In this era of interconnection, disconnection, and rapid change, it is vitally important to offer young people opportunities to dialogue and build understandings with peers from different backgrounds. The Open Canopy (formerly known as Out of Eden Learn) is a free online program for students aged 3-19 that has so far served approximately 70,000 students in over 70 countries. The program offers several 8-12-week long curricula, called “learning journeys” which all follow a similar format: Students of similar ages from diverse geographical and socioeconomic settings do activities in their own local areas, then share their work on The Open Canopy’s social media-like online platform and dialogue with other students who have done the same activities, often in very different contexts.

All of the journeys combine offline activities with online interaction and invite young people to:
1. slow down to observe the world carefully and listen attentively to others;
2. share stories and perspectives; and
3. make connections to other people and their life experiences and between the artifacts and experiences of everyday life and larger global forces, stories, and systems.

In addition, The Open Canopy pedagogy offers students the opportunity to explore and produce content that they and their fellow students choose themselves and to engage in thoughtful peer-to-peer exchange.

The Open Canopy began in 2013 as an experimental collaboration with journalist and National Geographic Explorer Paul Salopek, who is currently engaged in a 21,000-mile ‘Out of Eden Walk” following the ancient pathways of human migration. It has evolved into a promising model for promoting thoughtful intercultural inquiry and exchange, drawing inspiration from the ways in which Salopek and other writers and artists interweave “slow journalism” and local and global storytelling. The Open Canopy is also an active research project that examines such themes as students’ conceptions of culture, the character of their online interactions, what they learn when they slow down to observe the world closely, and how intercultural exchange might advance young people’s understanding of the past and history. Read The Open Canopy Handbook to find out more about our pedagogy and research agenda, or explore some of our other publications. The Open Canopy is open to all schools and students, free of charge.

January 2016 Walking Parties

Students from around the world are connecting online. Out of Eden Learn launches new learning groups this month. Sign up today! 

An Introduction to Out of Eden Learn

I learned that everything is related to and interacts with each other. Nothing and Nobody can exist without others.
- Out of Eden Learn student, Z.Z, Shanghai, China

More on the Out of Eden Walk

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek is retracing on foot the global migration of our ancestors in a 21,000-mile, seven-year journey that began in Ethiopia and will end in Tierra del Fuego. Visit Out of Eden Walk to explore Paul’s journey, including maps, photographs, videos and other resources. Click here to explore Paul’s storytelling for National Geographic.


On the Trail with Out of Eden Learn and Paul Salopek: This video features journalist Paul Salopek leading students and educators in a 5-mile (8-kilometer) learning walk in Tbilisi, Georgia. In collaboration with Paul Salopek, the Out of Eden Learn team developed several slow looking and active learning exercises for students to engage in along the walk based on Paul's slow journalism and our curriculum. Click to learn more about this walk.

Project Info

Status: Active
Start Date: January 2013
Funded By: The Abundance Foundation and Global Cities Inc., a program of Bloomberg Philanthropies, with additional support from The Firehouse Fund, The National Geographic Society, and Qatar Foundation International.
Total # of Classrooms: 700+
Total # of Countries: 60+
Total Students Reached: 30,000+