3 Ways You Can Use Technology to Explore Culture
Updated: Jan 5
In my 20+ years of experience in educational technology, there has been a gradual movement towards creating more culturally responsive lessons. Cultural responsiveness in education means relating a learned concept towards a person’s individual experience. For example, you may do a lesson on cyberbullying and have students share where they’ve seen bullying occurring online. You will likely get the same types of answers, but since there are many different places to see cyberbullying online, students will relate your question back to the websites they individually interact with, getting your students more engaged and giving them the opportunity to learn something new from their classmates’ experiences.
Adding technology to culturally responsive teaching practices may look like having students use a laptop or tablet to screenshot places they’ve seen cyberbullying online, researching how it affects a person’s wellbeing, and then presenting their findings to their peers. Again, students are more engaged, and now they’re learning how to use technology at the same time.
Below are three activities that you can do with students that incorporate cultural responsiveness and technology for a lesson that they will remember.
Drawing Yourself & Others (2+ people)
Using Google Jamboard or another drawing app, ask students to draw a portrait of themselves.
Assign students a partner and tell them to take 10 minutes and ask each other questions to learn more about each other. They can ask about hobbies, favorite school subjects, TV shows - whatever makes them happy.
After the 10 minutes, have the students draw a portrait of their partner, incorporating what they just learned about them. For example, if their partner likes to bake, they can draw them in a baking hat or stirring a bowl of ingredients.
Have the student add a picture they find on the web as a background for their portrait. Following our example, the student can add a picture of a bakery as the background image.
Once both partners have drawn a portrait of each other and added a background image, have them share the Jamboards with each other.
Have the students open the Jamboard that was shared with them and add comments and compliments to the Jamboard.
After adding comments to their Jamboards, have students share the Jamboards with the teacher, that way the teacher can grade their work and show the students’ work to the class.
Technology you will need (including alternatives):
Tablet, laptop, desktop, or phone
An app that will allow you to draw pictures, add images from the internet, and share your drawings with others (ex. Google Jamboard, IOS Notes app)
Creating a YouTube Playlist (1+ people)
Using a tablet, laptop, desktop or phone, open YouTube and have students sign into their YouTube account.
Have students search for videos that help them understand someone else’s culture or they think would help someone else understand their own culture. For example, they might add this video of Khary Jackson, an award-winning writer, dancer and musician, reading aloud a spoken word poem he wrote about Tamir Rice, this video explaining the meaning of Hanukkah, or this video of a traditional dance in Colombia.
Have students find 3-5 videos under ~15 minutes long and add the videos to a playlist. It may be helpful for students to name their playlist with their first name and last name initial (ex. Erica D.) so that the teacher can easily tell whose playlist is whose.
Incorporating this activity into a full lesson about online research skills: This would also be a great time to talk about how to verify if the videos students find are true, since they will be finding videos about cultures that are different than theirs. You may have students find 1-2 article sources that verify the information found in the video they add to their playlist.
The playlist should be marked as Unlisted (not Private or Public) and then shared with the teacher.
The teacher can choose to play a few of the videos from different playlists for the class and then pair students up to share playlists with each other.
The homework for the lesson can be to watch the videos on their partner’s playlist and discuss what they learned from it with their partner the next day.
It might also be interesting for the teacher to create one about themself too.
Technology you will need:
Tablet, laptop, desktop or phone
Note: The YouTube Kids app does not allow students to make their own playlists or share videos via URL links, so this activity cannot be done using YouTube Kids.
Note: Students should use a school YouTube account, not their personal accounts.
Mapping a Neighborhood (1+ people, Suggested Age: high school and up)
Using Google Jamboard or another drawing app, ask students to set the background to the graph.
Then have students open Google Maps and, if possible, make the windows for Jamboard and Maps align side by side. On a tablet or mobile device, use split screen view features. On a laptop or desktop, open the websites on different windows and position the two windows to be side by side on screen.
Students will then choose a neighborhood and make a rough map of it in the gridlines of their Jamboard. Have students choose a neighborhood that they have been told not to go to, that they have never lived in, or that they were told was maybe dangerous. It can be a neighborhood that was close to where they live or somewhere that they’ve always heard of as being "not safe" for them to go to. The neighborhood can be in another country, too. Just make sure they pick only one neighborhood or subsect of a city to focus on.
Once they have a neighborhood in mind, they will search for it on Google Maps. It should be the default option in Maps, but make sure their maps are being shown in Satellite view. Although they should take note of the Transit and Biking view options, as well, as it may be helpful to view those maps, too.
With your Google map in Satellite view and the screen split, they are going to draw a rough map of the neighborhood in Jamboard using a key (also called a map legend) to identify basic features like places of worship, schools, parks, supermarkets, libraries, water, etc.
Some questions for the students to ask themselves while drawing the map are:
Is there public transportation?
Is there anywhere that you can identify as being a place where the community gathers, like a main street where all the important stores are?
Is there anywhere in the neighborhood that you'd like to go - like to a restaurant, stadium or theater?
What stands out to you that's positive about the community?
Did anything surprise you?
Below is an example of what the map can look like. Have students draw the map in a way that they think best showcases the specific neighborhood they’ve chosen.
(Screenshot taken using Split Screen view on an iPad (IOS system) with the Notes app)
When finished, have students share their map with the teacher. They should label their Jamboard with the name of the neighborhood they chose and their name.
The teacher can then share a few of the maps with the class and have students discuss what they learned from the activity.
The purpose of the activity is that it’s important to recognize the differences and similarities that shape us, as that can help us understand each other better. Students may also realize that the “unsafe” neighborhoods they were told about have a lot more to do with race than they thought (not just crime).
Technology you will need:
Tablet, laptop, desktop or phone
An app that will allow you to have gridlines, draw, and share your drawing with others (ex. Google Jamboard, IOS Notes app)
Preferably, you will have a split screen option on your device or the students will be capable of switching between screens to view the drawing and map apps/screens easily
At LogicWing, our years of experience lends us to taking on more creative educational endeavors like the examples you see above. If you're interested in working with us, contact us here.
Blanca E. Duarte, Chief Enablement Officer, LogicWing