Exchange Matters / May 13, 2021

IVLP Partners Discuss Media Education and Disinformation in the Digital Age

Compiled by Skylar Belden, Communications Intern, Global Ties U.S.

The Global Ties Network regularly hosts International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants on topics including media literacy, digital education, and countering disinformation. In 2021, IVLP participants engaged in these dialogues virtually. We asked our Community-Based Members to share highlights from the global conversations they facilitated between IVLP participants and local resources.


IVLP: Social Media – Creatively Connecting Communities
February 2021
NPA: Meridian International Center

On February 16, 2021, International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) participants from Algeria, Egypt Jordan and Kuwait had the opportunity to virtually meet and learn about the work of the Readiness Institute at The Pennsylvania State University to engage young people through authentic experiences and activities that align education, industry and the community.

Social media presentation for IVLP visitors. Image provided by GlobalPittsburgh

Justin Aglio, Ed.D, Founding Senior Director of the Readiness Institute, is an innovative educator and valued professional resource for GlobalPittsburgh. In addition to his duties at Penn State, he is a visiting LearnLab fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, Getting Smart columnist, and a member of the Remake Learning network. Prior to assuming his role at Penn State, Justin started several all-new initiatives in public education, including the first K–12 artificial intelligence program in America, and was selected as a participant in the 2015 Presidential Maker Roundtable discussion at the White House.

The Readiness Institute (RI), created with a grant from The Heinz Endowments, is designed to serve as a learning lab for students and educators, advancing The Heinz Endowments’ vision of a more “Just Pittsburgh” by enabling learners from diverse backgrounds to develop skills and values needed for success. The RI at Penn State operates in coordination with The Heinz Endowments and the Consortium for Public Education and is located in the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh.

Justin introduced the work of The Readiness Institute and his emphasis on making learning relevant to students. He shared with the group the motivation behind launching the Hope Moonshot project in collaboration with Global Moonshots in Education. This initiative collected messages of hope from students, educators, and members of the global community between December 2020 and February 2021, and plans to send those messages to the moon in late 2021 to create a lasting reminder that the hopes of today can become the reality of tomorrow. Students, educators, and members of the global community, including the IVLP participants, were invited to share messages of hope that will be included aboard a mission to the moon. These messages will be saved on an SD card and placed in a storage capsule that will be sent to the moon’s surface by Astrobotic, a Pittsburgh-based space robotics company.

GlobalPittsburgh was proud to have been able to nurture the development of a linkage between the Pittsburgh community and members of this IVLP group through this project. —Written by Gail Shrott, Executive Director, GlobalPittsburgh

Global Ties Kalamazoo

IVLP: Education in the Digital Age
August 2019 and March 2021
NPAs: CRDF Global (2019) and World Learning (March 2021)

There is perhaps no better programmatic theme to juxtapose the differences and similarities between in-person and virtual delegations than “Education in the Digital Age.” Our little case study includes two sessions of this program.

In conjunction with CRDF Global, we welcomed an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) group of Moroccan education professionals, in August 2019, for a program that included visits to Western Michigan University’s new eSports Arena, visits to local elementary schools, and explorations of ways to integrate technology into the classroom. Little did we know how critical this expertise would be, less than a year later.

IVLP participants visit Kalamazoo in 2019. Photo provided by Global Ties Kalamazoo.

Recently, through virtual programming, we hosted a multi-regional group with World Learning, in March 2021, exploring how technologies can be used to reach students with highly mobile backgrounds (such as the children of migrant workers). In this instance, visitors connected with educators at the Van Buren Intermediate School District and Western Michigan University’s Department of Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology – meeting with, Brian Horvitz, Ph.D., a professor who has done the bulk of his teaching online since 2007.

Education in the Digital Age, March 2021, Global Ties Kalamazoo + World Learning, MRP. Image provided by Global Ties Kalamazoo

While in both photos we see smiling faces, they are not the same. Missing is the intangible, the human element during bus rides, in between meeting times, and the physical closeness that helps build a global sense of community. While our March 2021 session was virtual, we were able to bridge the gap with virtual hospitality, inviting part of the group to share in that intangible time together.

In other projects, we have offered Citizen Exchange Circles (CEC). These CECs have proven extremely valuable in getting to a deeper level of connection on a given topic between Americans and their peers from around the world.

Global Ties Kalamazoo is excited to bring what we’ve learned during the pandemic to the hybrid future that awaits us on the other side. —Written by Jodi Michaels, Executive Director, Global Ties Kalamazoo

The International Center

IVLP: Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists
March 2021
NPA: MCID Washington

Indiana was selected as a host for the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Program for Journalists, an exchange through the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) that allows international visitors to see the role of independent media in the United States. As part of their virtual visit to Indianapolis, participants from African and Caribbean countries discussed the media’s responsibility in an age of disinformation. Participating countries included Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The visitors met first with three professors from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, to discuss the school’s Observatory on Social Media (OSoMe), a research center studying the spread of misinformation, especially through social media. OSoMe combines the efforts of technology specialists with communication and media professionals to develop tools like “Hoaxy,” “Botometer” and “Botslayer” to help social media users determine the truth on social media. The group met with OSoMe leaders Filippo Menczer Ph.D., Maria Betsi Grabe Ph.D., and Elaine Monaghan, all of whom have international backgrounds themselves.

