Learning Across Borders: Blogging from the Human Societies Workshop at SUNY COILPosted: Sun 10.02.2011
This weekend, I am participating in the SUNY COIL Institute’s workshop on human societies and digital learning. The purpose of this weekend is to bring together institutions who are participating in the human societies track of the institute who are working to develop online learning modules with partner institutions around the world. The program which I support as a graduate assistant is working with a partner in Ghana to create a module that integrates global citizenship into business, education, and first year learning. As a result, I had the opportunity to participate in this fantastic workshop and gain perspectives on these themes, as well as the innovative and practical applications of technology to create the most meaningful learning experience possible. Two large themes that I want to concentrate on for this blog post are both the opportunities that online learning afford and the need for global citizenship education to be integrated into our teaching.
Firstly, throughout the weekend we discussed the opportunities and challenges that online learning brings forth. Each day (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) has been dedicated to different aspects of online learning with our partners and we’ve struggled through issues of access, design, and impediments that we need to keep in the forefront of our mind as we plan such courses. Technology affords tools, but what needs to be remembered is that technology is another tool that needs planning, meaningful design, and intentional use to engage students and their voice into the digital classroom.
On global citizenship education, what is striking me is the inherent expectation that global perspectives should be incorporated into the classroom. Faculty members come from disciplines that range from global citizenship to biology to gender studies, and make their homes from Japan to San Jose to Bethlehem. It is no longer enough to have an International Affairs major that allows those who are interested in international topics to operate and learn. Global citizenship is a necessary component to apply as an overlay to allow engineers, biologists, social scientists, and businesspeople to operate effectively in a globalized world. The focus for this weekend has been building bridges – both digital and interpersonal – and this project gives us a valuable opportunity to address both of those spheres in a global format.
We in higher education are now shifting the discussion to interdisciplinary efforts and cluster hiring. Rather than siloed disciplines, we look to connect multiple specialties to address the large issues facing the world today. This weekend was a rich opportunity to work in an environment that creates what our Vice Provost of Research and Graduate Studies calls “sticky collisions” – generating amazing ideas across borders as a result of sitting down and talking across disciplines. I look forward to seeing what comes from this project and what lessons it yields for the productive sharing of ideas across borders.