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Touchable Earth

The first app where kids teach kids about the world.

Photo of Tudor Clee
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Touchable Earth shares the kids' eye view of the world.  

It is a free to use program available at touchableearth.org. It is comprised of 1000+ videos of kids aged 8-11 years old teaching about the place they live in short videos.

The program presents snapshots of facts (map, the capital, the anthem), family life, games they play, culture, their school day, and their aspirations. 

All the videos have been shot professionally.  Kids speak the language they feel comfortable with and subtitles are available in English.

An equal number of videos are presented by girls as boys. 

Touchable Earth promotes tolerance of gender, culture, and identity. 

The United Nations Alliance of Civilisations awarded it the best app to improve intercultural dialogue (Vienna 2013). 

Explain your idea

We address all three of the challenge issues surrounding peace, planet, and prosperity. This is because they are all fundamentally improved by the same factor: tolerance. Tolerance provides a path to empathy, dialogue, and action. Having personally interviewed 1000 children of all backgrounds and circumstances in 18 countries I can safely say tolerance already exists in children aged around 10 years old. So what happens to it? The natural positive curiosity kids have gets replaced by intolerance. When a child is told someone else is “them”, or to be viewed negatively, they listen. In most cases there is no alternative narrative for them to resist with. Touchable Earth provides a narrative of an interesting inclusive world in a context children can relate to. It promotes tolerance in gender, culture, and identity. There are four pillars to Touchable Earth. 1. Taught by kids. Children love learning from each other. This is known as 'peer learning'. We prefer to call it 'learning by making friends'. Adults only appear in supporting roles such as being introduced as a teacher or parent. 2. Aged 8-11 years old. We consider the best age for kids to learn from Touchable Earth to be around 10 years old. We've found it to be the optimal intersect between awareness of one's own identity and curiosity about others. 3. Promoting gender equality. We keep an even balance between boys and girls across the videos. In many places the educational materials still center on boys as the role players . We want girls using the app to be engaged and feel included. 4. Inclusive of all identities. Using the word 'country' may limit our access to unique cultures and people around the world. As such we call them 'places'. This enables us to be inclusive of any number of cultural identities. Our first version of the app included 'Iraqi Kurdistan' which otherwise wouldn't have been possible. With this as a foundation we can add a fairly simple set of videos to achieve our goal. They are all first person and are usually around 20 seconds long. The learning outcome we want to achieve is developing critical thinking so when the ‘intolerant’ narrative is introduced they have the tools to reject it. Children learn to challenge the definition of diversity. By normalizing seeing and hearing from different genders, cultures, and identities, they begin to see diversity as part of ‘us’ not ‘them’. They learn to ask different questions such as ‘how are we similar?’ rather than the default position of ‘how are we different?’. The value of subjectivity is introduced through broadening the answers to questions. They learn the world is not explainable with multi choice and adding a human element enriches an answer. The app is made with a very simple structure so users can browse places and topics and simply click a photograph to view a video. http://www.touchableearth.org/places/

Who Benefits?

This is a global idea. It is about rewriting the way children view themselves and their place in the world. Children themselves: It introduces a narrative that there is a world out there to explore and cooperate with. It gives a perspective increasingly desired by schools, universities, and employers who recognize the importance of ‘global citizenship’. The world as a whole: To see the tolerance deficit simply look at any news source right now. Every story you read is accompanied by a common denominator – violence. Whether against women in a domestic setting, or against an entire religion on a macro scale, it all stems from a failure to view the ‘other’ as a person. Raising a new generation to view others as equal participants and contributors irrespective of gender, culture, or identity benefits every single tier of society.

How is your idea unique?

Firstly, interactive initiatives where ‘kids teach kids’. There are classrooms connecting on Skype or other ways. We are available to any connected child at any time. Secondly, initiatives on tolerance for gender, culture, and identity. Subtlety. Our message is not overt. That can turn users off. We simply say it is kids teaching kids about the world and let the content do the work though the natural curiosity of the child. Unique advantages for implementation: Develop: We have the experience of creating 1000 videos in 18 countries around the world and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Create: Our strongest partner, iearn.org, is the world leader in collaborative education for elementary schools in 140 countries. UNESCO Dakar Office is a partner and assisted with adapting parts of the program to the Sustainable Development Goals. Engage: iearn assists with promoting the program. We are translating the program into multiple languages and adding offline access

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

Touchable Earth is a registered Non Profit based in Auckland, New Zealand. It was founded by Tudor Clee and Tom Clarkson in 2012. Tudor is a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and fashion designer. He has visited over 160 UN member states studying history and society. He undertook the financing and filming of the project and created over 1000 videos of elementary aged kids in 18 countries around the world. Tom developed the original application. Digital Media is managed by Natalia Ortiz who is qualified in video, graphics, and animation. She is based in Auckland. Technical development is managed by David Fox who has taken over the role from Tom. He built the new web based version of Touchable Earth. Our Senior Advisor is Dr. Ed Gragert, former Chairman of iearn.org and recognised globally as a champion of both international education and girls education. The book about the development of Touchable Earth, "The Touchable Earth Story" contains forewords from the leading academic on Global Citizenship education, Professor Fernando Reimers of Harvard University, and a 'father of the internet' Dr. Vint Cerf of Google. Key partners are iearn.org, the leading collaborative education network which operates in 140+ countries, and UNESCO Dakar Office. iearn assists with logistics in finding schools to create the content and promoting the program. UNESCO Dakar assists in aligning the material to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Tudor has presented the project globally in Doha (iearn global conference), Nairobi (ICT4D 2016), Hong Kong (Asia Society Asia 21 2015), Washington DC (USAID mEducation Alliance 2015/16), Baku (UNAOC Global Conference), Paris (UNESCO Mobile Learning Week 2017), Mountain View (Google Ed Foo 2017). Everyone involved with Touchable Earth is passionate about the project and available to assist with its development and future.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

2 comments

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Photo of eldy wullur
Team

Hi Tudor,
This idea is a good way to prepare children to the world peace.
They can campaign for world peace from an early age.
By knowing the language, culture and so will arouse more curiosity in and then gave birth to the love of neighbor.

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