Globalization, Digital Technology, and Teacher Education in the United States
Summary and Keywords
Generally, as a result of the need for many schools to compete on a global level, the use of digital technologies has increased in teacher education programs as well as in U.S. public schools. The dynamics of globalization and digital technologies also continue to influence teacher preparation programs, with multiple implications for educational policies and practices in U.S. public schools. Rapidly emerging developments in technologies and the digital nature of 21st-century learning environments have shaped and transformed the ways learners access, process, and interpret both the general pedagogical content knowledge and discipline-specific content in teaching and learning. Ultimately, the roles of students and teachers in digital learning environments must change to adapt to the dynamic global marketplace. In practice, these changes reiterate the need for teacher educators to prepare skilled teachers who are able to provide social and academic opportunities for building a bridge from a monocultural pedagogical framework to a globally competent learning framework, which is critical to addressing the realities of 21st-century classroom experiences. Specifically, there is a need to equip teacher candidates with cultural competency and digital skills to effectively prepare learners for a digital and global workplace. The lack of cultural competency skills, knowledge, attitudes, and dispositions implies potential social and academic challenges that include xenophobia, hegemony, and classroom management issues. The development of 21st-century learning skills is also central to the preparation of digital and global citizens. The 21st-century globalization skills include communication skills, technological literacy and fluency, negotiations skills, knowledge on geography, cultural and social competency, and multiculturalism. To be relevant in the era of globalization, teacher education programs should take the lead on providing learners with knowledge that promotes global awareness and the 21st-century learning skills required to become responsible global and digital citizens.
Keywords: competency skills, digital citizenship, digital technologies, diversity, globalization, global citizens, global competencies, global teachers, 21st-century learning skills, teacher education
Globalization is “the intensification of worldwide social relations which link distant localities in such a way that local happenings are shaped by events occurring many miles away and vice versa” (Burbules & Torres, 2000, p. 29). Globalization impacts education policy development and trends around the world. In particular, teacher education programs have a pivotal role to play in preparing learners to acquire 21st-century skills that will enable them to function in a digital and global society. This is critical as education plays a significant role in responding to, promoting, and enhancing globalization.
To be able to prepare graduates to succeed in a global world requires teacher educators to develop knowledge and understanding of similarities and differences between cultures. As classrooms in U.S. public schools continue to grow more diverse, it is necessary for the teaching force not only to make pedagogical adjustments, but also to understand and explore strategies to work with diverse groups of culture, religion, ethnicity, and language that these learners represent in the classroom. Establishing sound pedagogy rooted in cultural understanding of the learners is also critical given that racial, cultural, and linguistic integration has the potential to increase academic success for all learners (Smith, 2004).
Teachers have a significant role in preparing learners to live in a society that encourages and values personal and cultural differences. To achieve this role, teachers need to be aware of their own biases, strive to learn about students’ cultural backgrounds, and find ways to bring students’ backgrounds into the classroom. Further, they need to find ways to create a link between home and school, and set high expectations for all students. The central argument here is that teacher educators should strive to manage the challenges and maximize the opportunities for globalization though the integration of culturally relevant pedagogy that is innovative and learner-centered. Additionally, a balanced coexistence between globalization and teacher education involves deliberate efforts among stakeholders to enhance and promote global awareness and digital citizenship in schools.
Generally, as a result of the need for many schools to compete on a global level, the use of digital technologies and applications has increased in teacher education and public schools. The dynamics of globalization and digital technologies also continue to influence teacher preparation programs with multiple implications for educational policies and practices in U.S. public schools. Rapidly emerging developments in technologies and the digital nature of 21st-century learning environments have shaped and transformed the ways learners access, process, and interpret the general and discipline-specific pedagogical content in teaching and learning. Ultimately, the roles of students and teachers in digital learning environments must change to adapt to the dynamic global marketplace. In practice, these changes reiterate the need to prepare global teachers who can effectively prepare digital learners to live and work globally—global citizens.
As U.S. public education continues to evolve, favoring transformative digital content and more learner-centered pedagogies, teacher educators need to focus not only on best practices and innovative pedagogies to engage digital learners but also the acquisition of global and cultural competencies that positively affect and improve student learning. Instructors have a responsibility to provide positive and safe learning environments that meet the needs of culturally diverse learners. They also need to use digital and interactive media to empower and support 21st-century learners to collaborate with others and become engaged as global citizens. Considine, Horton, and Moorman (2009) suggest that teachers should “help all students to analyze and evaluate each media message for text, context, and impact to produce more knowledgeable, creative, and cooperative citizens for the Global Village” (p. 10).
