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The Global Classroom - An Opportunity for Empowerment or Exploitation? - Publication

Last updated Aug 15, 2023

# Information

# Highlights

Similar thesis as Atlas/Projects/Fast Food Education?

is the global classroom an opportunity for ==empowerment through capacity building== or is it simply a ==new technology for exploitation that serves to maintain longstanding oppressive relationships between the rich and poor==?

To focus on here: delivering online programs

How does transnational higher education promote or impair local capacitybuilding? ==What are some best practices in delivering quality online programs?== Finally, whatare some ways to promote successful transnational educational partnerships?

Transnational education has been dened by the Council of Europe(Europe, 2001) as, “those arrangements and partnerships between institutions and organiza-tions in which students are located in a different country to the one where the institutionproviding the education is based.”

==Increasing demand== and the opportunities afforded by ==technological developments== haveprompted some to point out that our ==educational institutions are outmoded and are unableto respond to these challenges.== For example, Siemmens (2008) argues that ==institutional bar-riers== and the relatively ==slow adoption of new technologies== have led to a slow response toburgeoning global need. Day (2005) adds that this imbalance between global supply anddemand for access, “makes the imperative of providing a decent education for all one of thegreatest moral challenges of our age” (p. 186).

In terms of its benets, the OECD and World Bank ( 2007) have notedthat transnational education provides ==additional capacity for countries (e.g., China) to meetthe demand for higher education.== Others can ==benet from foreign experience and knowledge== to improve the quality of their education system. Accordingly, it may also ==help to expand a higher education system== and to ==increase the country’s supply of highly skilled workers andacademics.== Inter-institutional partnerships may provide opportunities for organizational learning for local institutions relating to the quality and relevance of their services. The ad-dition of transnational programming also adds ==variety and choice== to domestic systems. Hope(2005) adds that transnational educational programs ==introduce competition and the potentialfor greater innovation== in the available educational programs. She also notes that the ==range,prestige and quality of domestic programs may be enhanced== through domestic/foreign part-nerships. Of course, when one considers the cost of relocation, accommodation and interna-tional fees associated with studying abroad, Hope has observed that there is often a ==cost savings== to the student associated with the delivery of transnational programs. Hope (2005)and others have also noted that transnational distance programs may ==reduce the magnitudeof “brain drain”== arising when domestic students travel abroad for desired programs. Brain drain may be reduced in two ways. First, given the capacity of elearning technologies totranscend vast distances provides opportunities for those who have migrated in student ex-change programs to ==keep in contact with their homelands and may participate in capacitybuilding== through teaching in elearning programs (Altbach et al., 2009). Second, and moreimportantly, given access to the global classroom, domestic graduates can ==remain at hometo contribute to the local knowledge economy. ==Moreover, given that approximately half ofthe world’s instructors hold no more than a bachelor’s degree, and most of those are in thedeveloping world, transnational partnerships ==may bring needed expertise and professionaldevelopment== to disadvantaged countries.

However, as noted by the OECD and World Bank ( 2007), the global classroom is not a panacea. There have been concerns raised about the ==quality of foreign programs== and ==“rogue” or bogus providers== (Hope, 2005). Foreign provision may simply provide ==short-term, unsus-tainable imported capacity that vanishes when the domestic demand or resources run out.==The acquisition of foreign credentials may result in brain drain. ==The simple importation ofpre-packaged programs may lead to the comodication of education== (Hope, 2005). It mayalso be ==irrelevant to local needs, or worse, culturally inappropriate and lead to a devaluationof local knowledge== (Lien, 2006) and ==cultural homogenization== (Askeland & Payne, 2007 ).==Patterns of domination== may be maintained, as Larsson, Boud, Dahlgren, Walters and Sork(2005) observed, by domestic institutions and students who demand that foreign providersoffer content identical to its home country. However, such a stipulation may lead to ==culturally irrelevant programming and the devaluation of local knowledge.== Hope (2005) has similarlynoted similar impacts arising from ==the use of English and standardized curriculum ratherthan national language and culturally appropriate curriculum.== Such programs, that are generally much more expensive than domestic programs, ==may worsen equity problems== if foreignprograms are only available to afuent families. Indeed, the cost of these programs may besimply out of the reach of many of the students in need of such programs and thus may nothave any noticeable impact in meeting the demand for higher education. There is also theconcern of ==widening the “digital divide”== (Allport, 2001; Hope, 2005) and ==domestic socialand economic disparities== (Colle & Roman, 2004). Similar concerns are observed for domesticeducational institutions that lack the resources of foreign providers and may be restricted bydomestic funding and regulatory regimes.

==The idea of universal knowledge, skills and values…is a prerequisite for a global mar-ket==…Relationships between developed, powerful countries and cultures and developing,powerless countries and cultures are like ==colonial relationships== in a new way. (pg. 164)

Forms of open and distance learning offered around the world by institutions in English-speaking developed nations might …constitute an ==invasion that colonizes and denieslocal culture and knowledge and underestimates learners==. (Larsson et al 2005, p. 62)

For some the impact of globalization on higher education offers exciting new opportun-ities for study and research ==no longer limited by national boundaries==. For others thetrend represents an ==assault on national culture and autonomy.== It is undoubtedly both.(Altbach, Riesberg & Rumbley, 2009, p.ii-iii)

For those who will be teaching in the global classroom, competency involves more thanacademic credentials and prociency, as instructors also need to become more ==culturally, ifnot globally, competent.== Heffernan and Poole (2005) note global competency begins with ==self-awareness of one’s own cultural norms and expectations.== Additionally, others suggestthat the global teacher needs to approach the classroom with ==acceptance and curiosity==; thatis, having an open mind while seeking to understand cultural norms and expectations ofstudents (Hunter, White, & Godbey, 2006). In this way, the instructor’s awareness of themulticultural context will enable him or her to recognize cultural differences and multipleperspectives as assets rather than obstacles to teaching. Where appropriate, the instructormay also need to ==recognize and respond to differences between high and low context cultures==(Germain-Rutherford & Kerr, 2008) and ==adopt greater exibility and use a variety of instruc-tional tools, methodologies and student/instructor roles== (Seufert, 2002). Given the widevariations of technological resources, global instructors also should ==value simplicity== in theirchoice of technological tools used in the virtual classroom

The ==emergence of south east Asian economies== has dramatically increased the demand for higher education. The dramatic expan-sion and demand for higher education has raised concerns about the ==quality of programming== and prompted ==calls for regulation== of this sector.

While higher edu-cation has often provided opportunities to build local capacity and reduce levels of poverty,depending upon the levels of support provided by government and the aims of institutions,the global classroom ==may offer empowerment or a reenactment of a tragic colonial legacy==.In sum, with ==knowledge comes responsibility as well as power==, given the direction from in-ternational bodies, the choices that we make as educators and institutions will reveal the true nature of our project.