These days, we live in a global community where little is done in isolation. A global community has the potential to lift millions of people out of poverty. A globalised world can enable advances in human development: in education, health and the environment. Digital technologies play a crucial role in enabling learners to connect with, contribute to and learn from those in other parts of the world. We are also increasingly becoming aware of the challenges that are emerging, in the form of cybersecurity, changing behaviour patterns and the influence of multinational tech corporations on the way we connect.
This global connectedness trend is driven by the changing demographics in our nation and our schools, a global marketplace, competition from emerging economies, rising inequity and the power of digital technologies to empower learners who connect to learn and grow. Increasingly, there is a demand for access to information and resources that are dependent on this networked world - and which therefore drives technological development. Witness the rise of Amazon and the slow decline of postal services, for example.
In this globally connected world, our challenge as educators is to prepare our learners to not only take advantage of all that this offers, but also to encourage them to question, investigate and act as global citizens. There is a plethora of opportunities, for both students and teachers, in being part of a global village of learning, information-sharing and creation opportunities. Developing the digital literacies required to usefully and purposefully navigate this environment remain a strong learning focus.
In New Zealand and beyond, we are seeing schools connecting for learning through initiatives such as LEARNZ virtual field trips, Over the Back Fence, using Skype in the Classroom and Flat Connections. There is often a focus on social action and the value of diversity through relating to others. For teachers, there are online professional learning opportunities (Connected Educator Month, Enabling e-Learning webinar, Empower courses from CORE) and a host of Twitter chats and online communities.