Globaloria: An Innovative Social Network and Digital Curriculum for Blended Learning Through Game Design

Globaloria: An Innovative Social Network and Digital Curriculum for Blended Learning Through Game Design

United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Simultaneously a social network for learning and an engine of educational reform, Globaloria changes how we teach and learn, addressing urgent needs in our current educational system:
-the need for competence in the new digital literacy that is the language of social networking,
-the need for basic understanding of the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering, math),
-the need for skills in critical analysis and problem-solving, and
-the need for co-learning through collaboration across social networks.
Globaloria uses a hybrid model, both online and onsite, that constitutes a more effective formula for learning. Students learn by doing, gaining critical skills and content knowledge by co-creating original educational webgames focusing on civics, STEM and core subjects.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

As the connected world continues its headlong advance into a media-rich and socially dynamic Information Age, underserved communities are left even farther behind in terms of participation and the ability to advance and succeed. Three realities prevent low-income communities from engaging fully in 21st-century civic life: 1) Lack of access to high-speed internet and the virtual social networks that exist in this digital space; 2) Lack of the digital literacy needed to participate – both to create and consume – the web-based media that are the contemporary medium of civic participation; and 3) Lack of innovative initiatives that can engage disconnected communities as a whole. In direct response, Globaloria targets economically and technologically underserved communities. Our current implementations are in a number of challenging communities—among them, the poorest and most rural districts in West Virginia; serving English language learners from historically low-performing, economically disadvantaged, and educationally underserved urban communities in Austin, Texas; the least technologized county in the nation, Santa Clara, California; the eighth largest district in the country’s fourth worse-performing education system, Hillsborough County, Florida; and in Harlem, New York. In all communities we focus on expanding learning opportunities for girls and people of color and working with and empowering non-techie teachers so as the have the greatest impact in the most disadvantaged communities and education systems.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Created in 2006, Globaloria is aimed at closing the digital literacy gap that is impeding young people from participating in the social networks that will define their era. It focuses on economically disadvantaged and technologically underserved communities, empowering students with digital technology literacies they can use to create complex web content—namely, games focused on STEM and social change. Equipped with a network of open-source Web2.0 tools, Globaloria enables students to learn by doing, collaboratively conceiving, planning, programming, and implementing webgames. The Globaloria implementation model is flexible and turnkey, and can be replicated across a range of structures and communities. Developed by the World Wide Workshop, the leader in this field, Globaloria is unlike other technological innovations, including well-known digital learning programs by Next Generation Learning, Knowledge Works, Institute of Play, INNOSIGHT, iNACOL and others, in many ways: 1) Its usage of real-world, powerful and pervasive industry standard tools; 2) Its focus on empowering youth with the skills to express themselves and create, not just consume, media; 3) participatory, constructionist, project-based learning; 4) Its focus on professional development and leadership; 5) Its ability to foster deep collaboration among network participants that truly leverages the power of Web2.0 technology; and 6) research that constantly tracks and assess progress; 7) Its capacity to take digital blended learning to scale and to transform the educational experience.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Globaloria ( is the largest educational intervention of its kind. A turnkey tool of blended learning aimed at both educators and students from middle school through college, Globaloria is an innovative year-long academic digital curriculum and social network preparing students for college-level studies—especially in the STEM curricula—careers in the global knowledge economy and civic engagement. The Globaloria curriculum comprises programmable wikis and blogs, game design and programming tutorials, game-content resources, and virtual support systems. Students drive the design process, taking an original idea (game concept) to final product (game) while learning by doing, thus becoming educated in both technical and computational skills and in content knowledge. Globaloria also offers a comprehensive and structured professional development platform and support system (combining online and onsite training) that enables non-techie educators to master blended-learning education and to thus integrate 1:1 computing with game-design and content studies into their classrooms. The Globaloria curriculum is aligned with state standards for systemic integration into the school system. Annual Game Design Competitions complement the curriculum and provide additional motivation and real-world experiences for students.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Developed by the World Wide Workshop, the leader in this field, Globaloria is unlike other technological innovations, including well-known digital learning programs by Next Generation Learning, Knowledge Works, Institute of Play, INNOSIGHT, iNACOL and others, in many ways: 1) Its usage of real-world, powerful and pervasive industry standard tools; 2) Its focus on empowering youth with the skills to express themselves and create, not just consume, media; 3) participatory, constructionist, project-based learning; 4) Its focus on professional development and leadership; 5) Its ability to foster deep collaboration among network participants that truly leverages the power of Web2.0 technology; and 6) research that constantly tracks and assess progress; 7) Its capacity to take digital blended learning to scale and to transform the educational experience.
About You
World Wide Workshop
About You
First Name


