Prosocial behavior

A New Generation of Social Activists


Photo Credit: Brittney Maki via Flickr(CC 2.0)

Social activism has undergone a transformation, producing  a new generation of digital activists.  With the use of social media and web based tools, young people are now a driving force behind social change.

The internet, and its crowdsourcing abilities have enabled students to foster social awareness, connect to people worldwide, and most importantly create action.

Whether it is fundraising for the local humane society, or creating a blog to raise awareness, incorporating prosocial themes into classroom lessons will cultivate altruism, empathy, and respect, while reinforcing the idea that the small efforts of individuals will fuel large scale change.

Web resources to help integrate social justice into your curriculum:

ClassDojo– The Harvard Graduate School of Education has partnered with Class Dojo to promote empathy training in the classroom.  Launched on Oct. 2, Class Dojo has introduced an original series of animated videos aimed at increasing empathy awareness and an understanding of growth mindset.

For more information on ClassDojo “Big Ideas,” please visit and

Teaching for Change– Using meaningful, real-world issues, Teaching for Change inspires students and teachers to become active in creating a socially just society.

Teaching Tolerance– A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance is a web resource for educators to promote respect, equity, and cultural understanding.  Along with quality lesson plans and professional development, Teaching Tolerance provides guidance and materials for easy implementation of school wide programs relating to social justice.

Heifer International– Heifer International has a clear mission– to end world hunger and poverty by providing families with the tools they need to become self-sustaining. With a simple click of the mouse, we can get involved by funding local projects that bring about real sustainable change.

We Give Books-Created by the Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation, We Give Books offers a wide variety of free digital books for elementary students.  The reading efforts of students are converted into donations made to charity partners.


Web 2.0: Fostering Prosocial Behavior in Students

 Many consider technology a solitary activity where students simply consume information. Attached to their devices by headphones paints a picture of being enveloped in a lonely tech world where interaction is limited.

Web 2.0 and social media has redefined the way we teach and learn.The new generation of the internet is now a creative palate for users to contribute, create, and collaborate. The read-write web and its social characteristics are ideal to foster pro-social behaviors in the classroom. Empathy, altruism, and social awareness can be interwoven into lessons with technology components.

  • The collaborative nature of web 2.0 tools can guide students in positive interactions with others.
  • Social media, with the guidance of the teacher, can raise social awareness and contribute to the understanding of other perspectives.
  • Simple video chat tools such as Skype can raise global awareness by offering students face to face time with individuals with varied views.
  •  Wiki spaces provided a kindergarten class a photo exchange with a school in China, allowing students an authentic glimpse of a different culture.
  • Technology tools used within project and problem based learning environments can be premised on social projects and can bridge school and community.