Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Digital Storytelling for Transformative Global Citizenship Education

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Digital Storytelling for Transformative Global Citizenship Education

Article excerpt


The educational agenda to prepare students to navigate a rapidly changing, complex, and interconnected world within an increasingly digital landscape has resulted in curricular mandates that integrate both global citizenship education and digital technology in Kindergarten to Grade 12 classrooms. Recent studies indicate that youth are using online technologies to engage in citizenship activities such as discussing global problems, planning community service activities, seeking volunteer opportunities, writing blogs about a political issue, and forwarding political videos to their social networks (Cohen, Kahne, Bowyer, Middaugh, & Rogowski, 2012; Sunal, 2008; Van Hamel, 2011). Although a growing body of research points to ways that non-profit organizations and individual schools and teachers are using digital technologies for civics and citizenship learning (Banaji & Buckingham, 2010; Bennet, 2008; Bers, 2008; Merryfield, 2007; Rheingold, 2008), integration of technology and global citizenship is not yet common practice in most schools (VanFossen & Berson, 2008).

This research is an exploratory case study of the Bridges to Understanding (Bridges) digital storytelling program. By analyzing a long-running program that used digital storytelling to connect middle and high school classes for global citizenship learning, this study probed the extent to which such technology-based initiatives could support a transformative approach to global citizenship education. The following research questions framed our project:

1. What is the Bridges digital storytelling curriculum's conception of global citizenship education?

2. In the Bridges program, to what extent does the process of digital storytelling (from conception to creation to dissemination) support transformative global citizenship education practices?

3. Based on our analysis of the Bridges program, what are the challenges and implications for the application of digital storytelling for transformative global citizenship education?

Since 2000 there has been substantial growth in scholarly literature on global citizenship education (Parmenter, 2011). Conceptions of global citizenship education, however, remain varied and contested (Davies, 2006; Davies, Evans, & Reid, 2005; Marshall, 2011; Myers, 2010; Pike, 2008; Reimer & McLean, 2009; Shultz, 2007). There is a general consensus among these authors that global citizenship education equips learners with the knowledge, skills, and values to navigate and live together in an increasingly interdependent world and to work collectively toward solutions to the planet's pressing problems such as human rights violations, global poverty, and environmental degradation (Abdi & Shultz, 2008; Davies, 2006; Hicks & Holden, 2007; Marshall, 2011; Schattle, 2008). In their review of the literature, Mundy, Manion, Masemann, and Haggerty (2007) identified six main dispositions common to most definitions of global citizenship education: (1) a view of human life as shaped by a history of global interdependence; (2) a commitment to the idea of basic human rights and global social justice; (3) a commitment to the value of cultural diversity and intercultural understanding; (4) a belief in the efficacy of individual action; (5) a commitment to child-centred pedagogy; and, (6) environmental awareness and commitment to ecological sustainability (p. 9). While these six tenets provide a starting point for defining global citizenship education, recent research on classroom practices of global citizenship education point to the need for a more critical framework.

An emerging body of literature has raised concerns that global education practices tend to emphasize an awareness of "distant others," thus reinforcing a "them/us" mentality at the expense of linking local and global challenges and engaging students in critical analysis of social justice issues (Andreotti, 2006; Jefferess, 2012; Mundy et al. …

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