Hella Richter-Glinos, Educator/User
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What is Composer?
What we do?
Composer is the first digital platform to offer educators a comprehensive collection of resources for citizenship education. Composer was founded in 2018 as a collaborative initiative between High Resolves, Facing History and Ourselves, iCivics, Generation Citizen, and Peace First for teaching citizenship through civics, social justice, social and emotional learning, and global competence. Composer features 1,000 learning experiences from dozens of the world’s leading content providers. The platform is grounded in learning science to support educators with curriculum planning. In Fall 2019, 455 users from 113 schools across North America and Australia participated in a private beta of the platform. Since launching in April 2020, Composer is publicly available as a free tool for educators. This initiative is supported by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Imaginable Futures, a venture of the Omidyar Group.
Composer is a global platform with a breadth of high quality and diverse content that is designed to build the collective reach of content providers supporting educators in their implementation of citizenship education in classrooms around the world.
Composer is a one-stop-shop for curricula and resources in citizenship education. We have curated nearly 1,000 of the best individual learning experiences available for schools to design the most powerful learning experiences we call strings. These include web lessons, interactive simulations, experiential games, and guides for discussion and reflection. For example, schools can search for “racism” and find all strings designed by providers or used by schools to inoculate against racism.
Composer has four primary functions: Discover, Search, Create, and Coordinate. Educators can:
- Discover relevant and timely learning experiences for young people, professional development for educators, and other citizenship education resources.
- Search and favorite lessons, activities and powerful sequences of learning experiences ("strings") in citizenship education.
- Create and adapt customized sequences of learning experiences (“strings”) and receive real-time feedback on curriculum design.
- Coordinate logistics and download curriculum in preparation for delivery.
Composer integrates learning science into curriculum planning: One of the core functions of the platform is to provide a fully integrated system for building mastery of the core competencies of citizenship. We have incorporated into the design-interface heuristic rules and prompts that draw on learning science to enhance the quality of curriculum design.
- The platform prompts users to create “strings,” sequences of different learning experiences, arranged in the right ratio and sequence to have lasting impact, and to change behaviors and outlooks among students.
- Each “string” kick starts the learning journey with a “peak experience,” an out of the ordinary, memorable, and engaging intervention such as a powerful film or immersive workshop.
- The string then helps students build a deeper understanding of those ideas and skills through repeated practice within a classroom setting. It then provides opportunities for students to put their knowledge into practice through real-world applications such as community projects.
- The platform uses a sophisticated algorithm to curate and optimize content based on this common framework that is illustrated using a simple visual language of three “element” types: peak experiences (triangle), repeated practice (square), and real-world application (circle).
Composer is building an ecosystem for citizenship education: Composer was built through a collaborative partnership among five founding providers, recognized for their commitment to excellence in citizenship education: High Resolves, Facing History and Ourselves, iCivics, Generation Citizen, and Peace First. These providers represent the initial core group behind a growing, collaborative ecosystem that now includes more than two dozen of the best content providers from around the world.
Why we do it?
Now more than ever, we must prepare young people to be engaged citizens, inspired to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Composer believes the knowledge, mindsets, and skills that enable effective citizenship can and should be taught as systematically as we teach math and literacy. No educator can do this alone. No school can do this alone. No organization can do this alone. The scale of the challenge requires a collective and practical approach.
What is citizenship education?
Citizenship education empowers and supports students in becoming better citizens through the teaching of civics, social justice, social and emotional learning, and global competence.
Education that equips the next generation with the knowledge, tools, and dispositions needed to act for the wellbeing of themselves, their communities, and the planet.