Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Modelling Digital Natives' International Collaboration: Finnish-Korean Experiences of Environmental Education

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Modelling Digital Natives' International Collaboration: Finnish-Korean Experiences of Environmental Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

As the world becomes more inter-connected and globalized, people are asked to be aware of multi-cultural differences, and global education is particularly needed for 21st century students (Cisco, 2010). Schools are often asked to provide education for global citizenship (Kaivola & Melen-Paaso, 2007; O'Neill, 2006). Information communication technology enables communities to move beyond geographical boundaries and provides a vehicle for people around the world to interact and learn together seamlessly. Concurrently learners in international collaboration on the web are required to face and overcome numerous barriers, e.g. linguistic, temporal and cultural boundaries (Walker & Creanor, 2011).

Direct interaction and communication with students from other cultures can be one of the most effective ways to understand and learn about cultural differences. Global environmental issues can be an appropriate means of introducing global citizenship to students. Social software, like Web 2.0 enables students to collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form learning communities in which they construct and share knowledge. Learning communities emerge when students share common interests (Jonassen, Howland, Marra & Chrismond, 2008; Hakkarainen, Palonen, Paavola & Lehtinen, 2004). Since ICT is already developed enough to easily provide students with international interaction opportunities in teaching and learning, schools should not hesitate to offer international collaboration using ICT, which seems to be a promising means of achieving this goal (O'Neill, 2006).

ICT has permeated daily life extensively, and Finland and Korea are known as highly wired countries. Not only are the societies technically equipped, but schools are also. Although great differences continue to exist in resources between schools, extensive national training and school facilities have ensured adequate proficiency of teachers' technical skills and ability to employ ICT in education. However, schools still face challenges--the use of technology as a learning tool has not increased (Niemi & Kumpulainen, 2008; Kankaanranta & Puhakka, 2008). Developing school practices to reflect contemporary learning concepts powerfully impacts technologic needs in teaching (Niemi & Kumpulainen, 2008). Infrastructure of ICT in Korean and Finnish schools has been well established but pedagogic implementation of ICT in education has not been adopted well.

Digital native school children challenge pedagogy

Digital natives and net generation are two common phrases used to describe the generation of people born between the early 1990s and early 2010s. They have grown up with digital technology and are the first generation to be bathed in bits (Tapscott, 2009), creating the assumption that this generation has a natural aptitude and high skill levels for using new technology (Jones, Ramanau, Cross & Healing, 2010). Yet Jones and Healing (2010) approach the 'Net Generation' or 'Digital Natives' assumption at macro and micro levels with reservation. They claim that the net generation trend should be treated with meso level like class or program activities, as students in advanced industrial countries are far from homogenous in their response to new technology. The arguments raised by Jones and Healing (2010) underpin the use of the digital natives or net generation concepts in this paper.

An educational challenge for the global world is to provide learning experiences of authentic operational cultures that support interaction between individuals and groups (Vahahyyppa, 2010). Being exposed to a different culture can deliver an optimal learning experience, yet not all have access to such opportunities. Thus the experience of different cultures through cyber space becomes a feasible solution to meet this educational challenge. Technology becomes a vital environment for global citizenship education. …

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