Digital Education for Global Citizenship

It is easy to get the idea that mobile devices, especially smartphones, are no more than devices to amuse or take pictures. In most commercials and advertisements about them, no one actually uses a smartphone to talk with anybody, but globe1everyone is using them to text, listen to music, or take and post images. That view, though, may be more one of a privileged user group, because in much of the world, a cell phone is the sole computing device—if there is a computing device at all. The luxury of having a laptop, a tablet or two, an e-reader, as well as a couple of smartphones is not even fathomable to most in developing nations.

Just as incomprehensible is understanding the chance spin of that geographic roulette wheel to land some of us in a place on the globe where most things are plentiful, and far more others in places where even day-to-day survival is more than challenging. It is far too easy to become wrapped up in your local world, and far more difficult to learn, teach, and get involved internationally. For the most part, global citizenship education needs a swift digital kick.

Educators, parents, and grandparents have an obligation to share with students and children far more than the world as something surrounding their home or school—or inside four classroom walls. Using digital devices to learn that many children have never been to school, and that the classroom, if there is one, may have children gathering by a tree with a piece of cardboard as the only presentation tool is important. The apps, cameras, games, audio, video, writing options, and Internet places that digital devices can provide also place value on citizenship, but in a more global way. Digitally, educators need to tear down the walls with their teaching, daily. Taking students on the global field trip beyond whatever their school environment is, and showing them how to reach out further than their own time zone are necessary lessons. But it’s more than a lesson for children. While some educators are already working internationally, it is a learning process for those who have planned only inside the classroom walls, and have not taken their classes global. There is time, and this is the time to introduce yourself and your students to the world.

Note: There are many organized efforts to get educators and learners involved. Here are a few:

Education Fast Forward Debates

Haller Education Programs

TakingITGlobal

Peace One Day

Ken Royal

Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology teaching experience, as well as a blogger on all things education and education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is an Education storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.
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