Support UNICEF Innovations new call for support for VR/AR

REPOST: Our friends at the UNICEF Innovation Fund have released a call for proposals. Deadline is 17 September. Brief summary below, and full posting here: http://unicefstories.org/vr/.

The Innovation Fund allows UNICEF to quickly assess, fund and grow open-source solutions that can improve children’s lives. Financial and technological support is available for companies that can show a strong founding team and a clear path to improving the lives of children.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund is looking for start-ups that are developing and piloting new open source VR/AR solutions. We are looking to make investments in 1) software for authoring or consuming these new realities, 2) platforms and ways providing wider access to that software, 3) platforms and ways providing better tools for content creation (such as a template, workflow, or format), and 4) particular applications of content.

For our next VR/AR cohort of investees we are particularly interested in the following applications of content:

  • Learning
    Teaching people to perform simple tasks, in many languages, with higher retention rates and better motivational levels (examples: how to install a water pump; how to recognize malnutrition in under 5-year-olds; how to teach seamstresses to perform simple procedures). VR/AR also presents new ways of increasing access to experiential learning, including for people with disabilities.
  • Understanding complex environments
    Accessing large amounts of data and deciphering them in a better way. Getting a simple picture from a complex collection of data points (examples: converting history of GIS data points from refugee camps into a VR environment for better planning; improving situational awareness for emergency responders).
  • New ways of storytelling
    Undiscovered ways of using VR/AR to tell a story, especially by bridging cross-cultural gaps and creating a dialogue.

Be daring: Applications to the Fund are accepted on a rolling basis. However, to be considered for the VR/AR-focused cohort, we ask you to submit your application by September 17, 11:59pm EDT.

How the United Nations is using Virtual Reality

On the 20 April, Kristin Gutekunst, Executive Producer of the UN SDG Action Campaign and project lead on UNVR, and David Cravinho, Global Fundraising Specialist for UNICEF presented at the Virtual Reality Show in London. Joining top brands from creative, technology, hardware agencies, as well as government institutions and NGOS, the show provided an opportunity to present the UNVR system’s achievements, future strategy and establish the UNVR brand as an industry leader in using interactive experiences for social impact.

In this video, Kristin Gutekunst gives an overview on the various ways the United Nations system has been using VR to allow people to step into the shoes of people around the world – creating deep human connections and fighting preconceptions. She discusses the many ways the UN system has been testing these films; potential impact on fundraising, high level advocacy, and educational programs. She also give hints about some of the big plans in store.

David Cravinho provides best practices and lessons learned on the initial findings from UNICEF’s global project to incorporate VR into their fundraising strategy, and showcases some of the innovative ways UNICEF National Committees are using it in the field through face-to-face-fundraising.

The show was an arena for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality professionals and enthusiasts to explore experiences, witness panels and meet the top brands and innovators working in the fields of social impact, education, automotive, gaming, medicine, amusement parks, space, etc.

For more information about the UNVR program, please visit www.UNVR.org

Next Generation, Cross-Curricular Global Learning through Immersive Technology

Blog by Neesha N. Rahim, Co-Founder Level Up Village

The Level Up Village (LUV) team joined forces with the UN SDG Action Campaign, Shared_Studios, VIF, The Qatar Foundation International & P21 at the 2016 Global Ed Forum in Philadelphia in October. With the goal of providing an immersive, perspective-building experience for some of the best and brightest educators working to build global competency skills in K-12 students,  the experience provided a unique interpretation of “cross-curricular learning” and showed how global competency could be infused in all aspects of education.

Thought leaders from around the world had the opportunity to immerse themselves virtually in the stunningly heartbreaking world of a Syrian refugee child named Sidra via Clouds Over Sidra. This set the stage to understanding what life is like in a Syrian refugee camp, adding depth and intimacy to an issue that many see only on the news.  Those who saw the film came away excited by the promises of VR, seeing the film and technology as an opportunity to effectively teach today’s digital natives about topics from the refugee crisis to the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

“Watching Clouds over Sidra in VR was an incredibly impactful experience,” said Connor Seidenschwarz of the Qatar Foundation International.  “Last summer I worked in a refugee camp in Lebanon, and the VR experience made me feel like I was right back there again.  I think this type of medium, along with the Shared_Studios portal and Level Up Village programs, will have a huge impact on anyone learning about refugee experience, especially in terms of what it can do to create humanize refugees.”

