Tag Archives: Global Education

My Student Uses Digital Story Skills to Solve the World Problems!

Recently, our Director of Global Initiatives, Michael Roemer, Ph.D. issued a challenge to our children: “Is the World Capable of sustaining 10 billion people (a number we are anticipated to reach in the near future). My student answered the challenge with her own video response:

Congratulations young lady! I’m so proud to be your teacher!

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Students – the Connected Learning Model

Tomorrow I present at TVS’s SummerSpark on the Connected Learning Model for Students. I’ve been wracking my brains and trying to organize my thoughts. I created a Prezi to guide my discussion – hoping that will keep me on task. I’ve got so many thoughts, it’s putting them together coherently that’s problematic.

Here are the main topics I’m planning to address:

Should Students Be Online & Involved in Social Media?

It’s a rather redundant topic. To be fair, this is like asking “Should the horse be outside of the barn?” when the door’s been open and it’s been wandering around the pasture for a few days. The internet isn’t a ‘fad’ and it’s not ‘the future,’ it’s the now. It’s like asking “Should students learn how to use a typewriter?”

What Are the Benefits?

When students are connected (via social media like twitter, wikis, facebook, etc), it facilitates communication, provides a platform for creativity, writing, and assessment skills. Can it be abused? Of course. You can use a hammer to bash in someone’s head, but it’s also really handy for hammering in nails.

What are the risks for students engaging online?

There are some very real and some more ‘perceived’ threats. The first one that comes to mind is online predators. The reality is that the risk from online predators is significantly smaller than we originally thought. Children seem to be quite savvy and understand the stranger in the darkness. The reality is that they are at greater risk driving in the car to school than they are in participating in Facebook or Twitter.

Another very real danger is cyber-bullying. It is a very true and sad reality that bullying, with the aid of social networking, cell phones, and other devices is on the rise. Children and, in some disturbing circumstances, parents have attacked teens online. The outcomes in some cases have been devastating. However, along with the rise of cyber-bullying, we’ve seen a counter-wave – the media, peers, and educators are aware of the problem and taking proactive stances to address it. My school is implementing the Olweus program, which includes a component that addresses online bullying behavior. Another more prominent force is the “It Gets Better” campaign, that has picked up support and interest.

Another key element, for both children and adults, is the production of digital fooprint – which can be positive or negative. Your digital footprint is your online self. Have you googled yourself lately? Try it, see what comes up. I try to keep on top of what I put out there. Teens are less likely to do so and ‘funny pictures’ or comments now aren’t so amusing when it shows up in a job interview.

Students are already on Social Media

Really, the decision isn’t ours – they’re already there. Students are on social media websites, it’s up to us as educators to help guide them to use them responsibly. One study found that 96% of students are already using Facebook. One-third of students report having their own blog (the majority of which update them at least once a week). Surprisingly, 59% of them report that they use social media for school related projects or to talk about school – I’m just going to pretend that none of that time is used to complain about class.

However, even though students are ahead on the curve, educators and teachers are not. The majority of school districts and administrators do not provide any type of direction or tools for students or educators to use. Most teachers are on their own in exploring this platform and face difficult navigation when it comes to interacting with their students online.

The reality is that this is a platform with which young people are comfortable. Most of them get their news via Facebook or Twitter. Before you jump all over that, I learned about the repeal of proposition 8 nearly twenty minutes before the formal announcement and the death of Osama bin Laden forty-five minutes before President Obama announced it on television. Let’s not forget watching the uprisings in Libya and Egypt rolling out before us via Social Media platforms. Their ease of use and intuitive interface provide such a low learning curve that almost anyone can self-teach and be up and using within minutes.

What barriers do we face using these platforms for education?

No one needs to convince me that social media is a powerful learning tool. However, that doesn’t belie the fact that there are numerous barriers to employing them in the classroom or even at home.

One key elements is parents. How do we convince parents to allow their child online? While most parents are okay with their child having a Facebook account or even a twitter, many are still nervous about ‘strangers’ online and the ‘stranger danger’ phenomenon still has many of them in death grips.

Another element is access – not all students have ready access to the internet at home. While few families do not have internet in the home, it does happen or, more commonly, it could be limited to one machine. Additionally, children may be in a home where parents limit access to the internet. I have had a few students whose parents only allowed them online when they were at home and present. Even those of us in the most privileged schools may also have limitations to access on our campuses. I’m a ‘floating’ teacher – most of my rooms did not have computers and the computer lab was not always available.

