by Helen Marx and Greg McVerry
The Internet has opened new pathways around the globe and transformed the way we read, write and collaborate. In addition, new social practices have emerged that have redefined community.
At the same time, business, social, and political leaders have called for greater global awareness. In fact, the fate of humanity may lie in the ability of future generations to solve problems together on a global scale. This in turn requires us to rethink the social practices of literacy that we teach in the classroom. Classroom teachers can shape the leaders of tomorrow by teaching online collaborative inquiry through global education initiatives.
Literacy educators need to place online collaborative inquiry, which is the ability for a group of local or global participants to reach a solution through multiple pathways of knowledge, at the cornerstone of their digital text and tools curriculum. Without online collaborative inquiry, young authors and readers cannot fully harness the power of the Internet. The surest method to incorporate online collaborative inquiry into the classroom is through global education.
Three Principles of Global Education
Three principles guide our understanding of Global Education. These goals will unite our communities, require students to consider multiple perspectives, and utilize interpersonal communications skills.
1. Considering Global Connections
First, Global Education requires students to think about knowledge and issues in an interconnected and systematic way and to consider how local and regional realities might have larger, global connections. To illustrate, in the video below Chief Almir uses new technology to share his tribe’s story with the world while protecting important national resources.
Imagine bringing that power to your classroom. A group of dedicated individuals living deep in the Rain Forest changed their world for the better. What can you do with your students?
2. Examining Cultural Perspectives
The second Global Education principle asks students to explore their own culturally bounded understandings and to consider the ways culture can influence one's perspectives and value systems. The key to the second principle is to do more than simply read a book that has a picture of a child from another country on the cover. Teachers must go beyond simply having students hang flags or prepare local flavors of the country du jour.
For example the GlobalEd 2 project hosted by the University of Connecticut and the University of Illinois at Chicago asks students to role play as members of different cultures and countries while solving real world problems. Learners across the United States must attempt to understand how others might view the issue and, in the process, challenge their own beliefs while engaging in science curriculum and content area reading.
3. Applying New Skills and Knowledge
Finally Global Education focuses on an array of interpersonal communication skills needed to function within increasing culturally diverse and technologically complex contexts. The world economy revolves around the flow of information in a new digital world. This world requires students to utilize new knowledge and skills in order to engage in literary practices necessary for global citizenship. Through online collaboration and the creation of truly international and cross-cultural online communities, students can begin to develop and practice these vital interpersonal skills.
Three Pathways to Global Education
Educators can find vast resources if they want to get involved with a Global Education project. Like most inquiries we began our hunt on Twitter. Using the hashtag #GlobalEd we connected with many teachers, found daily newspapers published by curators, and links to many initiatives. Below we share just three.
1. Photo Essays
Your students do not have to engage with others to build on the three principles of Global Education. You can collaborate in your classroom on photo essays. First start by reading some of the powerful photo essays published by the Carolina Navigators. As a class discuss the essays. Make sure to focus on the cultural beliefs embedded in the essay. Discuss how these beliefs are reflected in the chosen photos. Then have students use presentation software or a movie maker to create their own essay.
2. i-Spy in the Community
i-Spy in the Community is a Global Education project for students in grades K-3. It revolves around the essential question, “How do you know that you are part of a community?” Students investigate their communities and share what they elarn with the world using VoiceThread. The project wiki has detailed lesson plans and contact information to get involved.
3. Global Education Conference
Interested in learning more about Global Education? Want to meet other educators to share ideas or discover a collaboration project? Then we encourage you to attend the free online Global Education Conference. The conference is November 12 to17. The goal of the conference is to foster a world wide community of teachers committed to Global Education.
Ultimately, we have an obligation to our students to make sure they can understand and address problems with a global perspective. This will not only require new skills and practices, but more fundamentally a keen understanding of diverse perspectives and belief systems. In order to meet this call, we implore you to set a goal of engaging students in online collaborative inquiry through Global Education.
Helen Marx and Greg McVerry are from Southern Connecticut State University.
This article is part of a series from the International Reading Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).