Have you heard of IGGY? No, not that one. I mean the educational and social network for gifted students. We’re quite new, but we’re young, enthusiastic, and growing fast! Actually, we’d like you to be part of what we’re doing.
Let me tell you how it started. Created by the UK’s University of Warwick, IGGY is an educational and social network for gifted students aged 13-18. The University of Warwick has long been committed to enabling gifted young people to fulfil their potential, and the birth of IGGY.net in October 2012 played a big part in that mission. Put simply, IGGY hosts thousands of bright young minds from across the world who log-on daily to explore interactive learning resources created by academics, and to connect with gifted teenagers like themselves. You can take a look at a video about our first year to learn more. We made it with help from members, teachers, and parents, who all had something to say about how IGGY had played a part in their lives.
We work with academics at the university and other leading institutions to develop stimulating and interactive content in core areas of maths; science; history and politics; creative writing and life skills (and occasionally other subjects), which we publish on the site. Members are rewarded for taking part in challenges by earning points, badges, and occasionally ‘real life’ prizes.
Members create their own profile, add friends, send messages, publish blogs, and up-vote posts; features that have led IGGY to be known as ‘the thinking teenager’s Facebook’. This is a neat headline that captures both the social and educational aspects of IGGY, but it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Another major focus of IGGY’s is to create a safe and secure place for young people, which we make sure of with our extensive safety measures.
Also, IGGY is all about connecting young people and challenging them to reach their potential, and IGGY’s support network reflects that. Postgraduate Student Mentors and IGGY’s Community Manager are on the site full time, ensuring that members are supported and guided in all elements of life and learning. Gifted young people can feel isolated at school because they are often singled out due to their intelligence, and so IGGY provides a space where they can be themselves and reach out to people like them from across the globe. Naomi, 14, has been an IGGY member since our online launch back in November 2012. She says:
“Joining IGGY has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It has enabled my love of learning to flourish, and has given me a perfect, safe community where I can interact with other like-minded teenagers without being judged.”
If one IGGY member is stuck with a problem in their work, another member will invariably step in on the site to help out. How great is that? One school local to where we are (Coventry, UK) has even reported that being part of IGGY has improved communication between year groups. The school runs an ‘IGGY Breakfast Club’ in the library where the IGGY Members come along before to explore the site together, and we’ve heard reports of the ‘older kids’ mentoring the ‘younger kids’ with their IGGY work. That’s a real life success that we hadn’t predicted!
Our IGGY Members are also able to collaborate on challenges, online and in person. Our Junior Commission is a good example of this – it’s a yearlong project in which 10 IGGY Members from across the world are selected to work together to tackle a specific topical issue. This year they are working on issues around ‘Education and the Internet’ and are almost ready to start writing up their report. We find that the ability to explore and learn together enables the young people to reach a much higher level of critical thinking, and really inspires independent learning.
Hopefully now you have a better idea of what this IGGY is! As I said, we’d like you to get involved – here’s how:
Come and pay us a visit anytime at www.IGGY.net and drop us a line if you have any questions: membership@IGGY.net