Last Name

Harel Caperton

About Your Organization
Organization Name

World Wide Workshop

Organization Phone


Organization Address

151 W 78th St. Suite 1A

Organization Country

, NY, New York County

Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Dr. Idit Harel Caperton is a recognized social entrepreneur in educational technology, an innovative research scientist and learning theorist, and a changemaker specializing in the impact of media technology on the social, cognitive, and behavioral development of children, youth, and educators worldwide. A visionary in the field of education, Idit’s life goal is to transform learning processes and pedagogical practices using the power of technology. With her breakthrough research at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the MIT Media Lab in the 1980s and 1990s, she pioneered the ‘children as software designers’ educational method. She later took her vision to the Internet and launched an award-winning website for children,, which attracted more than six million kid members and, at peak activity, served 250,000 children a day in 36 countries.
In 2004, Dr. Caperton established the World Wide Workshop to advance her cause by leveraging her unique blend of award-winning academic research, business acumen, and leadership in new-media learning projects around the world. The World Wide Workshop is a global, non-profit educational organization dedicated to harnessing the potential of computers and the Internet to enhance technological fluency for creative learning, leadership, innovation, and livelihood skills among underserved children and youth worldwide. Globaloria is the Workshop’s leading project.

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

In 5 years, the program has expanded from serving 86 students in 1 state to 2,000 students in 5 states (California, Florida, New York, Texas, and West Virginia), and has raised $5mm. Since inception, a national network of academic researchers has tracked its effectiveness on students and educators, finding that Globaloria qualitatively and quantitatively transforms education. Students significantly increased their mastery of digital literacy and developed skills in problem-solving, organizational and time management, presentation, and collaborative processes. Girls were inspired to engage in and master technology and to consider STEM careers. Globaloria students scored significantly higher on standardized tests, outperforming non-Globaloria students on WV’s WESTEST2 science and social studies subsets, and more than doubling their improvement on the relevant Texas TAKS tests. Educators honed new skills that impacted their teaching decisions and attitudes and changed their teaching style in non-Globaloria classes, demonstrating the viral character of their new skills. In addition, the Globaloria Leadership Inspiration Awards inspired principals and superintendents to support innovation by successfully integrating Globaloria into their school system via advocacy, recruitment of students, teachers and schools, improving school technology, scheduling more Globaloria classes, and supporting Globaloria teacher professional development. This systemic transformation affecting student, educator, and administrator demonstrates the holistic impact Globaloria can have.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

1,001- 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

West Virginia will implement Globaloria statewide starting in 2012, reaching 3,000 students and 200 educators in 3 years. In 2014, all 600 students at the East Austin (TX) College Prep Academy (6th -11th grade) will participate in Globaloria daily for the entire year. In California, the network will expand over 3 years to more than 5000 students, educators, parents, and community leaders within San Jose and in the wider Silicon Valley region. It will reach nearly all middle schools and high schools in Hillsborough County, Florida, serving 1,000 students supported by 20 educators, and will be poised to expand to all students in the county. The New York program will quadruple in size to 200 students participating in after-school programs throughout the school year and summer.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Lack of sufficient funding continues to be an obstacle in this recession, hampering participation in the network, research and evaluation, and the creation of a model for replication. We will tap into current Federal funding (Race to the Top, School Improvement Grants); will urge superintendents to take on partial funding responsibility; and will scale up to lower cost-per-student.

Technology and Infrastructure
Lack of computers and broadband internet has kept some schools from eligibility and has limited the number of students and classes in participating schools. To overcome this, in March 2011 we partnered with Frontier, WV’s largest telecommunications provider, to launch a West Virginia Broadband Learning Initiative and continue to search for similar partners in other communities while advocating for policy change nationally.

