Saturday, November 10, 2007

The challenges of globalisation

Meeting the challenges of globalization - brief conference report

by Noel Jenkins

Earlier this month I attended a conference entitled ‘How to enhance teaching and learning to meet the challenges of globalisation’. The keynote speaker was Professor Yong Zhao from Michigan State University. I thought I’d post some of my notes.

The challenge for schools…

To help students develop niche talents that will be needed to find employment.
To teach students how to be global citizens. (Globalisation implies that there is no such thing as a local problem or issue. We depend on others - don’t have to like them but do have to co-exist.)


There was some discussion of emerging ICT trends, including Second Life, ‘gold farming’ (trading virtual goods in MMORPGs) and Web 2.0 technologies. Students can reach a global audience through You Tube. Niche talented students have new markets. A dancer could produce and market their own video.

It was suggested that the traditional curriculum suppresses other talents. How can technology help talented students reach global markets?

Daniel Pink [Whole New Mind] suggests that we are moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age. Traditional left brained thinkers (engineers, doctors, lawyers etc produced the Information age. In the future these activities will be outsourced either to machines or to Asia. In the Conceptual Age 6 essential aptitudes underpinned by creativity and diversity will be required. These were: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning.

Culturally, Asian students perform better at ‘left brained’ activities / Western culture at ‘right brained’. Traditional government view is that to compete effectively students must achieve in comparison with Asian counterparts. But even if there is no gap in achievement, cheaper workers will always be most employable. Future belongs to those with niche talents.

How can we encourage development of unique talents?

There is little evidence that the use of ICT to teach traditional subjects results in higher standards.
Need to refocus on how to live in a digital world - as a consumer, as a citizen as a leader. How to make a living in a digital world? How to encourage innovators and entrepreneurs? There must be an emphasis on creativity. ICT is crucial - students should play. Schools need to consider the international dimension…

An international school…

Schools can be global enterprises.
Students can be recruited from around the world. They need not be present in person?
Employees from global sources. Why not offer Chinese? Hiring online teachers from China to teach for a few hours via video conferencing. Schools could offer an endless choice of subjects.
Recognize different talents, so for example why can’t a good English student open their own online college and teach their Chinese counterparts?

There’s a global market for everything…

For example a global fascination with the English countryside. Why can’t students document it? - make videos, record songs collect writings publish online / You Tube etc. Can either be entrepreneurs or just share.
Writing for a real audience is a powerful incentive to better learning - to move away from what the teacher / government wants, to what the market wants.
E.g. fast growing demand for cultural ambassadors who act on behalf of global companies wishing to infiltrate local markets.

How can we prepare students to move across cultures?

Students need to interact with people from other cultures.
They should be forced to communicate in other languages.
Vital to make connections with other schools.
Need to put students in to uncomfortable situations.
A moral dimension Need to confront ignorance and prejudice.

There was a description of an educational system in the US where half day is spent in a Chinese style classroom, the rest of day in a Western style decentralized environment.

Other interesting contributions to the conference came from Hayle School in Cornwall who have developed a very impressive international dimension to their school curriculum, and a representative from the British Council drew attention to the many opportunities available to support schools looking to create international links through the Global Gatewa
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