Effects of Globalization on Teacher Education
The development of the teaching profession is tied to the process of translating global trends to teacher preparation (Kim, 2007). Globalization impacts our lives, including the world economies, societies, people, cultures, and education (Frost, 2011; Pineau, 2008). In response to the need for teachers to prepare learners for a global economy (García, Arias, Murri, & Serna, 2010), it is imperative for teachers to cultivate and enhance the intercultural competence, digital competence, global awareness, and digital citizenship that are critical for graduates to live and work in a globalized and multicultural 21st-century economy. Teacher education programs should help teachers develop the ability to initiate changes in their culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms using critical personal and professional knowledge alongside the knowledge gained from their students (Ball, 2009). Teacher education programs also need to align teacher candidates’ teaching and learning experiences with their students’ backgrounds, schools, communities, and families (García et al., 2010).
To provide a competitive advantage in the 21st-century workplace, teacher education programs must prepare graduates to have the right knowledge, skills, and values to transfer to learners, including the teaching of science, mathematics, and technological literacy; multilingual oral, reading, and communication competence; and the ability to understand different cultures and use such understandings to work with different individuals (Longview Foundation, 2008). The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards (International Society for Technology Education, 2017) formerly known as the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), provide benchmarks for the use of technology in teaching and learning. The revised seven ISTE standards for students include:
1. Empowered Learner: As “empowered learners” students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
2. Digital Citizen: As “digital citizens” students recognize the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living, learning, and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical.
3. Knowledge Constructor: As “knowledge constructors” students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts, and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
4. Innovative Designer: As “innovative designers” students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful, or imaginative solutions.
5. Computational Thinker: As “computational thinkers” students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions.
6. Creative Communicator: As “creative communicators,” students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats, and digital media appropriate to their goals.
7. Global Collaborator: As “global collaborators” students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally (International Society for Technology Education, 2017).
Townsend (2011) suggests some implications at the policy level for school and classroom practice and consequently for the training of both teachers and school leaders. He advocates for the need to change classroom practice in the directions of “thinking globally,” “acting locally,” and “thinking and acting both locally and globally.” For example, thinking globally means, for curriculum, “Recognition that in the international market, students need to have high levels of education in order to be successfully employed”; and for assessment, “Recognition that being internationally competitive involves understanding how well students are learning in comparison to others, both locally and globally” (p. 122).
Diversity in U.S. Public Schools
The population demographic in American public schools is constantly changing. The number of immigrants, for instance, has increased, contributing to the growth of the resident population of the United States and the nation’s student diversity. However, preservice teachers report lacking adequate sociocultural knowledge and competence to work with students from diverse backgrounds, and it is challenging for them to obtain comprehensive support and training from teacher preparation programs prior to their student practices (Morales, 2016). Therefore, “a diverse learning community in teacher education programs is critical to our ability to prepare teachers for diverse schools” (Zeichner, 2010, p. 19). In addition, teachers need appropriate dispositions to become culturally responsive educators (Villegas & Lucas, 2002).
The 2015–2016 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) estimates that about 77% of public school teachers are female—up slightly from 76% in 2012. In elementary schools, nearly nine in 10 teachers are female (NCES, 2017). There has been remarkable progress in terms of preparing teacher candidates for the diversity they will encounter in their future classrooms (Liggett & Finley, 2009). However, many schools still remain separate and unequal (Cook, 2015). Further, the elementary and secondary school teacher workforce is still not as racially diverse as the population at large or the students.
The United States is home to immigrant learners from across the globe, many of whom speak a language other than English. Most of the immigrant learners are English language learners (ELLs). ELLs represent the fastest growing subgroup of students in America’s public school classrooms, with current projections that by the year 2025, one in four students in mainstream classrooms will be classified as an ELL (Ferlazzo & Sypnieski, 2012). The number of ELL students also increased by 60% in the last decade, as compared with 7% growth among the general student population (Grantmakers for Education, 2013). While some ELL students are immigrants and refugees, 85% of pre-kindergarten to fifth grade ELL students and 62% of sixth to 12th grade ELL students were born in the United States (Zong & Batalova, 2015).
