Out of Eden Learn

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Out of Eden Learn Website Poster Image
Kids get a broader view of the world and their place in it.

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Educational Value

Kids can learn about other cultures, practice sharing and assessing information, and should gain perspective about the world. Site activities encourage them to focus on observing their surroundings, listening to others, expressing themselves, and relating their own experiences to other experiences, which can serve as an example of understanding how things relate and differ. Kids will also get practice reading and writing. The site content actually touches on a number of school subjects--kids will learn about geography, history, and other topics as they strengthen their communication skills.

Positive Messages

Collective learning experiences emphasize differences that make us unique, and commonalities we can relate to.


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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Out of Eden Learn's free online multi-week program combines activities and interaction with kids who are a similar age from around the world. The site suggests kids will spend a reasonable amount of time -- one to two hours -- a week on the work. Kids who are 10 or older can create their own account and post responses and comments to the site, which will only be visible to other participants in their group. Sessions generally start in certain months, so kids may need to wait awhile for a learning program to begin. They’ll also need a class code from their teacher to participate. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content on the site.

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What's it about?

OUT OF EDEN LEARN, an initiative from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, provides a free online program for students age 3-19 that builds on experiences from a journalist’s 21,000-mile walk following the ancient pathways of human migration. Similarly aged students from diverse geographical and socioeconomic settings partake in 8- to 12-week collective learning experiences designed to encourage them to observe the world, where they exchange stories and make connections between their lives and other perspectives.

Is it any good?

This learning platform combines offline activities -- which it calls footsteps -- and online interaction with other members of your walking party, or learning community. Kids using Out of Eden Learn discover aspects of journalist Paul Salopek's Out of Eden Walk, which was designed to trace the pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age. Here, kids will perform themed activities and interact with each other. The courses challenge participants to examine and describe their surroundings, explore how their lives connect to the past and the rest of the world, and learn about human migration and planetary health. The overall experience is designed to help young people become more informed, thoughtful, and engaged global citizens.

Although the site says it welcomes individual students as well as school classes and clubs, the login prompt requires a school code that educators receive after their class has been registered and assigned to a walking party -- which kids trying to access the site as a solo user will probably find frustrating. In addition, because the course materials were designed for middle- and high school-aged students, parents might need to revise some of the lessons and/or plan to work closely with younger kids to ensure they’re getting the most out of the experience. But if kids can arrange to get access and are able to navigate the content, Out of Eden Learn can provide a unique, engaging experience that can make them appreciate other cultures -- and their immediate environment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about making a commitment to see the entire Out of Eden Learn course through. Can your child agree to complete all weeks of the program?

  • What similarities in day-to-day life has your child noticed some other participants experience between your life and those of kids in other countries?

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