Academic journal article Technology and Engineering Teacher

Global Collaboration Enhances Technology Literacy

Academic journal article Technology and Engineering Teacher

Global Collaboration Enhances Technology Literacy

Article excerpt

Today's learners routinely use technology outside of school to communicate, collaborate, and gather information about the world around them. Classroom learning experiences are relevant when they include communication technologies such as social networking, blogging, and video conferencing, and information technologies such as databases, browsers, and other tools used outside of school. Increasing the use of technology, however, does not ensure technological literacy. Schools today need to actively develop learners' technological literacy (ITEA/ITEEA, 2000/2002/2007), communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving (P21 Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2011) to produce graduates who are adaptable to an ever-changing global marketplace. Global collaboration can be a vehicle for teaching these skills. As teachers and students work with others around the world, they develop a global perspective and learn to appreciate the depth of understanding that comes with shared meaning within a culturally diverse environment. 'The aim of global collaboration in education is to improve learning, break down classroom walls, and develop authentic audiences" (Lindsay & Davis, 2013). Global collaboration experiences foster adaptability, effective communication, creative problem solving, technological proficiency, and cultural empathy.

Global collaboration includes varying levels of connectivity, synchronicity, authenticity, inquiry, and creativity. Global education involves interaction with data or individuals, and the level of interaction increases along a continuum (Figure 1). Educators do not need to start at a lower level of the continuum and move upward, but may select the level of immersion into global education that best fits the needs of the project, lesson, or learners, and the availability of collaborators and technology tools.


Global awareness, the first stage in the global education continuum, involves using technology resources such as Google Earth or the Jason Project (Jason Learning, 2012-2014) to bring locations across the globe into the classroom learning environment. Global awareness is appropriate for educators without the connectivity needed for global communication or with a structured curriculum that allows little time for open-ended projects across time zones. Global awareness builds capacity for future global collaboration because students begin to develop an appreciation for the differences among cities, towns, and countries across the globe. Global awareness helps students better understand relative distances, proximity to water sources, major landmarks, population distribution, and availability of resources around the world. In comparing technology resources globally, students might utilize Google Earth to view buildings, reservoirs, bridges, highways, and farms across diverse nations. Students enrolled in an online doctoral program at a Texas university first learned about their cohort member colleagues using Google Earth presentations through which students zoomed into neighborhoods where they grew up, schools they attended, and both man-made and natural resources in their surrounding area.


Parallel activity involves students across the globe participating in the same event, competition, or curriculum at the same time without sharing data or communicating directly with one another. Parallel activity includes competitions and programs such as the Global Space Balloon Challenge (2015) and The International Baccalaureate (IBO, 2015). Globally, students are provided the same challenge or curriculum within a given window of time. They complete the competition or curriculum and assessments at their home schools, and their performance is assessed along with the performance of students from participating countries. The International Baccalaureate utilizes external assessment evaluators to maintain the integrity of the program. …

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