“I’ve worked in many countries, including in the developing world.  Yet this film drove home what life is really like for refugee children and made me see the differences and similarities between children here and there in a different light,” David Ross, Chief Strategy Officer at P21 said of the experience.

“Global education is the lens through which all teaching and learning should occur. Virtual exchanges, collaborative projects, and immersive VR experiences like Clouds over Sidra are critical elements for delivering quality education to all,” said David Young CEO of VIF, an organization that works districts and schools to develop global-ready teachers and students.

After watching the film, participants walked into a gold colored, sparkling Shared_Studios Portal tent where they connected in real time through full-body video conference with groups in Iraq, Pakistan and Nicaragua.  These live interactions pulled the world of each of these groups even closer, breaking down the wall of self consciousness that we often see via modes like Skype.  Through this opportunity, educators explored how students might be able to play and engage meaningfully with peers from around the world.    

Boys who fled the ISIS takeover of Mosul two years ago and are living in Harsham Camp for internally displaced Iraqis in the city of Erbil spoke directly to conference participants via the Erbil Portal, curated by UNICEF Iraq.  Amidst more serious conversations, one US educator spontaneously played a game of rock, paper, scissors with the children who taught her the Arabic words for the game.  The young Iraqi boys then taught a group of three women in the US a local dance.

Lindsay Mackenzie, communications specialist with UNICEF Iraq, explained that connecting with people around the world serves to build perspective and open the world for children in the camp, while giving voice to those who do not feel heard. Moreover, these opportunities represent hope and a moment of respite from otherwise harrowing situations.

Participants also connected in real time with educators and students from Level Up Village’s Global Partner programs in Pakistan and Nicaragua. iEarn Pakistan, led by Farah Kamal, has done incredible work in building global competency and tech skills in Pakistani students, often against seemingly insurmountable odds.  

“It was thrilling to stand right in front of my counterparts at the GEF 2016 and talk. We have the same hopes and aspirations – to have our students grow and thrive in a peaceful world,”  said Farah Kamal, Executive Director of iEarn Pakistan.   

Global Ed Forum participants interacted in real time with Level Up Village global partners NicaPhoto Nicaragua and iEARN Pakistan

At NicaPhoto in Nicaragua, Ronnie Maher has provided quality education, nutrition and other social services to hundreds of students who live in homes that were only recently wired for electricity.  Via Level Up Village programs, students in each location have engaged in one-to-one STEAM (STEM + arts) collaborations with students at schools in the US.

“The impact of Level Up Village programs on our kids is great, beginning with learning to use a computer, learning to form their own ideas, and to ask questions,” said Ronnie Maher, Founder & Executive Director of NicaPhoto. “The video letters and one-to-one connections help them to be less shy as they learn to express themselves. The project-based, small class environment is a unique opportunity that can have a big impact on learning here in Nicaragua.”

At the conference, we also demonstrated how Level Up Village’s social media-inspired platform facilitates the exchange of asynchronous video letters and project collaboration across the globe. In our courses, students in the US are paired one-on-one with partner students from around the world to learn cutting-edge STEAM skills and apply them to real-world problems, In addition, they collaborate on shared project files and exchange information about about each other’s daily lives and cultures through a guided exchange of video letters. The result is meaningful global collaboration and an enhanced understanding of the world – at a personal level.

Students in 20+ countries connect and collaborate using Level Up Village’s mobile-friendly Global Communications Platform in courses such as Global Inventors (3D printing). This type of innovative global STEAM collaboration with real-world applications teaches important 21st Century skills and creates meaningful personal connections

Participants at the Global Ed Forum experienced firsthand how a variety of exciting new technologies are proving to be game-changers in the field of global education. We look forward to further opportunities to collaborate with VIF, P21, The Qatar Foundation International, Shared_Studios and the UN SDG Action Campaign to move global education forward. In the next few years, we expect many more schools in the US and around the world will access the tools they need to bring the world into their classroom and the impact will be profound. Students will be able to develop social awareness, empathy and global competency in unprecedented ways, providing them with the framework they need to become compassionate leaders of tomorrow.

