Global Cities’ e-Classroom Program Global Scholars Proves How Students Can Develop Global Competence
New Webinars for Teachers Will Help Scale Impact, Engage More Students
New York, NY – New research shows that students ages 10 to 13 in the Global Scholars program learned to communicate effectively with students in classrooms around the world, and to collaborate in developing solutions to some of humanity’s greatest problems, putting them on a path for global competency that will give them an advantage in the workforce of the future. The research provides important lessons for how these challenging skills can be taught in any K-12 classroom.
A report released by Global Cities, Inc., a program of Bloomberg Philanthropies, shows that its innovative education model of global digital exchange, Global Scholars, is helping students learn global competency. Successfully Educating Tomorrow’s Global Citizens: Teaching and Evaluating Global Competency in e-Classrooms reveals the power of peer connections to spark curiosity, enhance cultural understanding, drive interest in global issues, and help middle-school students recognize their ability to change the world. Global competency has not been part of most school curricula, largely because it has been considered difficult to define, teach, and measure. This research makes a compelling case for educators to embrace global competency and teach it any classroom, and new webinars launched today by Global Cities will help equip them to apply these findings.
Using an original methodology that analyzes student posts and replies in digital discussion boards in the Global Scholars program, the report—co-published by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)—shows that the Global Scholars model results in student progress toward global competency. Global Cities collaborated with Out of Eden Learn of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero (Harvard) to conduct this research.
Students in the Global Scholars program follow a project-based curriculum about how to solve a global problem such as food insecurity or water pollution. With the oversight of teachers, they complete authentic assignments to research the problem’s local impacts and propose possible solutions, then exchange ideas in discussion boards with classmates around the world. For example, students in Taipei analyzed local news articles to understand different perspectives on how climate change is impacting weather patterns in their city. They then shared their findings in the e-classroom with students from eight cities worldwide. Students from Jacksonville replied that they identified similar impacts on weather patterns in their own city. Their discussion board posts and replies serve as a new primary source to learn about other countries and cultures. The research shows that this instructional approach works.
“The need for students to develop these global learning competencies is indisputable,” said Marjorie B. Tiven, founder and president of Global Cities, Inc. “Engaging in constructive dialogue with people from many countries and cultures, researching complex problems, and developing thoughtful, equitable solutions that address the needs of entire communities—these are difficult tasks for adults, yet our educators report that students this age are accomplishing them in Global Scholars classrooms every day.”
Thomas Courtney, a Global Scholars teacher at Chollas-Mead Elementary School in San Diego said, “For me, it is truly amazing to actually see our students interact through the e-classroom where they write back and forth. Sometimes that is just enough. It really gets them going. And then all of a sudden, they get the desire to research. And that’s when you know you’ve got them. That’s that spark that I’m talking about.”
The new research has produced empirical evidence that students are in fact learning these global competencies, where in the curriculum they are learning, and how they are learning. This shows the value of discussion boards as a source for both learning and assessment, and that direct connections with peers in other countries are the secret ingredient to student engagement, capturing the curiosity of children ages 10 to 13.
“Communication and collaboration across cultures are increasingly critical skills for young people – not only for their careers, but for the communities and countries they will one day lead,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, which supports Global Cities. “This new report demonstrates that investing in civic education that brings young people together across borders holds tremendous potential for student learning and growth. As the new webinars help more educators integrate Global Cities’ data-driven approach into their classrooms, we look forward to seeing more and more students reap the benefits.”
Jakes Mokoena, a Global Scholars teacher at Rembrandt Park School in Johannesburg, said, “The world is just one village now. So what happens in Kenya, what happens in Canada, what happens in Ghana, South Africa and USA affects all of us. And 10 to 13 is the right age for them to know what’s happening globally, and then start asking questions about things that happened in the whole world. Global warming is not just happening here in South Africa. It’s also affecting other countries. So this global learning is important. Very, very important.”
