Technology and Global Learning

State Governments Respond to Globalization

Technology is the great connector and equalizer. Photo: Eric O'Connell.

The world is advancing at record speeds and so is the technology that is accessible to students worldwide. Technology is a great asset in internationalizing education. It allows students to overcome geographic barriers, to communicate and collaborate with their peers around the world, to publish and share work, even to talk to one another in real time. Some states have harnessed their technology investments to expand the availability of international courses online and encourage schools to create virtual relationships with schools in other parts of the world.

The Internet allows students to learn with, not just about, one another. Young Americans are born into the digital world and have seemingly no greater difficulty working with a student around the world as a student across the room. Often, it is the teachers or school leaders who lack the experience to run cross-cultural inquiry-based projects. To remedy this, Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington Departments of Education have worked with iEARN ( to provide professional development to teachers on conducting online project work with schools in other countries. Professional development is focused on the technical, collaborative, and organizational skills required to participate in a global and Internet-based learning environment.

Many states use online courses to expand opportunities for students to learn international content. One of the largest providers of online courses is the Florida Virtual High School, through which students can take classes like World Cultures, World Geography, Global Studies, and World History. In Indiana, elementary-level distance learning courses in Chinese are being developed through a Foreign Language Assistance Program grant to  the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities at Ball State University. In Kentucky, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Ministry of Education was signed in the fall of 2005, resulting in a visiting Chinese teacher who created a virtual Chinese language course. The Michigan Virtual High School enables students to take classes taught by certified teachers in subjects and courses that lack adequate staffing statewide. The Chinese courses, for example, now reach over 1,000 students. The North Carolina Virtual Public School offers many AP courses including Comparative Government and Politics and Art History. Whether elective courses or core subjects, distance learning opens up new learning opportunities for students across the country.