With his passion to provide young learners the opportunity to become active agents of change, Mr. Francis Jim Tuscano, a Master of Distance Education student in the Faculty of Education (FEd), University of the Philippines Open University (UPOU) developed his own project Kids Can! Innovation Camp . The project has been recognized by two international organizations, including the International Literacy Association (ILA) and the HundrED Organization.
The International Literacy Association (ILA) is a global advocacy organization with over 300,000 literacy educators and researchers as members across 86 countries. ILA aims to empower students and educators for literacy accessibility, and the organization’s annual 30 Under 30 list honors emerging pioneers and visionaries in the literacy field. Kids Can! Innovation Camp was chosen as one of the International Literacy Association’s (ILA) 2019 30 Under 30. The awarding will happen during the International Literacy Association 2019 Conference on October 10-13, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The project was also recognized by the HundrED Organization as one of the top ten K-12 Education Innovations across the world. The HundrED Organization is a non-profit organization based in Finland which aims to improve education by seeking, honoring, and sharing inspiring and ambitious K-12 Innovations around the world.
Mr. Tuscano’s project Kids Can! Innovation Camp started out as an inter-club synergy in Xavier School. The project provided an opportunity for students to work on projects that aim to develop solutions to global, social and environmental problems. Through the passion of the students in using technology, they were able to produce information campaigns, prototypes of new machines, and even developed online games and mobile applications. Because of his desire to bring out the innovators in young learners, he was inspired to develop his project and take it globally, eventually giving birth to the Global Innovation Camp.
In 2018, Innovation Camp provided 90 schools and around 2000 students and teachers from 20 countries to become critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers as they participated in the project. Still wanting to improve the project, he collaborated with educators from all over the world again and eventually translated the resources for the Innovation Camp into 11 international languages, including Chinese Mandarin, Bahasa Melayu, Hindi, Korean, Polish, Spanish, and Serbian for the young students who will be undergoing it.
Promoting global learning through the power of technology was one of the things Mr. Tuscano learned in his journey as an MDE student. His desire to learn in an open university where flexibility, independent learning, and accountability are balanced is what drew him to pursue MDE in UPOU. “UPOU has helped me make better decisions or actions towards technology in the classroom,” Mr. Tuscano stated.
While studying in UPOU, he learned to value the importance of working and collaborating with his fellow UPOU students. His MDE classmate based in Malaysia, Dr. Roy Marzo even became one of the Kids Can! translators and ambassadors. “Despite the great distance separating me from some of my classmates,” according to Mr. Tuscano, “I learned to collaborate with them and even become friends with them. They became my “online learning” friends who help and inspire me to be a better UPOU student and teacher in my class.”