How do we cultivate global awareness?

Peter MosaferiadisTechnology in education

Best practices for cultivating global awareness, according to Stanford University emeritus professor Nel Noddings (2005, p.122), are often about how the “global” can inform the “local”, and vice versa.

For instance, she argues that when students befriend classmates from different cultural backgrounds, they are learning about foreign cultures, and more importantly, developing the attitudes that constitute them as global citizens. The same goes for how the “global” can inform the “local” — for example, students may know more about what they can do to protect the environment by learning about deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

Noddings argues the potential of fostering global awareness through bridging the “global” and “local” is limitless; and there are fewer reasons than ever not to do it. As Elizabeth Crawford and Misty Kirby (2008) wrote in the Journal of Curriculum and Instruction, technology offers a host of possibilities for educators to foster global awareness, without adding too much to the teaching burden. Apps such as Google’s Field Tripper app makes it easy for teachers to take students around the world from the comfort of the classroom. Moreover, tablet educational apps, such as Al Gore’s Our Choice and National Geographic World Atlas, just to name a few, are readily available at teachers’ disposal.

Video conferencing has also been used by teachers to bring the world to their students. For example, elementary-grade teacher Krissy Venosdale has been using Skype to run video conferences between her students in St. Louis, Missouri and students in other parts of the United States since 2012. She is also running a mock presidential election called #KidVote using this technology, where her students and students from other places simulate the US Electoral College. These class activities allows her students to communicate across geographical boundaries, which provides opportunities for students to get a glimpse of various cultures around the world (Boss, 2013).

With these technologies, teachers can always plug into the “global” aspect of education with ease. Therefore, global citizenship education is only limited by the creativity of teachers to connect the “global” with the “local” by creating memorable intercultural experiences for students.

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Kirby, M. & Crawford, E. (2008). Fostering Students’ Global Awareness: Technology Applications in Social Studies Teaching and Learning. Journal Of Curriculum And Instruction, 2(1). Retrieved from JOCI

Noddings, N. (2005). Educating citizens for global awareness. New York: Teachers College Press.

Boss, S. (2013). How Are You Connecting Your Students with the World? Skype in the Classroom. Edutopia. Retrieved 7 June 2016, from Edutopia