How can we design learning experiences that embrace global education as well as enforce rigor and relevance…..or are these the same? Is it essential to have rigor?
What are GOOD topics and ideas to create a global project around?
From my recent experience with having a class participating in the FCGP I found that the learning environment of a global flat classroom by its very nature created rigor and relevance for 21st Century learning. I had a small class (seven Chinese ESL students) who were divided into different global teams- they did not have any partners in the same classroom. At first I was concerned by this but now I can see how these teenagers really wanted to get to know other teenagers in America. They loved the independence of a bigger, global classroom and this challenged them to move out of our safe classroom and their comfort zone. This was the trigger for independent learning at a higher level.
The topic reading, The Horizon Report, was challenging in its vocabulary and ideas and created an expectation of excellence. Once again I was happily surprised when none of my ESL students had any issues. Why? They independently used Google translate and the Internet to get an understanding of context. In addition, to classroom support my students also reached out in group discussions or sent messages to their team student leaders for clarification of any issues.
The Flat Classroom structure put responsibility on my students to contribute to their global teams. As ESL learners they had to communicate in English and presenting a draft was not always possible. This raised their need to be independent and to really check their writing as they did not want to be misunderstood. Authentic communication and the task of contributing to Google docs, blogs, video co-creation and eBook creation definitely enforced rigor and relevance to 21st Century learning. My students needed to be encouraged and shown that they could achieve and when they demonstrated their learning in their co-created video we all felt a real sense of achievement.
Good topics need to be about authentic issues and to have challenging co-creation tasks to enable students to demonstrate high level learning.
Authentic issues could be about current global concerns, glocalization and student entrepreneurship. Cultural awareness also needs to be taken into consideration so that issues are not too confronting and encourage inclusivity.