New Jersey is America’s Garden State, and in the 21st century, the garden has grown to international proportions. Rutgers Business School, delivering programs in both Newark and New Brunswick, has an international “Jersey Roots, Global Reach” motto. Its undergraduate, business management program integrates global studies, where students take study trips to Asia and South America for hands-on, experiential learning in global business. It delivers!
Based on recruiter responses, that global reach program is ranked #3 by the Wall Street Journal for producing the best graduates. New Jersey’s largest state university delivers success as it recognizes modern learning crosses borders.
Good learning is an adventure. In the 21st century, the adventure crashes through walls of traditional classrooms and goes global. Can local, public schools evolve to meet global learning’s challenges? Can local systems undergo transformational change in order to provide learners with keys for modern success?
The 21st century’s educational landscape is changed. A key imperative now is the understanding of learning’s globalization. Education’s challenges, especially in the K-12 system where curriculums require local approval and tend to conservative rates of change, are immense. Tom Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, stated in his book, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree,” that the speed of modern globalization has outpaced the old learning systems.
Within an accelerated evolution of change lies both pitfall and advantage, both survival and extinction. Understanding education’s changed environment is integral to crafting a process of success to permit education’s innovators and policy makers, its learners and its institutions, not only to teach the world but also to learn from it.
Why evolve a new model?
“The Free OnLine Dictionary of computing” defines meta as a prefix meaning a higher level. Can metanational education develop concepts of a higher nature? While acknowledging parameters and forces of the nation state, metanational education addresses 21st century realities that reach across borders and beyond nations.
Metanational education in the digital era is about issues of integration and the mobilization of knowledge’s relational opportunities. Powerful metanational education empowers individual learners, addresses local needs, and enables innovation’s systemic growth. Modern metanational education drives toward strategies explicitly designed to respect the traditional reality of nation states within the complex context of dispersed knowledge in a worldwide arena.
Can we just tweak the old model?
A 21st century learning environment won’t be the one room school house with the teacher at a slate board and passive students seated in orderly, silent rows. Still, metanational environments won’t discard the educational roles of mentors, guides, and facilitators or the natural components of socialization and local human interactions.
A true metanational learning model provides a responsive environment both localized and globalized based on shared humanity and individual differences. Successful metanational education creates a balance for individualized and localized customization in a dynamic process of collaborative, global opportunities.
What about your child and your school? Is the adventure beginning around you?
- Does your school have a global curriculum? Does its curriculum include the study of world languages and cultures? Think of a global curriculum as a basic core, a necessary component that strengthens metanational education.
- Does your school use technology to open up learning choices, collaborative opportunities, and active resources beyond the walls of the traditional classroom? Look for interactions where a school or classroom is one hub within an active, national and international learning network. Think of good technology as an enabler that puts the learner first; technology is a tool to open global vistas and diverse learning strategies.
- Does your school have project-based learning opportunities and multiple ways for learners to demonstrate understanding and attainment of curricular skill levels? Look for opportunities like web-based course offerings to other schools in the district, linkages to on-line university resources, well-evaluated game-based learning strategies, and learning projects in collaborative, global communities facilitated by technology. Think in terms of how lifelong learning is being empowered.
Waiting is not an option for this generation of learners. Push hard at your school for an emphasis on metanational perspectives in existent curriculums. Encourage real world experiences, local and global, receive academic credit at your school. Push for skills-based credit, rather than seat- time-based credit. Press for school projects that have real world and technology-assisted connections to local, state, national, and international resources. Be a watch dog and make sure installed technologies are made available to all learners, can connect them to larger learning networks, and are integrated powerfully into curricular programs. Advocate for technology connections to native speakers and global cultures as you press for the inclusion of world languages and multinational offerings.
At the state level, New Jersey builds global vision into its current education technology plan developed by its Department of Education and adopted by the NJ State Board of Education. The plan’s vision statement targets that “All students will be prepared to meet the challenge of a dynamic global society,” and its first goal specifies “All students will be prepared to excel . . . in our global society using 21st century skills.”
To examine that state document more closely, you can download a PDF of the planfor free at http://www.nj.gov/education/techno/state_plan.htm
Going global in education demands the integration of policy, technology support, and savvy advocacy and action. The stakes are high for today’s learners, but the educational process of meaningful skill development for a worldwide stage is underway.
There is a new order. If it is to be a higher order, then 21st century education must understand the electronic and human network’s global nature and harness its potential. As parents and learners evaluate local systems, calls for global learning opportunities create rippling effects. Everything is connected. With local demands for metanational education and its keys to success, evolving regional systems push and influence designs in global structures.
It matters. Everyone has a stake in real learning’s empowerment. If education succeeds in a dynamic evolution respectful of a global nature that is responsive to shared connectivity and cultural differences, then 21st century learning can harness education’s living, transformational powers. Empowerment of shared opportunities on a worldwide scale is the human adventure.