The New Literacies Research Lab at the University of Connecticut is the most widely recognized center in the world for conducting research on new literacies, including the new literacies of online research and comprehension and the learning skills required by the Internet and other emerging information and communication technologies. Our work develops research-based evidence to prepare students for their literacy and learning future
The GlobalEd 2 Project
Utilizing educational technologies currently available in most middle schools (computers with Internet connection), GlobalEd 2 situates students in a virtual, international decision-making environment focused on critical world issues. Across the country about 16 to 20 social studies classrooms participate in the simulation. Each classroom is assigned a country to represent. Within each classroom or “country”, students are further divided into a number of issue areas such as human rights, economic policies, environment, and health.
The students in these issue area groups then interact with their counterparts in other “countries” over a 12 to 14-week period, though a web-based environment in order to negotiate some mutually agreeable resolution to a world issue like water scarcity. The students in the different classrooms are “blinded” from one another. As such, they are known only as “the Iranian human rights council” or the “Uganda economic group”. This removes any issues of gender, racial or socio-economic bias from entering into the deliberations.
Students learn a great deal about their countries, the other countries in the simulations, global policy and the art of international negotiation – all traditional standards in the social studies curricula. However, also note that the students are negotiating content that has a scientific focus, and that all of the communications are written. This fall, our simulation will be focusing on the world’s water scarcity problem. During “negotiations” among country teams, students must learn about scientific concepts like the water cycle, pollution, and desalination. So in addition to meeting the social studies standards for 7th/8th grade, GlobalEd 2 serves as an expanded curricular space for engaging kids in real life science and writing tasks – both of which are important 21st century skills.