** Special thanks to GEF 2016 organizer Brandon Wiley & Dave Potter of VIF for making this experience possible.

About Level Up Village: A social enterprise based in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Level Up Village (LUV) delivers pioneering Global STEAM (STEM + Arts) enrichment courses that promote design thinking and one-to-one collaboration on real-world problems between K-9 students in the U.S. and partner students in developing countries. Launched in 2012, LUV runs courses during school, after-school and in the summer at more than 150 U.S. schools, with 30+ Global Partner organizations in more than 20 countries.  For more information, visit at levelupvillage.com or find us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter @LevelUpVillage.

Peoples Voices at the World Education Forum

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For the past two and a half years, the United Nations has asked people around the world to tell them what matters most to their lives. Thus far, 4.9 million of the 7.5 million people who voted in the MY World Global Survey have chosen “A better education”. This trend is true regardless of age, gender, education level and is similar across most countries in the world.

Anthony Lake, Executive Director UNICEF
Anthony Lake, Executive Director UNICEF

From May 18-21, we partnered with UNICEF in the production of an exhibit to amplify the voices of people around the world at the 2015 World Education Forum in Incheon, South Korea. The forum, co-convened by UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNHCR & UN Women, brought together stakeholders from all sectors to look at achievements and shortfalls from the Millennium Development Goals and the Education for All targets. Participants agreed on the Incheon Declaration which sets out a renewed vision in education, one that aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.

The exhibit featured data visualizations on the importance of education for people around the world, such as the MY World datasetMY World priority heat mapUN Global Pulse MY World Twitter mappingWorld We Want key word visualisations, and stories of why people voted for education through the Humans of MY World communications campaign. UNICEF showcased two innovations targeting the out-of-school children:  Raspberry Pi Learning Initiative from Lebanon provides non-formal education to the millions of displaced children as a result of the Syrian crisis, and E-learning, offers accelerated learning opportunities to some of the 1.8 million out-of-school children in Sudan.

Executive Directors Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka UN Women and Irina Bokova, UNESCO visit the exhibit
Executive Directors Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka UN Women and Irina Bokova, UNESCO visit the exhibit

The exhibition centered around Clouds Over Sidra, a virtual reality experience about the daily life of a Syrian refugee. Clouds Over Sidra tells the story of a 12 year old Syrian refugee living in the Za’atari Camp in Jordan. Sidra talks about the important support structures in the camp, including education, football for girls, wrestling and computer labs for the boys. She also talks about the children who don’t use these support structures:

Some kids don’t go to school. They want to wait until we are back home in Syria. I think it’s silly to wait. How will they remember anything? And there is nothing to do here anyway.

Continue reading “Peoples Voices at the World Education Forum”

Every opinion counts

IMG_0174Volunteers engaged young people in Azerbaijan in an open conversation about their priorities for the post-2015 development agenda.

BAKU, October 2013 – “If I had a chance to be born again, I would choose to be born nowhere else but in my village. I don’t want to move to the city, I just want to be able to get everything I need as a young person in my village,” said 19-year-old Firuza Guliyeva from the remote rural area in Gedebey during the National Youth Consultations held in Shirvan, Azerbaijan. For young people to be heard and considered during decision making came up as one of the most salient themes during the national consultation process in Azerbaijan – part of the ongoing global conversations being led by the UN and world leaders to build a collective vision of a new post-2015 development framework. Continue reading “Every opinion counts”

25 Sept. MY World Partner Recognition Event and Award Ceremony

When: 25 September 2013, 6:15 pm (EST) 
Where: Danny Kaye Center. UNICEF House, 3 UN Plaza, New York

11 Promotion Activity for My World

Thanks to the support of over 700 partners worldwide, MY World, the United Nations survey for a better world, has mobilized over 850,000 participants in 194 countries.

By September 2013, we will have reached 1 million votes and this turning point provides the perfect backdrop for a MY World Partner Recognition Event and MY World Award Ceremony.

The MY World Awards will recognize the work  of those  partners who have stood out for their performance in the promotion of the MY World survey at the national or international level.

