[Back in what seems like the Dark Ages of Educational Technology I was seeking international partners for students to work on global projects. Here’s a Hechinger Report that shares a variety of opportunities for students to help solve global problems.]
This fall, after getting to know each other in online video exchanges, some Ugandan high school students told a group of students in New Orleans that most Ugandans have no reliable electricity and use candles or lanterns after dark. Over the following weeks, the students worked together to build solar-powered lights. An education technology startup called Level Up Village supplied both schools with solar cells, batteries and LEDs, along with 3-D printers to fabricate the housings, tutorials on electricity and computer-aided design, and an online workspace for posting notes and swapping ideas.
Global learning initiatives like this are booming, because the technologies that long made our world seem smaller are finally at the point where they can seamlessly make classrooms that much bigger. For years, educators have wanted to teach “global competency”—meaning a grasp of international issues and the ability to work with people around the world. Until recently, however, virtual border crossings were typically one-time extravagances pulled off in a handful of elite schools.
Now, growing computing power, accelerating broadband, social media and virtual reality are bringing global education to the masses. Schools are connecting and collaborating globally in all sorts of ways, ranging from Tweets and Skype sessions to full-blown online global learning platforms, most of which will be up for discussion in the webinars and keynote speakers of this week’s online Global Education Conference.