Within the past ten years, technology has connected distant parts of the world and brought people closer together. People living in remote regions, can now have access to the same information as the rest of the world.
Some organizations are finding ways to use technology to increase global empathy, with the result that more people want to help those in need, especially in developing nations.
Here are five ways technology reduces poverty and promotes empathy through cultural awareness around the world:
- Virtual Reality
This year, the educational nonprofit Global Nomads Group, will add a virtual reality component to their global education curriculum. The virtual reality experience will be of the Syrian war and the chaos and destruction it has caused for the civilians. In it, the user experiences a normal day in Aleppo complete with girls singing and people shopping. Suddenly there is an explosion, and the screen becomes gray with virtual smoke. After a test run with students from Los Angeles, many said they felt humbled after the experience. This technology has the potential for users to literally see what it is like for others in this situation, which helps lead to greater global compassion.
The Wonderment is a free app launched in 2014 by Salt Lake City nonprofit Kidnected World. The app posts real world challenges, and the child users respond with pictures, videos, or text to help solve the problem. These responses are then commented on by other users, resulting in cross-cultural exchanges between the children. Funds can then be solicited to make the solutions a reality and solve the issues. One example is a mobile library the children started for a school in Guatemala. This app teaches children around the global entrepreneurial, problem solving and philanthropic skills.
- Online Telecommunication
Previously only available to the wealthiest classrooms, global exchanges between schools have become readily accessible to all as a result of the internet and programs like Skype. Through the social enterprise Level Up Village, schools in the U.S. take courses and a portion of the profits is used to donate the same course to a global partner organization in the developing world. This past year, students from Uganda connected with a classroom in New Orleans in a 21st century-version of pen pals. The students from Uganda explained how they do not have reliable access to electricity and must use candles at night. This exchange led to both sets of students working to address this problem by creating solar-powered lights. The students worked together to solve the issue, solving a real world problem.
The faculty at Harvard’s School of Education is pairing classrooms around the globe in an effort to promote understanding. The project involves a recreation of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek’s trek around the world, when he retraced and documented humanity’s global migration. The students will do the same, but with their own neighborhoods, creating multimedia maps of their towns with visual, audio and written stories from people that live there. These maps will then be uploaded and shared with the other classrooms. This activity connects people and regions, promoting cross-cultural learning and understanding.
- Aural Learning
The website duolingo.com is a free language learning program that allows the user to learn a language through vocabulary, translation and hearing. The user is provided with a spoken text and then asked to translate it. The benefit of duolingo.com is that it allows the user to hear a native speaker’s pronunciation, allowing them to perfect their own. According to a study by the University of South Carolina, 34 hours on the website is equivalent to one semester of university instruction. This website teaches the world to learn to communicate with each other, and fosters a common understanding.