It’s fitting that a teen came up with the idea.
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, when young people found themselves unable to attend school, socialize, or work, a Global Nomads Group program alumna reached out to us via email. She asked if we might offer an online internship opportunity. Her chance inquiry lit a spark that has spread and become the incandescent core of Global Nomads Group’s current programming.
Global Nomads Group’s Content Creation Lab is an intensive project-based learning experience for youth interns. Each cohort of interns creates digital learning content that reaches thousands of young people with compelling information and diverse perspectives, as well as opportunities and inspiration for youth to engage and take action on the issues they’re most concerned about.
“Covid showed us the possibilities for new kinds of work across distance and difference. Suddenly we had the ability to engage young people in the way we develop content,” says Program Manager Katie Cox.
Each Content Creation Lab cohort of youth interns (ages 11-23) completes a foundational anti-bias training before dividing into cross-national teams led by experienced peer leaders. They then decide which topics to explore, using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to identify issues with universal relevance to achieving a more just, equitable and sustainable world.
“Having the voices in the room of those most impacted is crucial, particularly people who are not used to being valued and reflected in learning content,” Katie explains. “We actively recruit and select for a variety of experiences, including age, gender, race, nationality and neurodiversity.”
Global Nomads Group’s professional staff provide training and coaching in curriculum development, online accessibility, user experience (UX), and video production. We equip youth with the tools they need to organize and collaborate among themselves. Experienced interns. mentor new ones, coaching them on time management, organizational skills, creative thinking, and technical skills to produce excellent educational content.
The results have been profound. Content Creation Lab cross-national teams have produced online courses, educational videos, live virtual convenings, and social media campaigns.
The program helps teens realize they are not alone in their concern for the planet and the future of humanity or in their desire to be part of the solutions. Knowledge and connectedness lead to confidence, belonging, and hopefulness about the difference they can make. These empowering experiences can be transformative for teens experiencing isolation and anxiety about the world’s pressing issues – particularly in the COVID era.
An external evaluation found that Content Creation Lab interns gained an increased sense of empathy and greater competence in communication, collaboration and leadership. 100% said they built a better understanding of their professional strengths and that they felt a strong sense of belonging – and of self.
To date, seven cohorts comprising 112 youth from 26 countries have collaborated on Content Creation Lab cross-national design teams. In turn, the learning experiences they’ve created have reached more than 7,000 youth in 53 countries, generating positive youth outcomes for participants around empathy, perspective taking, and action orientation.
“Youth are leaders, creators, and curators of inclusive collaborative spaces,” Katie effuses. “This is project-based learning at its very best.”