During the 2018–2019 school year, 15,698 students participated in the Global Scholars program from 51 cities in 25 countries. The nine-month curriculum-guided program with 30 assignments generated approximately 111,000 individual posts and replies in digital discussion boards. The research was based on a representative sample of 1,167 posts written by students in 17 cities in 12 countries. The analysis found evidence of four global learning outcomes: Global Engagement, Appreciation for Diversity, Global Knowledge, and Cultural Understanding. While the research was conducted prior to the pandemic, its lessons about teaching and learning in a digital environment are more important than ever. A critical step was development of metrics to observe hard-to-measure outcomes.
Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) emphasized that Global Scholars is a real program with a track record of success, and that the empirical data provides evidence that it works. “Global Cities has developed not just an intended curriculum, but an implemented curriculum. It’s an ecosystem and a learning environment in which global competency is developed and measured. I can see great value in finding ways to make global competency visible, because we will never improve what we cannot see.”
Key findings from the report include:
- Global Engagement: Students acknowledged their ability to change the world and demonstrated that they were willing to do so.
- Appreciation for Diversity: Thousands of students from dozens of cities worldwide were showing they could interact with one another in ways that were respectful, inquisitive, and substantive.
- Global Knowledge: Starting with a foundation of geographic knowledge, students both grasped the complexities of global issues and recognized their importance.
- Cultural Understanding: These 10-to-13-year-olds, who were just beginning to develop a sense of self and their own cultures, were understanding and appreciating cultural differences.
The analysis breaks new ground in measuring global learning. It is the culmination of a years-long process by Global Cities, Inc. to define global competency in terms of clear learning outcomes, develop a model of student digital exchange that promotes the development of global competency across all of these learning outcomes, and systematically measure whether participating students were making progress. As part of those efforts, Global Cities worked with Harvard to create a comprehensive codebook that enables researchers and educators to identify empirical evidence of 55 indicators of global learning. Harvard used the codebook to analyze a sample of student posts and replies, coding for all 55 indicators of the global learning outcomes, to determine the extent to which students were learning global competency.
The work “offers a new approach to what should be measured when it comes to learning,” according to Adam Gamoran, President of W.T. Grant Foundation, which invests in research with a particular focus on reducing inequality in youth learning outcomes. “It’s not just dates, places, memorizing the capitals of countries, or the demographic patterns of countries. But rather, it’s understanding culture, understanding experience, understanding diversity, understanding what it means to engage with counterparts in other parts of the world. Thinking of these as learning outcomes is also a contribution and can help set a direction for research in the field.”
Global competency equips students to collaborate on pressing issues that cross national borders. This research provides empirical evidence that it can be taught to students from a young age. “Now that this evaluation work is done, the next step is to put the findings into the hands of teachers,” said Liz Duraisingh and Carrie James of Out of Eden Learn of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero. “By making learning observable, the codebook can help teachers describe their students’ progress, reflect on their own practice, and identify new opportunities for learning.”
Today, Global Cities announced it is launching new webinars beginning in May for all K-12 educators interested learning how to teach and observe global competency in their classrooms. Every educator who believes that it is critical to begin early to prepare students for a globally connected world can benefit from these webinars. Read the full report here and the introductory letter by Marjorie Tiven here.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 941 cities and 173 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.66 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.
About Global Cities, Inc.
Global Cities, Inc. has extensive experience promoting global competency learning by using technology to connect students and educators, through its signature program, Global Scholars. It has gathered empirical evidence that these connections develop the skills that students need to be successful in today’s globalized world. It has shown how technology can offer unique opportunities for learning through dialogue and collaboration, and that interaction with peers is an incomparable motivator for kids, whether the connections take place in the local classroom or across national borders. What Global Cities has learned is relevant to all educators, whether they are teaching remotely or in physical classrooms, to ensure every child has access to the education they deserve. To learn more about Global Cities, Inc., visit us at globalcities.org, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and register for a webinar about this research.
Jody Kaplan, +1 917 689 9921