The continued growth of the ELL student population will require teacher preparation programs to equip teachers with the cross-cultural knowledge and skills needed to address this group of students (DelliCarpini, 2008). Teacher education programs need to identify and implement effective strategies to support and engage ELL students, such as creating positive and inclusive learning environments. Public schools, on their part, should focus on ways to deliver high-quality instruction as well as foster a positive climate that enhances the potential of ELL students to successfully attain language proficiency and high academic achievement while valuing their native languages and cultural backgrounds. Although multiple studies have acknowledged the rapid increase of ELLs in U.S. public school classrooms, “teacher education and professional development has not yet caught up with the demographic shift” (Ballantyne, Sanderman, & Levy, 2008, p. 10).
Some programs, such as bilingual projects, have demonstrated that student learning can improve remarkably when students are not required to renounce their cultural heritage (Nieto & Bode, 2012). As a result, ELL teachers should strive to create classroom environments where all students (including ELLs) feel valued and safe to engage in learning and developing their communication skills. This requires an increased awareness and understanding of the diversity and unique needs of all learners and best practices for differentiating instruction to target the unique needs of individual learners. However, due to lack of funding from U.S. states to sustain the few programs that support diversity (Nieto & Bode, 2012), effective instruction that is focused on the unique identities of every learner still remains a big challenge in many public schools.
The majority of U.S. public school teachers report a lack of confidence to adequately meet the needs of diverse classrooms (Hollins & Torres-Guzman, 2005), especially those with backgrounds different from that of the teachers (Helfrich & Bean, 2011). Although diversity is an important element in public education, many teacher education programs continue to teach as if diversity were either nonexistent or a problem to be overcome (Beykont, 2002). Additionally, many public school teachers struggle to teach students with backgrounds different from their own (Sadker & Zittleman, 2013). Thus, when teachers ignore or reject different cultural expressions of development that are normal and adequate and on which school skills and knowledge can be built, conflicts can occur which might lead to student failure (Nieto & Bode, 2012).
A teacher’s understanding of the cultural context of children’s behavior and the explicit teaching of classroom rules such as respect for other cultures and people allows a child who is culturally diverse a successful transition from home to school culture. In practice, teachers should go beyond the cultural mismatch theory (Sowers, 2004) to ensure high expectations for all learners as well as ensure that those expectations are realized. Teachers from less diverse backgrounds should also acknowledge that they have their own racial background that affects their perspective of the learning process (Burt et al., 2009). To ensure that teachers have an appropriate understanding of their children:
Teacher training should include training in different minority studies so that teachers of European ancestry would be less likely to misinterpret behavior and be more likely to expect academic success from not only their white students but their culturally diverse students as well.
(Burt et al., 2009)
Teaching a culturally and linguistically diverse group of students requires a multifaceted approach; there is more than one approach to responding to cultural diversity in the classroom. Irrespective of the approach used, teachers should attempt to “even the playing field” so that the languages and cultures of individual students are perceived as equally valued and powerful. Gay (2002) explains, “There are several recurrent trends in how formal school curricula deal with ethnic diversity that culturally responsive teachers need to correct. Among them are avoiding controversial issues such as racism, historical atrocities, powerlessness, and hegemony” (p. 108).
Embracing cultural diversity means that all children have equal opportunities to learn in a safe and conducive environment (Keengwe, 2010). Further, for students to apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that foster cross-cultural competence, it is imperative for teachers to model the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of culturally competent professionals. As the nation’s population becomes more culturally diverse, public schools should reflect that diversity and prepare students to live and work in a global society by creating and supporting learning environments where all students understand and value cultural differences. In the context of globalization, cutting-edge public schools are those that embrace cultural diversity and incorporate pedagogical practices that view diversity as an asset in all the processes of teaching and learning.
Global Competencies and Citizenship
Cultural competence is defined as the ability to successfully approach and educate students who come from diverse backgrounds, and it is associated with the development of personal and interpersonal awareness and sensitivity, knowledge of sociocultural appreciation, and skills that underline intercultural teaching and learning (Moule, 2011). To enhance quality teaching in diverse learning environments, teacher candidates need to possess cultural competence and strong skills to understand responsive pedagogies, and integrate sociocultural awareness into their practices (Milner, 2013; Sleeter & Milner, 2011). Culturally responsive teaching is recommended when dealing with controversial concepts and integrates curriculum with diverse ethnic groups while also discussing issues of race, class, ethnicity, and gender from multiple perspectives (Gay, 2002). There is strong evidence of “instructional techniques that increase both the academic and human relations benefits of interracial schooling” (Orfield, 2001, p. 9).
