Today ClassDojo and Making Caring Common (MCC), a project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), announced an initiative designed to help millions of students worldwide learn about the power of empathy. Through the collaboration, ClassDojo and HGSE MCC created an original series of animated, short films along with discussion guides that will be available to all teachers, parents, and students on ClassDojo.
With more than two-thirds of U.S. schools and 180 countries having joined ClassDojo, the collaboration is an opportunity to bring the concept of empathy to tens of millions of students. It’s the latest in the company’s expansion into a platform connecting classrooms with content.
Available online and in-app, ClassDojo’s original series – “Big Ideas” – launched earlier this year as a way to help teachers and parents bring transformative ideas into the classroom and home. The first season, developed in partnership with Stanford PERTS, focused on the topic of Growth Mindset and has been viewed by one in four students in the U.S. since its debut in January.
According to the World Economic Forum, emotional intelligence and empathy will be among the top 10 social-emotional skills needed for the 2020 job market. And yet, according to one study, empathy is on the decline, with college students showing a 40% drop in the trait over the past 30 years.
“Empathy is at the heart of what it means to be human,” said Richard Weissbourd, EdD, faculty director of Making Caring Common and senior lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “It’s a foundation for acting ethically, for strong relationships, and for professional success. It’s also key to preventing bullying and many other forms of cruelty. We’re excited that this video series will convey that message to younger children on a large scale in a fun and accessible format.”
As with the first season on Growth Mindset, the Empathy series features Pixar-like animated video shorts that star ClassDojo’s monsters – Mojo, Katie, and their friends – as they prepare for a school play that has everyone preoccupied with their own concerns. Each video is paired with a set of projects and discussion guides for class and home, to help students build a deeper understanding of the concept of empathy.
“Every parent wants to help their child learn the skills and character strengths that matter most in life, so they can become whatever it is they dream of,” said Cashawn Norment, a parent in Delaware. “The ClassDojo videos are such an incredible, simple way to do that. At home we’ll often watch and discuss them at bedtime, relating the challenges Mojo and the monsters face to challenges my son is feeling as well. This series and the discussions we’ve had have made a huge difference for our family – I hope every parent tries them out to see the difference they can make for their children too.”
The first video will be available for teachers, parents, and students on October 2, with the other two following weekly. The release is timed to take place during National Bullying Prevention Month so teachers and parents can help kids understand the important role empathy plays in the understanding and acceptance of others. A trailer for the video series will be available on September 22 as part of Character Day, a worldwide initiative to help millions of people explore the importance of building character strengths through various activities.
“When we first decided to explore the idea of connecting classrooms with content through our ‘Big Ideas: Growth Mindset’ series, we hoped teachers would love them, but we had no idea the reaction would be as big as it has been,” said Liam Don, co-founder of ClassDojo. “Teachers and parents emailed us before the series had even finished, asking when the next would come out. It made it very clear to us that there’s a real need for easy to use, engaging content in the classroom, and at home. We’re delighted to collaborate with Making Caring Common for this season of the ‘Big Ideas’ videos – together, we hope to help millions of kids develop empathy.”