Globally Connected Courses Bring Culture to the Classroom

world-flags-in-university-campusThe short- and long-term benefits of studying abroad are well established, yet only 9% of U.S. undergraduates study abroad. How can faculty and instructors help the other 91% achieve a comparable level of success in a world where global perspectives are so important?

One approach is the globally connected course. Using videoconferencing and a wide variety of other e-Learning options, instructors and students in the US are partnering with peers half a world away to complete projects that represent a significant opportunity for “internationalization at home”.

The Challenges

Participating students encounter and work through the same types of cultural barriers experienced when studying (or working) abroad as they complete collaborative assignments with their overseas peers. One professor from Allegheny College explains the challenges to his students this way: “‘You’re going to go out there in this globalized world and you need to learn how to negotiate these things—a different sense of time, accents, technology that doesn’t work the way you expect it to, perceptions of Americans overseas….” In short, it’s hard work.

The Benefits

Giving students the chance to negotiate the sometimes bumpy path of global collaboration prepares them for international opportunities beyond the classroom in a way that’s manageable for the faculty or instructor—and feasible within existing budgets. Although many of these courses are conducted in English, the personal connections students develop with international peers can also help to reinforce language learning, making additional solutions such as Rosetta Stone® Advantage all the more effective.

With globally connected courses, faculty and instructors help equip a greater number of students with the mindset, flexibility, and knowledge needed to work collaboratively in a global framework.

Have you found ways for all your students to gain global experiences, whether or not they go abroad? We’d love to hear about your experience of the challenges and benefits. And please share this blog with a colleague whose course might benefit from global connections.

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