What is a Global Learner?

During our TIGed class this week one of the participants asked the question “What is a global learner?” This launched a discussion about 21st Century skills and learning experiences that include opportunities for collaboration, communication, citizenship, character, creativity and critical thinking (Michael Fullan’s 6Cs). Building these skills is important for 21st century learners. In his book Who Owns the Learning, Alan November says that we can no longer follow the traditional model of school where success is determined by the willingness to learn how to be taught. He talks about the importance of developing authentic global learning experiences that are based on critical thinking and problem solving skills. Alan’s Digital Learning Farm model leverages the powerful motivators of student ownership in the learning process and purposeful contribution, to build real and lasting learning. Where the 21st century skills or essential skills centre around students learning how to ask questions and learning to learn.

Dan Pink points out, in his book Drive, that the most important predictors of high quality work are autonomy, mastery and purpose. How often do we give students the opportunity to direct their own learning or master a subject before we move on? But most importantly do we give them a purpose for their work? We need to create learning experiences that enable students to contribute to the curriculum or their community and in the process develop essential skills like the 6Cs, the Ontario learning skills and those on the list Mark Barnes shares in his book 5 Skills for the Global Learner: What Everyone Needs to Navigate the Digital World.

Our students are living in a digital world, making it essential that we integrate digital citizenship into how we teach. Research supported frameworks like TPACK and SAMR tell us that learning technology alone is not enough to make an impact on student achievement and learning. We need to help students build digital skills that will take them beyond learning about a particular device or app because tools change and evolve. With the inclusion of digital citizenship we can further guide students to develop their digital literacy skills and global perspectives.

Author Mark Barnes describes the global learner as someone who is a lifelong learner that curates, maintains, creates and shares content. A person, not defined by age, occupation or experiences but someone who understands that as soon as they share or interact with content online they are both a student and a teacher. We have much to learn from each other! Students like Adora Svitak remind us of how important it is to listen and learn from our students. In her Ted Talk: What adults can learn from kids she urges us to trust our students, raise our expectations, rethink our classrooms and allow our students to teach us too.

Becoming a global learner is a way of thinking. A mindset. With this approach to learning and teaching we can emerge as global educators that inspire students to be reflective consumers, innovative creators and lifelong learners that choose to make a difference in the classroom, school community and beyond!


About Marci Duncan

Technology Instructional Resource Teacher K-12 for #SCDSB; Google Educator; Co-chair of #edcampbarrie. You can contact me at mduncan@scdsb.on.ca
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One Response to What is a Global Learner?

  1. Pingback: Digital Citizenship is HOW we Teach – Meaningful Dreaming

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