To better prepare 21st-century teachers, teacher education programs need to model teacher educator global competencies. A globally competent teacher is one who possesses the competencies, attitudes, and habits of mind necessary for successful cross-cultural engagement at home and abroad (Global Teacher Education, 2013). Further, globally competent teachers demonstrate the following characteristics and guide their students to do the same: (a) investigate the world beyond their immediate environment, framing significant problems and conducting well-crafted and age-appropriate research; (b) recognize perspectives, others’ and their own, articulating and explaining such perspectives thoughtfully and respectfully; (c) communicate ideas effectively with diverse audiences, bridging geographic, linguistic, ideological, and cultural barriers; and (d) take action to improve conditions, viewing themselves as players in the world and participating reflectively.
The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) also describes global competencies as a set of dispositions, knowledge, and skills needed to live and work in a global society. These competencies include attitudes that embrace an openness, respect, and appreciation for diversity, valuing of multiple perspectives, empathy, and social responsibility; knowledge of global issues and current events, global interdependence, world history, culture, and geography; and the ability to communicate across cultural and linguistic boundaries, collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds, think critically and analytically, problem-solve, and take action on issues of global importance.
Scott, Sheridan, and Clark (2014) developed a pedagogical framework that incorporates global competencies and may increase achievement of students from marginalized groups. The framework, known as Culturally Responsive Computing (CRC), consists of five tenets, based on examples from their prior professional experiences: (a) all students are capable of digital innovation; (b) the learning context supports transformational use of technology; (c) learning about oneself along various intersecting sociocultural lines allows for technical innovation; (d) technology should be a vehicle by which students reflect and demonstrate understanding of their intersectional identities; and (e) barometers for technological success should consider who creates, for whom, and to what ends rather than who endures a socially and culturally irrelevant curriculum (pp. 9–10).
The framework is also intended to bridge the digital divide and promote globalization in teacher education. Based on their framework, they recommend researchers “construct new methods for determining more nuanced outcomes,” suggest the study of diverse groups with a multi-intersectionality approach, and “encourage practitioners to revise curriculum in more culturally responsive ways.” They envisage a transdisciplinary team of “community leaders, computer scientists, social justice activists, and culturally responsive teachers” (pp. 19, 20).
Berdan and Berdan (2013) suggest a variety of activities for teachers to promote a global classroom: (a) encourage creative representations of the world; (b) avoid stereotypes when selecting international images; (c) create games using maps and globes; (d) play music from a variety of cultures and take time to reflect on and discuss it; (e) create a global bookshelf, including books written in other languages, to show how books are physically read in other countries; (f) post and refer to the alphabets of other world languages; (g) introduce world languages through online sources, such as the one used by the Peace Corps; (h) incorporate toys/items from around the world in teaching both a subject and cultural similarities and differences; and (i) post and frequently use a variety of maps.
Integrating various components of global education into teacher education programs would also enhance understanding of global competencies. Merryfield et al. (2008) identify five components of effective global education programs: knowledge of global interconnectedness; inquiry into global issues; skills in perspective consciousness; open-mindedness; and cross-cultural experiences.
Knowledge of global interconnectedness: A major focus of global education is to help students learn about how they are connected to world events and activities. Global education helps them understand how decisions made by actors in other nations affect their local communities, and how their decisions, in turn, can have effects around the world.
Inquiry into global issues: Teachers integrate global issues into mandated course content by asking issue-centered questions on topics including global warming, weapons of mass destruction, global health and HIV/AIDS, terrorism, human rights, poverty and development, and more. Although some of these issues may be controversial, they affect people across the world and therefore serve as excellent topics for promoting global perspectives.
Skills in perspective consciousness: Helping students understand that they have views of the world that are not universally shared, and that others may have extremely different worldviews, is another essential component of global education and raises students’ perspective consciousness—“an appreciation of how one’s cultural beliefs, values and norms of behavior shape perception and interpretation of events or issues.”
Open-mindedness: Global education involves the cultivation of respect for cultural differences and can help combat xenophobia and ethnocentrism by increasing exposure to differing cultures, particularly through visuals and cooperative learning activities. In turn, this allows students to recognize and combat bias, stereotypes, and misinformation.
