Toggle open
Learning Library Blog Global learning lets students take on the world's greatest challenges
Expand breadcrumbs

Global learning lets students take on the world's greatest challenges

By Mali Bickley
January 1, 2017
Img id 875 Version Idy Wms0 H9k A Au7q Et J ylw8x0 S4 Sz Le X Zk

Our world and our classrooms are becoming increasingly interconnected. It’s a movement I’ve seen firsthand as a teacher when I worked with students on authentic lessons that resulted in powerful global messages on topics like climate change. 

How can teachers create learning environments that foster the skills needed to become caring, contributing and creative global citizens? As educators, we have the opportunity to embed global learning opportunities while meeting curriculum goals supported by the 2016 ISTE Standards for Students.

Global learning enables students and teachers to harness the power of technology to develop relationships with their global peers while addressing complex and important global issues. Many of these issues – peace, water and food security, climate change, refugees, child labor and lack of education – are at the forefront of today’s news. With global learning, students can engage in meaningful discussions to solve some of these challenges and create action plans. They discover different perspectives from their global peers and are encouraged to think critically and develop real-world plans to creatively contribute to positive global change.

The new ISTE Standards for Students provide a framework and support for integrating global issues, projects and collaborations in classrooms. Several organizations offer global projects that empower students to become aware, investigate and involve classrooms in global learning.

The following projects are excellent examples of standards-based activities classes can engage in to foster global learning and global citizenship:

Designed by TakingITGlobal, this program encourages students to create and commit small actions to help the planet. Students often become discouraged, thinking that their one small act will not create change. Through this program, students can track their personal actions, for example, eating a meatless meal, and observe how their action contributes to a wider global impact.

Students are empowered by creating individual challenges while contributing to a wider global movement. Teachers have the option to design action challenges within classes locally and globally.

Global Youth Debates
Global Youth Debates creates opportunities for students to critically examine a global issue while exploring a variety of perspectives.

The Global Youth Debates Project invites classrooms, through the Flat Connections Project ( to debate topics such as climate change, global peace and equity.
During debate preparation, classes in diverse parts of the world examine varied points of view to present to their global peers. Students use digital resources to research topics while developing the ideas they want to present. These live online debates are designed to encourage student leadership for community action.

International Learning Circles
The International Education and Resource Network’s (iEARN) Learning Circles are incredible opportunities to learn with classes from a wide range of countries. Issues explored include the My Hero Project, global education equity and environmental concerns.

Learning Circles are facilitated by experienced educators who guide classrooms through a unique learning process. During the 16-week cycle, students use online forums to share their perspectives and ideas about the topics. Each class is then responsible for creating a digital artifact to address each issue.

During the creation process, classrooms connect in virtual classes to provide peer-to-peer feedback. Students can create videos, websites, develop apps or write blog posts to share online at the culmination of the project. Each learning circle integrates several curriculum areas, including sociology, science, government, history and economics.

As a global educator, I am excited to recognize how the new ISTE Standards for Students have become indicators for successful global education initiatives. The new standards validated what I already knew: addressing global issues embedded in meaningful, real-world scenarios, promoting connected learning and goal action fosters the development of global citizens.

Students benefit immensely by participating in global projects and they develop a deeper understanding of global issues, broaden their perspectives and discover opportunities to work together to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.

Mali Bickley is a retired classroom teacher who currently works as a classroom collaboration specialist at TakingITglobal. She believes in the power of connecting students globally and hopes that all learners have the opportunity to make positive change by connecting and learning with each other.