New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s book The World is Flat became an instant bestseller in 2005 because it detailed a phenomenon most felt but few understood fully: the power of globalization.
While, that’s less true today, back then Friedman wasn’t the only one who recognized and appreciated the increasing interconnectedness of the world.
Michael Furdyk was just a teen-ager at the turn of the century, but he’d already amassed a lifetime of experiences— he began his first company by the fourth-grade and was dabbling in a new fangled technology by the sixth grade— experiences he shared in Tuesday’s National Affiliate webinar: Reimagining Learning in a Globalized World.
Furdyk, a Canadian native, is the co-founder of TakingITGlobal, an online community that facilitates global education, social entrepreneurship, and civic engagement that has reached more than 40 million youth worldwide since its launch in 2000.
But it began simply as an answer to the countless letters that aspiring young entrepreneurs bombarded Furdyk with eager to know the secrets to his success and how they could make their big break. In 1999, Furdyk made headlines, appearing on Oprah and Teen Magazine (he was after all just 17) after he and fellow high school students sold their tech review site, Mydesktop.com, to Internet.com
The ensuing attention and inquiries from other bright, young people across the world inspired Furdyk and fellow wunderkind, Jennifer Corriero, to develop a place where youth, ideas, and action could be combined.
“We built a powerful learning community that really focuses on inspiring, informing and involving youth, which I’m sure is the same goal for all schools,” Furdyk said. “And it’s not just using computers as a glorified typewriter, but leveraging the power of this connectivity with the world to engage our students in learning that is powerful and captivating.”
TakingITGlobal does this in a number of ways, most importantly through TakingITGlobal for Educators (TIGed), a program it launched in 2006 that provides professional development, lesson plans, and collaborative global projects to currently more than 2,400 schools in 118 countries.
With more than 1 million projects shared across 13 different languages, TakingITGlobal is certainly living up to its name.
The second challenge is to connect them to a world that is increasingly globalized. 74 percent think Englisn is #1 language.
“We’re exposing [youth] to countries not as a place on a map to be memorized but a place where they’ve created a meaningful connection,” said Furdyk. “So, when I think of India, I think of my friend Habeeb who I’ve collaborated with and talked online.”