Curriculum 21 Another Look: Global Trends & Global Learning 2/5

21 ch 6 scitechThis is the second of five posts about chapter 6, “A Classroom as a Wide World” by Vivien Stewart, in Heidi Hayes Jacobs’ Curriculum 21. In the first post, I describe the context and purpose of these posts. I recommend starting there. But briefly, my goal is to look again at each of the five global trends – Economics, Science and Technology, Demographics, Security and Citizenship, and Education – and see how they’ve changed. Then since Stewart uses these trends to determine what global learning skills our students need, I share how shifts in these trends impact these skills.

#Science and Technology Here Stewart began with how information and communications technology supports global supply chains, links international scientific research teams, and facilitates global collaboration. In 2016, we continue to see this and not just in STEM fields.

April brought the largest expose in terms of documents (11.5 million) and organizations (over 100 from over 80 countries). Now called the Panama Papers.When German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung first received the documents, it reached out to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Back in April, On the Media’s Bob Garfield interviewed Gerard Ryle, the head of the ICIH, about how they tackled this massive document dump. Ryle says they created a searchable database and a virtual newsroom to help funnel documents:

If someone was interested, for instance, in drug dealers or diamond dealers or, or say a country like Iceland or Brazil, they could form their own groups and then have chats and searches and links to documents and other findings in there.

But the other big advantage of working in this way is that we had what I would call native reporters looking at native names. So the Brazilians were looking at the Brazilian names, the Icelandic reporter was looking at the Icelandic names. And so, you were very quickly able to establish if someone was a politician or a public official, someone of public interest.

Ryle continues to explain how journalists—who, I’ll speculate, were probably once humanities majors and non-STEM graduates—not only used ICT (information and communications technology) but built programs to meet their specific needs. They also needed to know enough about security to keep these documents and their work secret until they were ready to publish. Ways of communicating and collaborating across borders is the #Science and Technology trend we should pay attention to.

But how people from other countries use technology to communicate is not the same. Since 2010, the popularity of messaging apps has eclipsed email. In 2010, WhatsApp was just starting out, but that year also brought Facebook Messenger, WeChat, Kakao Talk, and Line. Following this trend larger communication companies integrated chat: Google+ Hangouts, Evernote Work Chat, and Cisco Spark all came on to the scene in 2013. This may seem like a crowded market, but actually, it’s country-specific.

For example, WhatsApp is the largest messenger service today, but it is not the messaging service used by most South Koreans. That’s KakaoTalk. When asked how South Koreans use email, Elise Hu on Note to Self states, “Because of the popularity of KakaoTalk, email isn’t that common.” She then describes how she communicates with other parents from her child’s school: a KakaoTalk group.

Tangentially, different cultures have different usage habits and etiquette regarding technology. In France, Eleanor Beardsley reports that in business meetings the phone is off, and “Lunch is still sacrosanct. You don’t take calls at lunch.” But in South Korea, “Everyone is glued to their phones.”

I agree with Stewart across languages and’s statement that “The ability to collaborate with people in different time zones, across cultures, at a professional level, becomes ever more important” but the potential barriers students should be aware of (time zones, languages, and cultural differences) are too narrow (99).

My examples show that international research and development teams must establish communication norms, which will be influenced by their individual culture. Global learning for students needs to include how cultures use technology and what etiquette governs technology’s use. During a business luncheon with executives in France, you don’t want to want to pull out your phone, even if it’s a KakaoTalk update from your software development team telling you that the server is down.

But what else comes to mind? Are there any unique cultural norms about technology that you know? That students should know?

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