Yogi Berra once said: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” That’s never been more true. We live in an increasingly interconnected world that’s innovating at a breakneck pace; we’ve come a long way from chalkboards, lecture halls, and the occasional update peppered into the same well-worn instructional design tracks. Enter the rise of global learning. Though global learning can be defined in a variety of ways, essentially it’s the process of diverse people collaboratively analyzing and addressing complex problems that transcend borders. In other words, global learning is a rehearsal for real-world problems.

Centering Learning Intent

Much like the real-life situations it seeks to address, global learning often involves technology; but it’s not about tech for tech’s sake. It’s about centering the intent of the learning activity and using the right technology to support it. The Young Masters Programme on Sustainable Development (YMP), as an example, connects students and teachers across the globe with each other as well as resources around understanding sustainability issues and preventive environmental strategies. They then deploy what they’ve learned by starting sustainable projects offline in their communities and sharing the results with their global peers. YMP is set up this way not as an excuse to use online learning, but because connecting with peers around the world makes sense when addressing complex issues with universal aspects.

What Employers Want

When students and future leaders team up to tackle challenges in this way, they develop the adaptive, cross-cultural skills that allow them to work in diverse teams with people all over the world. And employers are chomping at the bit for those skills. Forty million jobs in the US alone are tied to international trade. Growth in jobs that require adaptive skills such as working with new information and solving unstructured problems jumped by 17% and 16% respectively from 1960 to 2009, with all signs pointing to that trend continuing as the world becomes a more connected place. 

Unlock Student Potential with EdTech Tools

Determining how to measure learner progress for something as dynamic as global learning can feel overwhelming. Like with more traditional approaches to learning, students need to demonstrate subject matter knowledge but they also need to show trickier to measure cognitive skills like critical thinking, non-cognitive skills like empathy, and behaviors such as collaboration. That’s a lot to stay on top of! 

Thankfully, technology can step in again to help us out with some of the heavy lifting by integrating whatever applications make the most sense for a particular learning project, personalizing pathways for individual learners, and tracking everything along the way. Solutions like IntelliBoard, which harnesses the mountains of data inside your learning management system (LMS) and translates it into actionable reports and analytics for education communities and institutions, can go a long way toward unlocking the true potential of students in global learning projects and beyond. (If you’re interested in learning more about ways to get powerful insights from your LMS’s data, check out IntelliCon.).

Global learning produces skills employers want and the world desperately needs. The question isn’t whether we as educators should incorporate global learning into modern instructional design, it’s how can we do a better job at it. In this increasingly globalized world, we have a shared future and a shared responsibility; and that future truly ain’t what it used to be.