Another consideration, even if you have computer access, is web access. Most schools have some form of restriction placed on their network. My school’s network is so restrictive that if a vulgar word shows up in the comment of a news article, it can trigger the ‘porn’ barrier. Facebook and twitter are commonly barred as are many other sites that create and publish wikis, YouTube videos, and the like. Some of these are barred due to issues of bandwidth or abuse, some (like facebook) are barred because they’re viewed as a distraction (ignoring the fact that cell phones and proxy sites allow ready access). Some schools have no restrictions, but these are far and few between.

And another strong concern is the issue of monitoring. I know that I for one don’t like to think about what my students get away with now in the classroom (and I’m sure it’s far more than I would like to know). Twenty-five or more (sometimes a lot more) students in a classroom with computers, it can be a problematic classroom management issue. If you have children in your class that are prone to chat with their friends, pass notes, talk out of turn, etc, then they will be more than a handful if you give them access to a machine. However, many will excel and focus when allowed to pursue their passions in the classroom on a platform they find fun…

So, these are the highlights of my presentation. It’s primary objective is to introduce ideas and pitfalls with the hopes of provoking discussion and thought. If you have any thoughts or ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Infographic – U.S. Education vs. the World

Thanks to my twitter colleague @MrPotter (not of Harry Potter fame), I have come across a great infographic that demonstrates how much money the US spends on education and the type of results we get (spoiler: it’s a lot of money and not much). It truly highlights our need to look at other models for success and that the key isn’t paying teachers less or upping administrative costs. You can read the full post here U.S. Education vs. the World.

National Geographic – Education Section

Recently, the National Geographic webpage unveiled its Education page. It’s amazing! There are so many resources for teachers: custom maps, projects, lesson plans, ways for your students to get involved, articles on current theories in education (like Global Ed), etc. A great resource for Social Science teachers (like myself).

Check it out here

Providence Day Third Annual Global Educators Conference at La Jolla Country Day School

Last night, I finally returned home from the third annual Global Educators Conference that was held at La Jolla Country Day School. It was an amazing experience with wonderful break out sessions, key note speeches, and an exchange of ideas with likeminded educators. It was truly one of the best professional develop experiences of my career.

The conference focused on a variety of ideas, largely concepts of: building international relationships with other schools and communities (e.g. Sister Schools and cities), developing international service projects, and directly incorporating a school’s global mission to the curriculum; it’s not about going on a site seeing tour of France, it’s about home-stays, service, and true cultural understanding.

We were able see the implementation of many different programs: some were schools that were founded on these philosophies, with international travel a mandatory component for all students and staff; other schools (like ours) were still in the infancy of their programs; most were somewhere in between.

There were many independent, not and for profit organizations that also shared their services with us. I’ve listed some great resources for people below:

Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy – MML is the pinnacle of language immersion study for both students and language staff. In addition to their summer programs, they also provide distance, online learning and, being fully accredited, students receive academic credit towards graduation and for college.
Computer Using Educators (CUE) – A California based group, if you’re an educator that’s interested in technology you must seek out CUE. They specialized in pedagogy, training, and policy.
Magellan Study Abroad – Magellan specializes in exchange programs with schools. They will help you build your itinerary, manage your travel arrangements, provide your insurance policies (for all you risk managers), and utilize their own contacts to provide cultural experiences (i.e. a day in a local high school or learning how to cook an ethnic meal, etc)
Global Works – another travel organization, this one focuses on building and developing service based projects for your students and staff. You can organize a trip to Costa Rica where your students work with the habitat for humanity program or journey to China and volunteer in an orphanage. Like Magellan, they arrange travel, home-stays, insurance, and local cultural experiences.
The Sage Program – develops semester and yearlong programs, custom service exchanges, gap-year trips, and custom group programs.

These programs are just the tip of the iceberg. Global Education is the new 21st century model and, as such, we will see more and more programs develop.

Some Additional Resources:
The Global Studies Foundation
NAIS’s statement on Global Education
Global Issues Network
Stanford’s “SPICE Program”
National Geographic’s Education site
Peace Corps’ “World Wise Schools”
Tony Wagner (Harvard) on YouTube – “7 Skills Students Need for their Future” (29 mins)
Council of Europe’s “Global Educational Guidelines”
American Forum for Global Education’s “Checklist”
Institute for International Education

Off to a Global Education Conference

First and foremost, I am writing this blog using my iPad so please excuse any typos or short hand. Also note, I am composing it thousands of feet in the air at several hundred mph – inside of the American Airlines jet that is taking me from DFW to San Diego.
This conference is on building Global Education. As my school Trinity Valley is embarking on a global education initiative, they have been immensely supportive of their faculty and staff attending Global Ed professional development conferences. I’m excited bout the contacts that I will make an the new information that I am rue to learn. I’ll try to post a few items here and there, with a large update at the end.