Cultivating A Generation of Connected Learners


We know the world has drastically changed for our children. For them to be successful in today’s networked world, they will need new strategies and tools for learning. Information and access is boundless, and the opportunity to learn has never been more real or available. Yet taking advantage of what John Seeley Brown has called these “ever moving flows of activities and knowledge” takes practice.  At the same time, we have hopes for our kids to be building robots and forts, creating art, using their imagination and communicating effectively in new ways.  So, what if your student was inspired by a peer group of 200,000 kids all doing just that — making, creating and solving problems — online together?

Enter, the San Francisco based web platform that boasts student users from around the world. Together, they work on meaningful projects, gain essential 21st Century skills, and socially network with each other in a safe online environment.


Build. Make. Hack. Grow. from DIY on Vimeo stands out for its unique ability to cultivate curiosity and inspire making and sharing among kids as young as 6 years old.  Once and account has been made and the App has been downloaded, students peruse an extensive list of “Skills” pages. These pages have prompts, criterion, and even starter challenges. Students then digitally document their science experiments, robotics, writing, artwork, cryptographic devices, code, interactive visualizations, Mine Craft creations, theater and athletics feats — and so much more! After documenting what they have made or done, they upload their work to a digital portfolio benchmarked against the criterion of an appropriate skill. As they build their living portfolio, students interact with each others work through comments and suggestions. The staff moderates the site with simple and firm policies about decorum.  With a five star rating from Common Sense Media and features on NPR, in Bloomberg Businessweek, Fast Company , is heralded as “a place for kids creative output to live effortlessly on the web”.

At GEMS World Academy – Chicago, we are dedicated to students becoming global citizens.  To do this, they need to connect and collaborate across the world in rich and purposeful experiences. supports our connected and blended learning program by providing a landscape where the internet supports and enhances interactions at school and at home. We encourage and support our teachers to engage in a wide array of connected and blended learning with their classes. is an excellent example of our early success. Through students:

  • Co-learn and create across continents, oceans and cultures, giving our students a direct and experiential way of using the internet as a force in learning.
  • Create a digital documentation system that allows for self, peer, teacher, parent and community assessment for learning.
  • Create an ePortfolio of learning, which allows them to collect, select, reflect, and project on their learning.
  • Take part in networks to connect, aggregate, remix, repurpose and feed forward the work they are creating in the real world.

As a school, GEMS World Academy – Chicago weaves into multiple classroom pilot projects and we are proud that the majority of our student body is currently using this network.  We are also excited about working with the company to pioneer new initiatives in 2015. Look into as you seek prescient new tools to support your children online and inspire them offline–you will not be sorry.

Summer 2015 Update

We were elated to present on at ISTE 2015. This presentation was important as it highlighted how is being used by K-8 schools to transform education. Below is the slidedeck from our Lead Technology and Innovation Officer's expereintial workshop.  Participants took in a presentation on GEMS World Academy - Chicago's project, had a great discussion and used iPads to explore via the App.



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