A Model for Global Distance Education Projects

A Model for Global Distance Education Projects

Cindy Beacham
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 7
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch208
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Globalization of education has become a major focus of many universities and programs over the past several years. Providing international experiences for students is a commitment institutions have made to help students embrace diversity more fully, and prepare more completely for current professional expectations (National On-Campus Report, 2004). Many organizations define international educational experiences as “study abroad” activities, and concentrate on recruiting students for exchange and travel-based programs. This approach, however, is beginning to change (Knight, 2004). Given the current uncertainty in many international settings, students and families are sometimes reluctant to commit to an abroad travel experience. Finances also factor into many student’s decisions about travel. Costs of higher education have risen substantially, and an overwhelming number of students are financing their education through loans requiring repayment upon graduation. Adding a semester or summer abroad to that debt is sometimes unmanageable for students. As a result, some schools are exploring different methods of providing international exposure without requiring students to travel (OECD, 2004). One such method is to create a collaborative experience modeled on an educational design charrette. This activity is typically faculty-driven, and requires that student groups solve a given problem in a limited amount of time and present their solution. For the purposes of a global experience, student teams are composed of diverse students, and the problem would be addressed through digital means. This paper provides a model for such an alternative global experience that can be used in conjunction with, or to replace a travel-based abroad experience.
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International experiences provide a multitude of benefits for everyone involved, however many institutions are rethinking the traditional student exchange (Bisoux, 2003). After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, President Bush declared an initiative to bring young people together with their peers in different countries through the educational process. As a result, a consortium connecting students from over 100 countries called Friendship Through Education was formed (Edutopia, 2002). Programs such as this provide middle and high school students with international opportunities to interact without leaving their classroom. Colleges are also making strides in identifying opportunities for their students to interact globally without requiring travel (Kucko, Prestwood, & Beacham, 2005).

The expectations of college graduates entering the professional world continue to grow as we move into the 21st century. One area of importance has become a student’s exposure to cultures other than their country of origin, and their embrace of diversity. Corporations today are often multinational, maintaining offices and strong business relationships with professionals from many different countries and cultures. Governments are supporting a variety of programs to enhance trade and communications between both advanced and developing countries (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2007; Presidential Initiatives, 2006). Even smaller businesses are experiencing heightened expectations to interact internationally to be competitive.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Study Abroad: Traditional approach to international education in which a student leaves his/her home institution for a set period of time and studies at an institution in another country.

Shared Language: A commonly understood set of references, visions, experiences, and/or interactions that provide a foundation for strong communications.

Design Charrette: Design activity in which individuals or groups engage in a project or problem-solving endeavor. The problem is provided by an outside party, and the solution must be completed and presented in a limited amount of time.

SketchUp: Computer software program providing the ability to quickly view spatial characteristics in 3-dimensions.

Extrinsic Motivation: A drive or stimulus to perform that comes from outside a person, such as a monetary reward for an action.

Intrinsic Motivation: A drive or stimulus to perform that comes from within a person.

Design Component: Method, system, or element used in the process of creating a solution to identified design problems.

Pedagogical Goals: Outcomes identified as desirable given specific educational, academic, or instructional approaches.

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