate about this topic?
- Connect themes with student lives—How does this topic relate to me and my life? What is my relationship to this theme or place?
Example activities: Assigned readings/viewings, role-playing games, mapping/listening activities, lectures, interviews, interaction with guest speakers, assigned readings/viewings, written reflections/analysis
EXPEDITION AND TRANSFERENCE
- Independent Study Projects—What most interests me? How can I present my learning to my peers in a respectful way?
- Peer Education—What can I learn from my group? What feedback can they offer me? What feedback can I offer them?
- Identifying action based on learning—Now that I have new knowledge, how should I act on it?
- Review, Reflection, Evaluation, Feedback—What was successful about this experience? How can I communicate and receive feedback effectively?
- Gratitude & Celebration—How do we acknowledge the labor, experience, vulnerability that went into this experience?
- Implementing new ways of seeing—How can I see my home environment through new eyes?
Example activities: Independent research, peer evaluations, project planning, guided reflection, written and verbal feedback, goal setting, gratitude circles
The main goal of the online course is to help students develop global competencies for a world in transition by looking at: 1) Social Cohesion: Diversity vs. Division, 2) Advocating Through Story, and 3) Travel-Induced Paradigm-Shifts. -Miriam Piña, Riverdale Country School