Student Global Collaboration

I am currently undertaking some study in the area of “Flat Learning” and examining the ways in which we can implement meaningful global collaborations into my classroom and into the classrooms of my peers. As an element of my study I am in the process of completing a quad-blogging assignment looking at the following question:

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Why should educators be connecting their students globally? What literature, research and opinions can you gather and synthesise to support an argument for this?

It is fair to say that the educators of 2015 and beyond are tasked with a very different job description than those of even 10 years ago. As the world we live in evolves at a rate that is challenging to stay in touch with, it is critical that our education system and what we are teaching our children does the same. No longer is it enough to be disseminators of information, using “chalk and talk” as the medium to which we educate our students. No longer is it enough to teach our students to read and write and learn arithmetic. The students of today will be graduating into a vastly different world, they will be entering a global society which requires them to be “proficient communicators, creators, critical thinkers, and collaborators” (National Education Association 2015). Our students need to be armed with the skills to manage a work life balance in a world where everyone is connected 24/7.

Life today is exponentially more complicated and complex than it was 50 years ago. This is true for civic life as much as it is for work life. In the 21st century, citizenship requires levels of information and technological literacy that go far beyond the basic knowledge that was sufficient in the past. With a host of challenges facing our communities, along with instant connectivity to a global society, civic literacy couldn’t be more relevant or applicable to the curricula in our schools… The rapid decline in “routine” work has been well documented by many researchers and organizations. At the same time, there has been a rapid increase in jobs involving nonroutine, analytic, and interactive communication skills. Today’s job market requires competencies such as critical thinking and the ability to interact with people from many linguistic and cultural backgrounds (cultural competency). (National Education Association 2015) http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/A-Guide-to-Four-Cs.pdf

Our students are going to be the programmers and policy writers of the future, they will be the people who are trying to solve some of the world’s most complicated problems such as global warming, the refugee crisis, financial meltdowns and dealing with an exponentially growing technological world. But no longer can the people of one country tackle these tasks alone.

“The world faces global challenges, which require global solutions. These interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act for the dignity of fellow human beings.”“It is not enough for education to produce individuals who can read, write and count.”“Education must be transformative and bring shared values to life. It must cultivate an active care for the world and for those with whom we share it. Education must also be relevant in answering the big questions of the day.”“Technological solutions, political regulation or financial instruments alone cannot achieve sustainable development. It requires transforming the way people think and act.”“Education must fully assume its central role in helping people to forge more just, peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies. It must give people the understanding, skills and values they need to cooperate in resolving the interconnected challenges of the 21st century.” (United World Schools 2015)

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However in order to prepare our students for the life that lay ahead of them, we need to acknowledge the needs of a 21st Century Learner. We need to ensure they are self-directed learners, globally aware, communicators, problem solvers, critical and creative thinkers, civically engaged, collaborators, information and media literate, financially and economically literate and innovative. “Advocates of 21st century skills favor student-centered methods—for example, problem-based learning and project-based learning—that allow students to collaborate, work on authentic problems, and engage with the community” (Rotherham and Willingham, 2009). As educators we need to be providing our students with opportunities to participate in well designed and planned collaborative learning experiences, not just within the four walls of our classrooms but globally.

“Doing so engages students, furthers their learning, improves intercultural awareness, and connects them to the contributions of diverse and valued cultures… The potential power of combined talents between nations could greatly improve the amount of knowledge and possible solutions to these global problems.” (http://www.connectallschools.org/node/132293 2009)

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