Scheduling and Time Challenges
3 issues: 1) Lack of daily, 90-minute blocks of time for Globaloria classes (hinders amount of time and regularity of occurrence necessary for hands-on, in-depth learning); 2) Digital learning viewed as elective or “special;” 3) Educators’ overburdened schedules impeding self-learning, assessment. We are: asking principals to commit to block scheduling; integrating Globaloria into the core curriculum; leveraging online tools for greater flexibility in the use of time at any location, and are working with principals and superintendents to help educators cope with time crunch.

Tell us about your partnerships

Globaloria, a unique public-private-government partnership model involving local and national communities and businesses, is funded by a mix of grants, corporations, government organizations, and community organizations ( It is significant to note that the Workshop has retained and renewed all partnerships since launching in 2006.

In West Virginia we work closely with the local government (Department of Education, schools and districts, Governor’s Office, and state Center for Professional Development); local business (Frontier); and funders (the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, John S and James L Knight Foundation, Entertainment Software Association Foundation, and the Caperton Fund).

In Austin, Texas, we collaborate with community organizations (Southwest Key Programs), the implementing school (EACPA), and local business (the AMD Foundation).

The California program is supported by community organizations (Silicon Valley Education Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley), local government (Oak Grove School District), and funders (Knight Foundation & local business).

The New York program works with a community organization (National Jazz Museum in Harlem), businesses (ECA Foundation), and funders (Caperton Fund)

Florida’s program is funded by and in partnership with local government (Hillsborough County Public Schools & Florida Department of Education).

Adobe and iCivics support Globaloria on a national level to overcome barriers to digital tools and improve civic literacy, respectively.

Explain your selections

As stated above, the program is funded by a mix of grants, corporations, government organizations, and community organizations. As we continue to grow, we are moving to a more sustainable model in which schools, counties, and districts will directly support the program and its implementation.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

The World Wide Workshop will strengthen the project in a few key ways: 1. Develop, test, and refine a sound business model that ensures sustainability by extending financial responsibility to the partner institutions and their governing structures, as is the industry practice. For example, In WV, starting in 2012-13, the program will be fully funded by the Department of Education. 2. Significantly expand in scale in all regions in which we work, and in so doing reach many more students and educators actively participating in a dynamic social network for learning. 3. Continuously upgrade and enhance the platform, the professional development model, and the curriculum, introducing new authoring tools and languages such as Java, Python, and HTML5. 4. Develop a new assessment tool to measure the impact of our blended-learning STEM curriculum that can be used nationally. 5. Leverage and grow our research network to continue to evaluate the program, identify our strengths and impact, and provide recommendations for improvement. 6. Form additional partnerships with local and national corporations as well as securing federal funding.

Partnerships and Accountability
Please tell us more about how your partnership was formed and how it functions. What specific role does each partner play? What unique resources does each partner bring to the initiative?

In each new community where Globaloria is launched we seek out partnerships that will enhance and support the local implementation effectively. We also work with national partners where possible to expand the network and raise visibility. As such, over the past five years we have established a large number of partnerships across all sectors – public-private-government – in states across the nation.

Our partnerships bring to bear Industry expertise (AMD, ESA), virtual mentors (AMD Foundation), community expertise (SVEF, WVDE, WVCPD, Boys&Girls Clubs, NJMH), funding (all funders), content expertise (iCivics), research and evaluation (national research partners), technology (Adobe), and visibility (Knight, AMD, Adobe).

West Virginia Governor’s Office: The seed funder of Globaloria in West Virginia to energize the WV school system and economy through innovation. The Governor’s Office has been critical in forging partnerships with local institutions and legislating for ongoing funding from the state.

West Virginia Department of Education: A five-year partnership to help expand the Globaloria network across WV, including support for recruitment, technology infrastructure upgrades, funding and research support.

John S and James L Knight Foundation: In 2009, the Knight Foundation funded the launch of the Civics and News Literacy track in WV to empower students to be civic agents in their communities. In 2011, Knight funded the launch of Globaloria in the Silicon Valley region to demonstrate the potential of Globaloria to transform communities as a whole, in both formal and non-formal learning settings. Knight Foundation has helped establish new partnerships with organizations such as iCivics and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, and have helped with communications efforts.

Hillsborough County Public Schools: Our funding and implementing partner in Florida, HCPS helped to recruit educators, provide training support and will lead in the development of a Globaloria assessment tool.

Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation: One of our first and consistently most generous funders, Benedum has helped solidify local partnerships as well as created opportunities for expansion in other communities.