Cross-cultural experiences: Cross-cultural experiences put students in direct contact with different cultures, peoples, and customs. Presentations, foreign language education, study abroad trips, collaborative projects, videos, and images are some of the ways that students increase their cultural awareness and cross-cultural collaboration.
Saavedra and Opfer (2012, p. 1) suggest nine principles for teaching the 21st-century skills and competencies needed to help students navigate the complex social, academic, and economic workforce, including:
Make learning relevant to the “big picture”: Making learning relevant to students’ lives fosters motivation that leads to increased learning.
Teach through the disciplines: Learning through disciplines entails learning not only the knowledge of the discipline but also the skills associated with the production of knowledge within the discipline that incorporates the use of multiple 21st-century skills and leads to increased student learning.
Develop lower- and higher-order thinking skills to encourage understanding in different contexts: Fostering both lower- and higher-order thinking skills is an important educational goal that leads to increased student learning.
Encourage transfer of learning: Students need to apply the skills and knowledge they gain in one discipline to another as well as apply what they learn in school to other areas of their lives, which leads to increased learning.
Teach how to “learn to learn” or metacognition: Helping students to acquire skills, attitudes, and dispositions for the 21st century requires teaching them how to learn on their own, specifically helping them to develop metacognitive skills, positive mental models about how they learn, the limits of such learning, and indications of failure.
Address misunderstandings directly: To overcome misconceptions, learners need to actively construct new understandings. In addition, topics must be taught deeply in order to give students time and space to familiarize themselves with ideas that contradict their intuitive misconceptions.
Promote teamwork: Teamwork helps students to collaborate and learn from their peers as well as challenge their own understandings that promote learning.
Exploit technology to support learning: Technology holds great promise for education and has the potential to help students to develop higher-order thinking skills, collaborate with peers, and foster new understanding that leads to increased learning.
Foster students’ creativity: Teaching concepts that are relevant to students’ lives motivates them to learn and use their newfound knowledge and understanding creatively. Motivation fosters creativity that leads to increased learning.
Digital Citizenship is the norms of appropriate, responsible technology use. Twenty-first-century learners are exposed to digital technology in many aspects of their day-to-day existence, which has a profound impact on their dispositions, including their attitudes and approach to learning. Generally, digital natives are more adaptable and quicker to adapt to emerging technologies—the tools are part of their lifestyles. As a result of their upbringing and experiences with technology, digital natives have particular learning preferences or styles that differ from earlier generations of students (Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008). This generation of students in the United States is the most racially and ethnically diverse group in history, and they are “fully accepting of diversity and typically do not perceive the same divides as earlier generations. In general, they are extremely independent, due to a combination of day care, single parenting, divorced, and working parents” (Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008, p. 1).
As technology advances, educators need to recognize the changing learning patterns of their learners and the potential of digital technology to improve the dynamics of learning (Solis, 2014). The digital natives, for instance, prefer quick results and find that it is easier to learn by using various search engines at their disposal rather than a dictionary. Teachers should encourage this “hands on” approach, also called constructivism. The constructivist pedagogy is founded on the premise of creating knowledge in learning environments supported by active learning, reflective learning, creation of authentic tasks, contextual learning, and collaborative learning (Novak, 1998). In the constructivist classroom, the focus tends to shift from the teacher to the students. In the constructivist model, the students are urged to be actively involved in their own process of learning.
Bringing constructivism into the classroom means that instructors will have to embrace a new way of thinking about how digital natives learn. Constructivist teachers view learning as an active, group-oriented process in which learners construct an understanding of knowledge that could be used in problem-solving situations. As guides, constructivist teachers incorporate mediation, modeling, and coaching while providing rich environments and experiences for collaborative learning (Sharp, 2006). Constructivist teachers ask questions, oversee activities, and mediate class discussions; they also use scaffolding, which involves asking questions and providing clues linking previous knowledge to the new experience (Sadker, Sadker, & Zittleman, 2008).
Digital technologies offer many potential ways to foster global awareness in the classroom. Through infusion of both global education and technology in social studies teaching and learning, teachers can foster students’ understandings of the interrelationships of peoples worldwide, thereby preparing students to participate meaningfully as global citizens (Crawford & Karby, 2008). Cultural competence and foreign languages could also be learned through cultural virtual field trips (Ntuli & Nyarambi, 2015), However, technology is not a substitute for good instruction. Instructors who are successful in teaching, such as constructivist-oriented teachers, “will be more likely to help their students learn with technology if the teachers can draw on their own experiences in learning with technology” (p. 4).
