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Friday, December 20, 2013

How Online Learning can Foster Global Perspectives and Leadership


The world is changing and the interconnected nature of cultures and information is moving forward at a rapid pace. The need for global perspectives and education that meets those global needs is particularly important if difficult problems will be solved. Research by Gibson, et. al. (2008) delves into fostering higher levels of global perspective within the gifted population to ensure that there is a stream of leadership abilities available for the future. 

Globalization is seen as related to the interconnectivity of trade, technology, and the environment (Adams & Carfagna, 2006). The elements within the system begin to create higher levels of influence on each other and new ways are thinking are needed to handle the constant stream of information. The end effects of globalization include interdependence, interconnectedness, and culture diversity (Anheier, et. al, 2001). 

Global learning provides new opportunities for human advancement and skill development. Business distribution networks and government decisions no longer exist in a vacuum but have far reaching implications. Through the use of distance education it is possible that students can collaborate across cultural boarders to learn shared perspectives and additional cultural awareness. This knowledge can be used in business, governance, or general humanity.

Such cross-cultural education offers opportunities to maximize critical thinking, intercultural communication competence, collaboration, teamwork, reflective practices, dispositions and values (Roeper, 1988). These skills are sorely needed in society as the stakeholder pool widens. Without the ability to understand information at a greater level, society is doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. 

The gifted population has the capacity to move out of the pattern of events. They often worry about such issues as the environment, trade, hunger, peace, disease and terrorism (Gibson, et. al, 2008). They have the ability to understand these issues in greater levels and feel compassionate about the consequences on others. They are motivated by understanding and have the predispositions to engage in global learning due to their sensitivity and tolerance of others (Van Tassel-Baska, 1998).  They are highly sensitive to moral issues and the rights of others in global social issues (Clark, 2008). 

The process of global learning is the creation of global awareness related to various issues that impact the population. Global learners have the capacity to understand the interconnectedness and interdependence of the world. They must have effective reflection, intrapersonal intelligence, and metacognitive abilities. In other words, they must have the ability to reflect on choices and culture and understand their overall implications. 

The authors suggest that global learning is fostered through either face-to-face cultural interactions or through online collaborative projects. Students engage in online projects with others from varying backgrounds and dispositions. Using gifted students from different countries helps to ensure that the learning is not derailed by the limited perspective of more ethnocentric members. As this population is more open to understanding, empathizing, and helping they are a natural group to foster global learning and citizenship. 

This paper helps highlight the need to think beyond local and national culture. As the world becomes more complex and business more global in their operations, understanding the nuances of these changes will become important for leadership. The gifted population often races ahead of the general population and this makes them prime subjects for understanding the changes that are likely to occur in the future as general awareness increases. Whether one is situated on campus or in the buzz of cyber world, having students interact with those of varying cultures makes graduates more prepared to work in the global marketplace.

Adams, J. & Carfagna, A. (2006). Comitif; of a^e in a fiíoha Üzed world: The next generation. Bloumsfield. CT: Kutnarian Press.

Anheier,  et. al. (2001 ). Introducing global civil society. In H. K. Anheier. M. Glasius. »S: M. Kaldor (Eds.). Global civil society (pp. 3-22). New York: Oxford University Press.

Clark, B. (2008). Growing up gifted: Developing the potential of children at home and at .•school (7t.h ed.). Upper Saddle River. NJ: Pear.son Education.

Gibson, et. al.  (2004). Gaining multiple perspectives in gifted education through global learning reflection. Australian Journal of Gifted Education. 12, 34-40.

Gibson, et. al. (2008). Developing global awareness and responsible world citizenship with global learning. Roeper Review, 30 (1). 

Roeper. A. (1988). Should educators of the gifted and talented be more eoncemed with world issues? Roeper Review, ¡I, 12-13.

Van Tassel-Baska, J. (1998). Appropriate curriculum for the talented learner. In J. Van Tassel-Baska (Ed.), Excellence in educating gifted and talented ¡earners (pp. 339-361 ). Denver, CO: Love.

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