As a follow-up to our presentations on global education, I am guest teaching in our Pathogens and Parasites classes this week, part of a broader effort to broadly integrate global education across the curriculum. Students have studied infectious diseases from the perspectives of science and public health, and now a series of guest speakers have been relating first-hand stories and posing authentic problems to the students. Consistently, students are spending class time researching real-world topics and brainstorming possible solutions. Is it safe to drink the water in Haiti? What precautions should we take when working with HIV+ youth in Botswana? Why have AIDS treatment efforts been so much more successful than HIV prevention efforts?
Authentic problems are complex and difficult to solve, compared with highly specific problems normally assigned during academic coursework. AIDS in Botswana involves principles of biology, public health, sociology, anthropology, politics, and economics. Students, so well trained as logical thinkers, are surprised to find that rational explanations are usually insufficient when they do not take all contributing factors into account. Why is it a bad idea to conduct saliva HIV tests in Botswana? Why would a doctor reasonably acquiesce to a HIV+ mother’s wish to breastfeed a newborn?
School technologists work every day to identify and support authentic uses of technology across the curriculum. The methods for integrating global education are not all that different. Communicate with enthusiasm, focus on the positive effects on student learning, work the most with those who respond with equal enthusiasm, focus learning activities on authentic applications. Use technological tools to facilitate research, group work, communication, and public presentation. Take advantage of the many wonderful electronic resources that exist out there on most topics.
Where are you finding synergy between global education, teaching and learning, and technology?
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