We can do global learning on campus without having to go abroad, so that means we can also do it online, too.
Global learning isn’t about what you learn or where you learn, it’s about how you learn. Global learning is a process that engages diverse students and their diverse perspectives in collaborative efforts to analyze and address complex problems that transcend borders of difference (Landorf & Doscher, 2015).
Global learning and online learning share three fundamentals of good curriculum design. You can do global learning online with the students in your class or with international partners through Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) or virtual exchange. Here are those fundamentals, with links tools and resources:
Global Perspective: Establish Social Presence
A global perspective is the ability to conduct a multi-perspective analysis of a complex question, challenge, or problem. The first steps in developing a global perspective involve gaining perspective consciousness, insight into the unique and common qualities between one’s own knowledge, skills, and assumptions and those of others (Hanvey, 1982). Comfort and trust around self-expression in an online community is known as social presence. You can simultaneously develop social presence and a global perspective through asynchronous or synchronous activities that call on students to share how they approach their lives and work. You can use icebreaker activities throughout the course, encourage digital storytelling through pictures, videos, podcasts, blogs, or animation. Encourage students to connect through creativity, and you can ignite a passion for connecting with peers and with course content.
Global Awareness: Structure Interdependence
Build on social presence by designing for global awareness. We do this by designing interdependent collaborative learning tasks that demand the diverse contributions of everyone in the group or class. There’s a great book that teaches you how to do this called Learning to Collaborate, Collaborating to Learn by Janet Salmons—you can view an excerpt here. Have students take on team roles or engage them in role play. Use collaboration tools like Perusall that lets groups annotate readings together or Slack for collaborative project management. Provide evaluation criteria that define your expectations for collaboration or have students establish expectations that meet their team’s diverse needs.
Global Engagement: Promote Connection Making
Finally, put it all together by having your students make connections between course content and the world around them. You will spark global engagement, even online, when you ask students to link notions of the local and global, the individual and collective, what is known and not known, what separates us and what binds us together, what is considered close and far away, and diverse parts of an idea to the whole. Challenge students to find relationships among perspectives and concepts they previously thought completely disconnected or to combine parts of ideas they previously thought uncombinable. You can do this by designing collaborative discussion boards and giving students explicit directions for writing responses that relationships between ideas. Have groups of students create mind maps on white boards or with apps like Miro. Most importantly, have students reflect frequently on their learning, drawing connections between course content and their own personal, professional, and civic lives.
The best part is that when return to our campuses we can retain these fundamental dynamics and tools and provide better global learning for all.