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Global Classrooms: Creatively Addressing Global Challenges through Technology-Enhanced Collaboration

October 1, 2013

The Office of International Programs has launched an innovative program that supports faculty in creating international experiences on campus. Through this program, faculty members from various disciplines incorporate a global dimension into the classroom experience, linking students from a similar course at an international partner institution with common assignments and opportunities for electronic interactions. Drexel students cross borders, virtually, and engage with colleagues at the partner university through a range of on-line technologies. Launched in January 2013, the program has fostered a variety of creative and enriching global classrooms that have strengthened students’ intercultural awareness and communication skills and introduced them to partners in Israel, China, India, and Italy. The hope is that all students will be able to participate in a global classroom during their tenure at Drexel.

In addition, the Office of International Programs and IRT provide logistical support for faculty who engage in a global classroom, including technological support. Using social media platforms, such as Tumblr, Facebook and Google Hangout, as well as e-learning technologies, including Drexel Learn and Prezi, students can participate in meaningful collaboration and gain a variety of interactive options that help to overcome time zone differences and language barriers. Faculty may design a course in which students work on the same project, solve a common challenge, or communicate via message board. In certain cases, students may collaborate on an entire course together.

Professors Anne Cecil, Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, and Samir Shah, LeBow College of Business, have been incorporating global classroom components into their curriculum for many years. Professor Cecil moderated a Faculty Forum on the process of creating her global classroom with her partner at the City University of Hong Kong (the presentation can be viewed on the Office of International Programs website. Professor Shah incorporated international collaboration into his Domestic and Global Outsourcing Management course with Ahmedabad University in India.

The global classroom program has benefited both students and faculty. According to Isabella Fidanze, a student in Professor Harriet Levin Millan’s “Your Immigration Story” course, a collaboration with Ben Gurion University, “One of my goals at [Drexel] is to get involved with things that allow me to see diverse perspectives and broaden my basis for opinion; I feel that this course qualified as that kind of experience.”

Professor Harriet Levin Millan shares how her course has greatly benefited students.

"One of the most shocking results of the global classroom was experienced by a student who had immigrated from China when she was seventeen years old. After we studied an Israeli poem written by Dan Pagis, a Holocaust survivor, this student told me that she had learned very little about the Holocaust when she lived in China. Completing our global classroom assignment of analyzing the poem with an Israeli partner changed that. Before their conversation, my student hadn't even known to what the death imagery in the poem referred. I then found out that other students in the class were just as uninformed. If I ever doubted the importance of holding a global classroom, I certainly don't doubt its importance now."

As a testament to the success of the program, nearly all faculty members with established global classrooms continue to offer this mode of study and are expanding the initiative to other courses. In addition, this past Spring, a study abroad component was implemented in one global classroom in Italy, and another is planned in Haiti Summer 2014. Furthermore, the Office of International Programs is currently assisting five faculty members with global classroom courses, with partners in Turkey, Spain, and Germany, and it hopes to expand the number of global classrooms each term. To create a global classroom or to obtain additional information, please contact Heidi West at hsw27@drexel.edu.

This article originall appeared in the Office of the Provost newsletter