As our society becomes increasingly globalized, it puts pressure on education to globalize as well. What exactly this means isn’t universally agreed upon, however. In major world markets, the business world globalized decades ago, expanding beyond domestic markets in pursuit of more diverse audiences and stronger profits. The field of education is an entirely different case, and has been much slower to follow suit.
When defining a global curriculum, one issue that must be confronted is the issue of perspective: Do we all have the same definition of global? In the context of education, global is a word that describes anything that is truly worldwide in its awareness, interdependence, and application. Right away, the scale of any such endeavor in the classroom appears intimidating, and perhaps even impossibly. How does one fit the whole world into a classroom?
This post outlines the main characteristics of global learning in the hopes that they will help teachers imagine ways to bring this valuable method to their classrooms. As globalization becomes more and more inevitable, understanding where we’re drifting might help us make adjustments as we go.
1. Local and global patterns working together. Learning that is personal and local has a greater ability for immediacy, authenticity, and responsiveness than global learning. A student connecting with an international peer set in school-to-school collaboration or reaching out to help solve global challenges must first employ self-knowledge–i.e. see themselves as thinkers, learners, and agents of both change and collaboration. This self-knowledge focus is always, of course, entirely local. The learning process may also, at times, have to be first global and then local, but the critical role of an authentic local context remains.
2. Self direction. While students can’t simply be handed an iPad and be told to go play with global peer sets, self-directed learning is becoming increasingly useful in light of the radically improved data access of the modern information age. This makes self-directed learning paramount to extracting the most out of a global curriculum.
3. Iterative and spiraled learning. Formal academic learning is often sequenced, aligned, packaged, and tightly bound. In other words, it is less accessible than global learning, which is known for being more open as the shift to global learning is made due to increased number of collaborators, increasingly complex technology, and the nature of self-directed learning in general. This makes learning that is iterative and spiraled, like the global method, more natural than other approaches.
4. Social and digital aspects. This type of learning is very obviously social, making the use of digital technology and social media fundamental tools in the process. The use of educational technology to support the globalization process is one of its most important characteristics.
5. Inclusion of other new methods. Globalization is inherently about interdependence and increased consciousness. This can happen through technology or in person, quickly or gradually–less about form and process, and more about scale and tone. This makes powerful new components, including game-based learning, mobile learning, blended learning, and challenge-based learning, all the more seamless.
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