Applications such as Google Doc and Padlet allow users to collaborate on documents well beyond the confines of the classroom and the school schedule. Digital technology offers opportunities for students to use their creativity to show what they know. Applications such as Skype and Google Hangout allow students to connect with their peers across the globe. Although instructors play a significant role when teaching with technology, the primary concern in technology integration is for teachers to go beyond technical competence to provide students with pedagogical uses and critically analyze their effective use in various contexts (Bush, 2003). Specifically, instructors must place their technical competence within broad educational goals or desired pedagogical frameworks. Bush argues that critical instructional technologies should be considered when considering infusing technology into the classroom that include increasing students’ knowledge of the subject concepts and pedagogy, creating opportunities for professional and pedagogical practice, and developing critical strategies to support students in their professional practice and in the use of educational digital technologies.
A digital passport is an excellent way to engage students and teach them about digital citizenship. Digital passports are an interactive and engaging way to teach and test the basics of digital safety, etiquette, and citizenship especially in upper elementary grades. Teachers can create and add student groups to assign, monitor, and customize assignments for students. Students learn foundational skills from online games and videos, while deepening their learning through collaborative offline activities. The digital passport “uses video and games to teach students about cyberbullying, privacy, safety and security, responsible cell phone use, and copyright. Students earn badges for successfully completing each phase of the Digital Passport program” (Common Sense Media, 2013–2016).
Teacher education programs should strive to provide training on digital information literacy, for instance, the consumption of “fake news” by teachers and students who have limited digital information literacy skills. Students should be guided to acquire skills and improve on their ability to locate, evaluate, and use information from online sources. Harris (2000) observes that technology will be a significant tool to redesign learning in the 21st century. However, educators will need to experience a paradigm shift in their vision for technology in education. Further, they need to change their beliefs in learning processes. Harris (2000) acknowledges that “The tremendous technology potential will only be realized if we can create a new vision of how technology will change the way we define teaching and how we believe learning can take place” (p. 1).
There are multiple considerations and implications of globalization on teacher education. First, teachers should strive to prepare students to live and work in a global society. Second, it should be noted that 21st-century teacher candidates are no longer just competing for career opportunities locally but globally—they face a global job market. Thus, the graduates will need to possess the right skills and adequate knowledge required in the global workforce. Additionally, diversity in the workplace as a result of the global job market implies that education should be grounded in the understanding and appreciation of cultural diversity and differences. Specifically, having cross-cultural communication skills has become essential for all workers and professionals in the global workforce. The teaching of these essential global workforce skills must be integrated in the curriculum.
The fact that most U.S. public schools do not offer foreign language instruction until high school suggests that many students may not be prepared to compete and lead in a competitive global workplace. Even so, helping students to acquire the global competencies needed in the 21st-century workplace will offer them an economic and intellectual advantage. In other words, a global mindset is a major competitive advantage for young adults entering the 21st-century workforce. As global citizens, students will adopt a global view in their thinking about the world as well as strive to develop a sense of global citizenship that helps them to relate better with others, understand global issues, respect and affirm cultural diversity, and be responsible members of the global society.
Globalization presents both promise and challenges for educators. For instance, globalization provides opportunities for students to learn about different experiences, languages, and cultures for life in the 21st century and global society. On the other hand, the challenges include academic achievement inequities between students of diverse backgrounds; racial segregation in public schools; gender inequalities and sex discrimination; educating students with disabilities; and digital inequities based on class or income. Consequently, it is imperative for teachers to develop cultural and global competencies to improve the academic achievement of their students as well as to prepare their learners to become global citizens.
Using technology to teach preservice teachers about technology adds a useful dimension to a practical approach that is theoretically based (Clifford, Friesen, & Lock, 2004). Further, thinking about teaching and instruction focuses on meeting the specific needs of learners, allowing teacher educators to progress from a singular perspective to a multifaceted perspective in teaching with technology. As a result, preservice teachers must focus on developing thought processes about student learning that will enable them to think through the integration process of various technology tools available to them in the classroom.
