Today’s students are at an advantage when they experience other cultures and develop skills in a connected world. They are better prepared to be productive and compassionate citizens in an increasingly global economy, and they are able to improve their communication skills, collaborate effectively and be ready for multicultural workspaces.
In her book, The Global Educator, Julie Lindsay illustrates the need for intercultural understanding and collaboration to personalize learning, achieve curriculum objectives and bring the world to our students.
In the excerpt blow, she shares some of the benefits students and teachers derive from connecting globally.
Authentic Learning with Real-World Partners
Students who learn in a global classroom expect to have different (and real) learning partners of all ages. They also expect to have an authentic audience for their products and produce artifacts that include blog posts, videos, images, and more. This is beyond textbook learning—the students become the textbook! What will provide more up-to-date information about a global occurrence, a historical event, or a current issue? A textbook—or interaction and collaboration with others involved in and related to the information being sought?
During the Flat Connections “A Week in the Life” project from February to June 2015 (upper elementary global issues project), a major earthquake hit Nepal. The Kathmandu school in the project, Lincoln School, was naturally affected, and both students and teachers in the project learned by direct contact and conversations about this impact on life and school for that community. This experiential and global learning is profound in many ways.
Kim, Thailand, tells us, “My students have an authentic audience of other students around the world for their work. They regularly share their thinking with other students in other parts of the world, get feedback on their work and offer feedback on theirs” (Kim Cofino, @mscofino).Tracey, USA says, “A more connected world. Kids work harder when their assignment is meaningful and authentic. I hope kids on both sides of the collaboration learn from one another. I hope the students take charge of their own learning and I merely facilitate” (Tracey Winey, @premediawine). Marianne, USA, also tells us, “My current leadership demonstrates they have little value for my international connections. My students, however, are very cognizant that I am connected with lots of interesting educators and that their work has an international audience. They are extremely excited that a game they developed was played in an Australian classroom. Occasionally, my students present via virtual worlds to international audiences; it’s a huge thrill for them to have their work see that kind of reach” (Marianne Malmstrom, @knowclue).
Ann’s students in Norway learn about social entrepreneurship and how to best help and solve global problems through making vital connections with a school in Lesotho. After devoting a day in Norway to raise funds to help rebuild the African school, seeds of understanding were sown among the students about the rest of world. The reality is that one day of work for a Norwegian can provide a one-year education scholarship for a Lesotho student. The new buildings, including technology, will be done by 2016. Read more about this in Case Study 2.5.
Julio from Venezuela says, “My students begin to discover a world of opportunities. For many of these, school is their only hope. Thanks to our project called Global School, we managed to win at least their hearts so that they can begin to believe that they can have a future” (Julio Rojas). Kevin, USA, states, “Preparing them for the future of work—that should ultimately be a global experience” (Kevin Cojanu).
Interest in Travel and International Study
“Many students become interested in travelling and leaving Lebanon when they see the better options in higher education and work opportunities,” says Mahmud Shihab in Lebanon, while Tina, in the USA, says, “Our connections with other countries have made that country come alive for my students instead of it being just a spot on the map that they read about” (Tina Schmidt, @MrsSchmidtB4).
Digital tools and the fluency needed to implement and manage them provide the bridge for students to learn about the frustrations and excitement of communicating and co-creating with people who are different and far away. Ann, Australia, tells us, “For my students they have been impacted by communicating with people from overseas using technology. They learnt about the frustrations and the excitement of communication and co-creating with people who were new and different, and also discovered similarities in online conferences using Fuze.com” (Ann Rooney, @annrooney6). Felipe tells us, “The company I work for looks after nearly 400K students in Brazil. Being a global mind-set educator enables you to have some interesting insights and to benefit from them too. Recently, through our partnership with Intel Education, we managed to pilot an initiative with Intel tablets powered with a classroom management system of another partner, and it was a huge success. This is one example of the impact you can make in the life of students, we’ve got many others!” (Felipe Mileo).
Lead your students on the road to global understanding. Order The Global Educator today, and start making international connections.