Thursday, August 18, 2016

Global education: Leading pedagogical change in a flat world


In an earlier blog post I examined the new globally connected, flat learning environment and how leaders can shape this change to revitalize their schools. This time I will examine the expectations of a global education leader’s ability to think holistically and differently in order to lead pedagogical change. Emerging practices with technology that support collaboration such as sharing, dialogue, and participation, are not new and leaders must demonstrate and model collaborative practices to support pedagogical change. Fullan, Langworthy, and Barber (2014) discuss “new pedagogies” arising from the new learning partnership between and among students and educators when using digital technologies for deeper learning across the globe. Pedagogical capacity, an educator’s repertoire of teaching strategies and partnerships for learning, has and will continue to change as technology becomes more pervasive, such as the emergence of Web 2.0 where learning is organised around the user as a node in the network, rather than around the educator.


The outlier global education leader

In an attempt to categorise emerging practices, new labels for global education leaders include the term “outlier.” According to Arteaga (2012) an outlier teacher is a K-12 educator who self-directs to create and develop an innovative pedagogy using emerged or emerging digital social media through collaborative and global open networking. We need to examine the outlier phenomenon as it applies to recent experiences in terms of education leaders who may be identified as outliers, and secondly, education leaders who need to be able to identify outliers in their learning environments in order to positively support them. Global education leadership either needs to emulate or be able to recognize and support this as a vehicle for purposeful professional action leading to ubiquitous learning. This also has implications for recruitment within a learning institution to ensure outliers are included and that innovation in global learning is being supported from within.

What are some new pedagogical approaches?

Flat learning is part of an emerging pedagogical approach enabled by online technologies and has parallels with connected learning, but in many ways goes beyond just connecting.
A global education leader must understand these three essential actions to flatten the learning:
  1. Connect the learning – it is the responsibility of the learner and education leader to connect through their PLN and PLC networks and to understand the consequences of these connections (cultural, social and political)
  2. Build global citizenship practices – a responsible, active learner will be a reliable contributor and collaborator
  3. Collaborate for shared outcomes and solutions – partnerships and new global learning opportunities are a lot closer through the use of emerging technologies
The pillars that make this work are Web 2.0, learning design, leadership and new approaches to pedagogy.
A global education leader has to know how to build virtual and real learning communities – and then blend them! Maybe the “real” (synchronous and face-to-face) is taken for granted…but its definition needs expounding here. It is one thing to build a working and learning internal (to the school or the organization) learning community, but another to then broaden this to include “significant others.” As a generalization, one thing educators traditionally have not been good at is sharing, and once the words “community” and “collaboration” are used it often sends them scuttling back to the classroom. Leadership is paramount in this scenario for building communities online, and cultivating to see them grow and expand.
A global education leader must understand online citizenship modes and behaviours and also model and promote a positive mindset for global connections. Being online as a leader with other learners is an essential requirement here and yes, often there are a myriad of other priorities on the learning landscape vying for time, however leadership = digital = online = citizenship for learning….it’s that simple! Individualistic approaches to Internet use often produce ethical blindspots and “disconnects”.


The missing piece?

An even newer concept, “Cosmogogy”, coined by the author of this post, refers to the study of learning while connected to the world by using online technologies, whereby the context of learning is “with” rather than “about.” This puts the learner at the center of the “universe,” a node on the network, with the capability of reaching out and connecting to anything and anyone in order to find information and build understanding, in order to collaborate and to co-create with anyone, anywhere, anytime. It also means learners approach problems and solutions from a more openly networked and in fact global perspective to the point that “unflat” learning feels strange and closed in.
A global education leader knows how to foster and support approaches to learning while connected to others in any part of the world. The leader, most importantly, considers the benefits and advantages of who you work with and what you construct together.

About the Author
Julie Lindsay is a global collaboration consultant, innovator, teacherpreneur and author and is currently a Quality Learning & Teaching Leader (Online), and an adjunct lecturer for the Faculty of Arts and Education, Charles Sturt University in Australia. She is completing an EdD at the University of Southern Queensland with research focusing on online global collaborative educators and pedagogical change. For 15 years she worked as an education leader in digital technology, online learning, and curriculum across Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Her new book, The Global Educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning and teaching, published by ISTE, shares many stories, approaches, updated practices, and case studies from K-20 on how to connect, collaborate and co-create, and take learning global. Find out more about Julie through her website and follow her on Twitter @julielindsay.


Arteaga, Soraya. Self-directed and transforming outlier classroom teachers as global connectors in experiential learning. (2012): 1-226.

Fullan, Michael, and Maria Langworthy. A rich seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning. 2014. Retrieved from

This blog post first appeared on the Pearson Education Blog

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