Photo courtesy of the GCC
by Carie Donnelson
From the cost of a gallon of gas to the human costs of worldwide conflicts, the lives of Americans are more than ever touched by global issues. For teachers tasked with preparing students to be college and career ready, integrating global competency into their lessons is becoming a necessary addition.
Given the constant shift in teaching priorities – testing, integrating Common Core standards into their teaching, day-to-day classroom management, etc. – teachers from all over the country and even international locations looking for a fresh approach have turned to the Global Competence Certificate (GCC), a program for in-service teachers developed by founding partners, TC, World Savvy, and Asia Society.
Now completing its first year, we thought we’d take a look at the program’s innovative pedagogical model, with specific focus on the online coursework – and one course in particular – that has already received high marks from current students.
Over the 15-month course of study, students engage in the GCC’s three program components: online coursework, summer sessions of international fieldwork with partner institutions from across the globe, and a final capstone project wherein participants collaboratively apply their learning and insights.
“These pedagogical models are all aimed at developing 21st Century skills by allowing teachers to experience their learning about the world so that they can do the same for and with their students,” said TC Associate Professor Bill Gaudelli and WorldSavvy Co-founder and Executive Director Dana Mortenson in a March 2015 interview with C.M. Rubin.
An important part of the program is the ability to deliver the highest quality coursework, within an online learning management system (LMS). “Technology allows teachers in the GCC to access instructors – academics and practitioners – who are the top in their field, from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds. It also allows teachers from across the country and globe to come together to learn and work collaboratively, and learn from one another, despite geographic distance,” said Gaudelli and Mortenson. For its first year, the GCC primarily used Blackboard Learn (an LMS) and Blackboard Collaborate (their live web conferencing tool).
During the online learning program component, students take courses from three categories: “think, learn, and do” (see figure 1 for a chart of the courses in each section). Courses under the “think” category provide the foundations for subsequent coursework. In these courses, students reflect on the meaning of ‘global competence’ and produce inquiry models used to contextualize global events. Students also identify their own culture, relationships, languages, and background so that they can look at others from a grounded perspective. Finally, they critically look at various sociopolitical systems across the world. “Learn” courses look at 21st century issues of human rights, urbanization, poverty, sustainability, and aesthetic experience – a philosophy of learning developed by late TC Professor Emerita Maxine Greene. “Do” courses bring the students back to the classroom, developing practical applications like curriculum and assessment.
A Closer Look
Introduction to Global Competence, a core as well as a “think” course in the program, is taught by Professor Gaudelli, who also played a developmental role in the conceptualization of the GCC. The course is intended “to examine conceptions of global competency and help teachers build a framework for developing this pedagogical outlook.” A key part of the course is to develop a framework of inquiry, through which participants can view the interrelated forces behind global events.
In an assignment designed to analyze and apply lessons learned from readings, Gaudelli asked students to create a Framework of Global Interpretation (FGI). The FGI, which is a series of related questions that guide inquiry about a global event, was then used to analyze a specific event of significance.
“The purpose of the [FGI] assignment,” said Gauldelli, “was to model for students the layered and linked way that an issue can be read in the media… Being globally competent means having the ability to ask questions and pose additional questions to examine the layers of linked and interconnected pieces that exist in any seemingly singular event.”
One group used Popplet, which is an online, visual tool for mapping relationships between facts, thoughts, and images, for their FGI. Figure 2 shows the group’s FGI in which they mapped questions under the categories of history, politics, economics, society, ecology, as well as “flows and scapes” or human organizing principles, perspectives, media, and miscellaneous. Figure 3 is a detail of the FGI.
Using their FGIs, one group then created a multimedia presentation that analyzed the April 2012 Rana Plaza clothing factory building collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,129 people and injured over 2,500. “It is an event that implicates students in the connectivity since their purchases at places like H&M drive sub-standard working practices,” said Gaudelli.
One group created a Prezi presentation of the event that included images, web links, and embedded videos, as well as reflections and analysis. Figures 4 and 5 are snapshots of their presentation.
Following completion of Intro to Global Competence, one participant wrote, “This was a great overview course that got us thinking and working together to tackle global competency. The way that we broke down the matrix and other frameworks really helped us to craft our own definitions of what being globally competent means to us and to our teaching practices.”
Other online courses used similar collaborative assignment formats, all with the intention of demonstrating the analysis and application of theory, students’ use of technology to support connections and reflections, peer-to-peer and student choice learning, and connecting local and personal contexts to global issues and experiences.
In their course evaluations, students consistently commented on the intellectual and imaginative rigor and practical applications of their coursework. Combined, these features are perhaps the most valuable part of the GCC’s innovative pedagogy to its in-service teacher participants. As one teacher wrote, “I will use these resources for the rest of my career.”