ESA Foundation: ESA provided funding and leadership for the Globaloria Leadership Inspiration Awards to encourage education leaders to make great strides and support innovation in their schools and districts.

Frontier Communications: A newer funder, Frontier is contributing to the ongoing technological advancement and broadband connectivity in WV.

AMD Foundation: AMD Foundation is the principal funder for the Globaloria network at EACPA in Austin Texas. They have also supported networking efforts with other leaders in the field. This year, AMD initiated a volunteer program with EACPA to virtually mentor students during the game design process.

Southwest Key Programs: Southwest Key, the national non-profit agency running EACPA, provides in-kind support to the Globaloria program at EACPA, including staff, location, technology and research support. They also help with ongoing research efforts and expansion.

Silicon Valley Education Foundation: SVEF is a community organization that has helped to recruit new schools and partners in Silicon Valley, have helped with program organization, communications and will support fundraising efforts.

National Jazz Museum in Harlem: NJMH is the implementing partner in Harlem, identifying students and supporting the Globaloria-Jazz summer workshop and eventual expansion to an after-school program.

iCivics: Over the past two years, a curriculum expert from iCivics has visited Globaloria classes to provide feedback to students’ game demos. This year, iCivics helped improve the civics track and led a professional development session about civics to all Globaloria educators.

Adobe: Our partnership with Adobe enables all Globaloria schools to purchase Adobe Flash CS5 (the program the students use to create their games) at a much reduced price that is sustainable for long term growth.

West Virginia Center for Professional Development: WVCPD has provided five-years of support for the professional development of educators in WV and around the country.

The honorary chairs of our STEM and Civics and News Literacy Game Design competitions are Senator Jay Rockefeller and Sandra Day O’Connor, respectively. They are joined by a distinguished panel of judges who are industry and policy experts.

Additional partnerships currently being formed include working with Konami, Adobe and HP to support technology needs and virtual mentorship for students and educators, and additional funders, both corporations and federal.

How are you building in accountability for students' successful STEM learning outcomes? Please provide a summary and examples.

Accountability is built into our program with the Globaloria National Research Network and through such Globaloria assessment tools as surveys, progress reports, and comparison studies using traditional (grades, standardized tests, attendance) and non-traditional (6CLAs, motivation, and engagement etc) metrics. We are developing a new test to assess the digital literacies not included in the current standardized test: Globaloria’s Six Contemporary learning Abilities (6CLAs). They are 1) the ability to invent, work through, and complete an original digital project for an educational web game or interactive stimulation; 2) the ability to manage a project online in a wiki-based networked environment; 3) the ability to create digital media artifacts using wikis, blogs, and websites and to publish and distribute these artifacts online; 4) the ability for social-based learning, participation, and exchange across age groups and levels of expertise in a networked environment; 5) the ability to use information as a learning tool, to search for information purposefully, and to explore information; 6) the ability to surf websites and experiment with web applications and tools.

In addition, our Professional Development program for educators and our Educator Mentorship program are building expertise and capacity among educators, and supporting ongoing excellence. The involvement of principals and superintendents in the program encourages ownership and accountability of technology innovation in their schools and districts and ensure critical support to educators and students for excellence and expansion.


Investment, Marketing/Media, Research/Information, Mentorship.

Please use this space to elaborate on your selection above and/or to add needs that may not be listed.

In order for our program to continue to grow, we look constantly for more partners, implementation sites, and funders, as well as for volunteers from different fields of expertise who can mentor our students. We also need communications and marketing help to educate the public about our program, what it offers and how they can join. Finally, as our program grows, we are always looking for additional research partners to continue to evaluate the impact of our programs on teaching and learning.


Research/Information, Collaboration/Networking, Innovation/Ideas, Mentorship.

Please use this space to elaborate on your selection above and/or to add offers that may not be listed.

Our research network is open-source, and all our data is available to anyone who wants to study and work with it. We are full of innovative ideas and would love to share and grow opportunities for students and educators around the world. Globaloria is led by a team of experts with a lot to offer: the Founder and President has 25 years of experience in research, innovation, and entrepreneurship with new media technology; the VP of Programs and Production has 18 years experience in youth networks and instructional design; the VP of Operations and Partnerships has 15 years experience in online communities and non-profit collaboration; and our directors and managers bring to the table years of experience as educators in both rural and urban areas and experience in community organizing.