Flags of the 15 countries represented by the group at Indiana University’s campus in Bloomington, Indiana. The Media School is one of the facilitators of the OSoMe project, alongside the Network Science Institute and the Complex Networks and Systems Research at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. Image provided by International Center.

After experiencing “Hoosier Hospitality” at virtual dinners hosted by volunteers, the group continued their discussion of informative media with Side Effects Public Media, an award-winning health news service. Side Effects is heard nationally on National Public Radio (NPR) and headquartered in Indianapolis at WFYI Public Media. Their podcast, “Sick,” was awarded 1st place in 2020 for the regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, named for the same U.S. journalist who inspired the U.S. Department of State’s program that brought this group to Indiana.

The International Center was proud to share Indiana’s journalistic knowledge and unexpected international connections with this group of emerging leaders. Written by Leslie Grishin, International Visitor Programs Manager, International Center

World Affairs Council New Hampshire

IVLP: Education in the Digital Age
March 2021
NPA World Learning

In March 2021, the World Affairs Council of New Hampshire had the pleasure of organizing various International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) meetings for a project on “Education in the Digital Age” that was administered by World Learning. This project included 25 participants from more than 24 different countries from all around the world.

While every project and every group are slightly different, they all have the same foundational need to understand and know one another. So it’s unbelievable when you’re still able to create those opportunities, even in a virtual world.

We were asked to organize a meeting with the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School from Exeter, NH. They were one of three different schools in a multi-state resource meeting that compared Virtual Learning schools across the U.S. With such a large group of IVLP participants they used the Zoom breakout room feature to provide smaller more engaging conversations, while then bringing everyone back together to share at the end.

Image provided by World Affairs Council New Hampshire.

As with any project, we always strive to provide diversity in our programming. So when a last minute opportunity to work with the San Diego Diplomacy Council to bring together students of different educational levels, you jump into action! This rare opportunity provided the IVLP participants a chance to interact and engage and talk with U.S youth, on any topic! By bringing a diverse group of students our participants had a chance to meet youth from one of the largest cities in the United States to one of the smallest.

My favorite opportunity was providing a Virtual Home Hospitality Social Hour. This started with group introductions followed by two breakout sessions, where eight New Hampshire residents, and three of our IVLP participants, had the opportunity to share about their culture, learn something new from each other and really get a chance to build a bond. One of my best memories was toward the end when Miguel, a Chilean English teacher, played a Bach minuet on his cello. He requested that I record it so that his IVLP colleagues could watch it later, further strengthening the relationship between them all.

I have always seen value in these kinds of exchanges; whether it is a professional meeting with a U.S counterpart learning the challenges and success in state affairs or to an informal dinner at a local host home, where they have a chance to really share their personal story. These encounters make it possible to share the good, the bad and to learn from one another. So being able to bring that global awareness to New Hampshire just makes us a better society! Written by Anise Jasman, IVLP Program Manager, World Affairs Council New Hampshire


IVLP: Education in the Digital Age
March 2021
NPA World Learning

WorldOrlando was pleased to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) project, “Education in the Digital Age,” in March 2021. Though we miss meeting the IVLP participants in person, this project highlighted experiences that are not possible during in-person meetings. Education in the Digital Age was a multi-regional project with participants from 24 countries around the world. The participants in this project visited Orlando virtually for three different experiences. With technology becoming increasingly ingrained in our lives due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, this program looked at technological trends, new technology and existing curriculum. WorldOrlando was excited to share with the participants in both the K-12 realm, and also with adult education.

Image provided by WorldOrlando.

The first meeting brought together three different Global Ties U.S. Community-Based Members (CBMs): WorldOrlando, World Affairs Council of New Hampshire, and Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy. Each CBM had a different virtual school share in a breakout room. WorldOrlando teamed up with Florida Virtual School (FLVS). Louis Algaze Ph.D., President and CEO of FLVS met with eight participants from Brazil, Egypt, Israel, Kosovo, Malta, Poland, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. He shared with the group how FLVS began 23 years ago and have grown immensely over the years, and how with that growth, they are constantly reviewing programs to improve student learning. He explained that each year, FLVS significantly increases the classes offered and revisit existing classes to reinvent them. The IVLP group was excited to meet with FLVS as a small group, and with all of the different virtual schools as a larger group. This was a favorite meeting of mine because of the unusual circumstance of holding a meeting with several CBMs. The different perspectives from different parts of the United States could be compared and contrasted easier than when they have in person meetings.

WorldOrlando also had the pleasure of welcoming three IVLP participants from Egypt, Kosovo, and Lebanon to Orlando for Home Hospitality. We were joined by Rollins College Professor Jim Johnson, elementary teacher Maddi Levine, and student Vivianne Nieves. The group was split into several breakout rooms for their conversation and when they returned, it was obvious they had a great time!

The final meeting was a plenary session with the University of Central Florida, Division of Digital Learning. Vice Provost Thomas Cavanaugh discussed digital learning at the University, including the history of UCF being tech based, how they made the transition to completely online during the spring semester of 2020, and how digital learning will change the school in the future.

Orlando, Florida is always thought of as a beautiful place to spend your holiday but it is often forgotten that we have a strong tech community and this shines through in our educational institutes. It was a real pleasure sharing with the IVLP Education in the Digital Age. Written by Heather van Dyk, Project Manager, WorldOrlando