Teachers must also develop a pedagogical model that potentially creates a stronger link between theory and practice (Kelly, 2003). If used appropriately, technology tools have great potential to enhance classroom instruction (Keengwe, 2007). Further, the power of digital technology to support learning is not so much in the technology, as in what teachers do with the available technologies. Oblinger (2012) labels information technology and effective learning experiences as a game changer. There is a synergy behind these two truths; digital technologies bring together convenient and collaborative tools to engage students in authentic, quality learning experiences that are critical in 21st-century learning environments.
Twenty-first-century learners are different from the ones the current educational system was designed to teach. To respond to globalization and to provide for digital learners, educators will have to tap the strengths offered by emerging technologies such as mobile learning platforms—portability, context sensitivity, connectivity, and ubiquity—in order prepare graduates to meet the demands of a global workplace. A seamless integration of digital technologies into teacher education has the potential to improve and support the achievement of diverse learners. As teachers become knowledgable and more comfortable in the use of innovative digital technologies, it is hoped that their pedagogical practices will also improve, and that the integration of digital technology and cultural diversity into classroom instruction will become an integral part of all their school curricula.
Globalization brings multiple challenges and opportunities. To enhance global awareness of how to deal with the negative and positive effects of globalization requires innovative teacher education that prepares students to become global citizens. Innovative teacher education programs integrate the mastery of the subject matter and the acquisition of appropriate pedagogical skills and knowledge to train teacher candidates to effectively prepare graduates for the 21st-century workforce. For instance, the focus on integrating digital technologies into social studies learning offers the potential to promote cross-cultural understandings and awareness in areas such as equity, diversity, and discrimination among both students and teachers (Merryfield, 2000). Additionally, early exposure to different languages and cultures prepares young individuals for the dynamic workplace (Berdan & Berdan, 2013).
Digital literacy is no longer a luxury (Hicks & Turner, 2013), and therefore teacher education programs need to incorporate relevant digital technology tools and applications and provide digital literacy to all students to close the digital divide and promote the global digital equity that is necessary to become global digital citizens. Training in the use and integration of technology in teacher education programs (Kazakoff & Bers, 2012; Vu & Fadde, 2014) is also recommended. Additionally, transforming teacher education and literacy objectives using performance assessments can help bridge the digital divide (Warschauer & Matuchniak, 2010). The assumption here is that with proper preparation and support, teachers will find more success early in their careers and be more able to cope with the technological and pedagogical skills that are necessary to enhance effective teaching and learning in 21st-century classrooms.
Due to the influence of globalization in education, U.S. public school teachers need a broad repertoire of pedagogical strategies to grapple with the challenges they face in diverse 21st-century classrooms. Teacher educators need to be knowledgable about economics, so the traditional teacher education courses will have to be revised to incorporate aspects of economics and finance in the curriculum. It will be important for them to pass this knowledge to their future students in the era of globalization. Globalization implies the need to improve the quality of teacher education through the creation of educational standards and benchmarks that incorporate global education (global issues and cultures).
It is recommended that teacher education programs also explore ways to promote and enhance the teacher education community through global education collaborations and cross-cultural projects that incorporate international standards and benchmarks. Additionally, curricula for teacher education programs need to be reconstructed according to the changing aspects and needs of the global society.
It is recommended that public schools be encouraged to develop school learning and teaching plans to increase their capacity to: manage use of social media tools for learning and teaching; support students’ learning of 21st-century skills; support innovative student-centered pedagogical practices that incorporate transformative digital content and learning technologies; and provide professional development opportunities for teachers in the access, use, and implementation of digital resources. The need to address the diversity of the teaching force is also a crucial and critical issue that requires different comprehensive strategies for addressing each educational, social, economic, cultural, and political aspect (Villegas & Irvine, 2010).
It is also recommended that teacher candidates receive appropriate training on diversity and culturally responsive pedagogical practices to enhance their experiences interacting with students from other cultures and to start thinking about effective strategies to teach culturally diverse learners. Misreading behaviors or communication patterns of culturally and linguistically diverse learners, for instance, could lead teachers who are unprepared to meet the educational needs of these students to see them as having an academic or behavioral disability (Voltz, Brazil, & Scott, 2003).
Finally, there is a need for instructors to assess the needs of 21st-century learners to enhance their learning. For instance, instructors will need to provide more flexibility in their curriculum as well as integrate digital media, online collaborations, and virtual learning communities into their teaching. Such approaches could result in an interactive and open-ended authentic type of learning that could benefit the learners and prepare them to be successful in the digital and global workplace.
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