Continue reading “25 Sept. MY World Partner Recognition Event and Award Ceremony”

Bringing the People of India into the Global Conversation

Press release

“I am thrilled that by making a simple phone call people can take a virtual seat at the UN to participate in a global conversation on the roadmap for the future” – Ms Priyanka Chopra

Mumbai, 27 May 2013 – The United Nations has invited citizens from around the world to vote on the issues that make the most difference to their lives. Over 560,000 citizens from 194 countries have already voted in one of the largest global surveys ever undertaken, providing real-time and real-world intelligence on what people think are biggest challenges.

Continue reading “Bringing the People of India into the Global Conversation”

UN Inter-agency collaboration drives successful MY World roll out in the Philippines

The United Nations in the Philippines marked a difference. From left to right: Ms. Eden Lumilan, UNCO Coordination Analyst; Mr. Christopher Rollo, UN-HABITAT Philippines Country Programme Manager, Ms. Ugochi Daniels, UNFPA Country Representative; Mr. Aristeo Portugal, FAO Philippines Assistant Representative (Programme); Mr. Dragoslav Djuraskovic, WFP Head of Logistics; Ms. Teresita Bagasao, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Mr. Lawrence Jeff Johnson, ILO Country Director; Mr. Marco Boasso, IOM Philippines Chief of Mission; Mr. William Wairoa-Harrison, UNDSS Security Adviser; Dr. Sigrun Roesel, WHO Representative; Mr. Daniel Toole, UNICEF East Asia Regional Director; Ms. Luiza Carvalho, UN Resident Coordinator; Mr. Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Philippines Country Representative; and Mr. David Carden, Head of UN-OCHA.
The United Nations in the Philippines marked a difference. From left to right: Ms. Eden Lumilan, UNCO Coordination Analyst; Mr. Christopher Rollo, UN-HABITAT Philippines Country Programme Manager, Ms. Ugochi Daniels, UNFPA Country Representative; Mr. Aristeo Portugal, FAO Philippines Assistant Representative (Programme); Mr. Dragoslav Djuraskovic, WFP Head of Logistics; Ms. Teresita Bagasao, UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Mr. Lawrence Jeff Johnson, ILO Country Director; Mr. Marco Boasso, IOM Philippines Chief of Mission; Mr. William Wairoa-Harrison, UNDSS Security Adviser; Dr. Sigrun Roesel, WHO Representative; Mr. Daniel Toole, UNICEF East Asia Regional Director; Ms. Luiza Carvalho, UN Resident Coordinator; Mr. Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Philippines Country Representative; and Mr. David Carden, Head of UN-OCHA.

My World in the Philippines is going full steam ahead following a successful partnership launch and media briefing last month. From less than a thousand votes in March, the Philippines now ranks 3rd, with more than 18,000 votes.

Key to this success is the UN Country Team’s inter-agency collaboration, supported by a UN Communication Group that drives respective agencies into partnership expansion at all levels, from government, to private sector, to citizen groups. Continue reading “UN Inter-agency collaboration drives successful MY World roll out in the Philippines”

Rwandan girls lead the way on UN’s Post-2015 MY World Survey

By Girl Effect Team

"Children from 12-18 in EFOTEC School in Rwanda line up for the daily assembly to learn more about the MY World Survey in Rwanda"
“Children from 12-18 in EFOTEC School in Rwanda line up for the daily assembly to learn more about the MY World Survey in Rwanda” (c)
Mark Darrough/Girl Hub Rwanda

As the world gears up to decide on the next set of global development goals, girls from across Rwanda are making their voices heard.

Last week, Girl Hub Rwanda’s Ni Nyampinga girl ambassadors helped 80,000 copies of the MyWorld Survey – the UN’s public consultation on the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – reach youths in every corner of the country.

“Girls across Rwanda are leading the charge to amplify youth voices in the post-2015 agenda,” said Amina Mohammed, special adviser to the UN secretary-general on post-2015 development planning.

“I understand that the girl ambassadors are going to be reaching boys and girls in every corner of the country. This commitment and approach in Rwanda should serve as an example for the rest of the world.” Continue reading “Rwandan girls lead the way on UN’s Post-2015 MY World Survey”