Internationalize Your Course!

Our students may never leave northeastern Wisconsin, but world events will nevertheless impact them on the job:  computer hackers in Asia, Ebola spreading from Africa, imports to the US of goods made elsewhere and exports to the world of the goods we produce.  As instructors we need to make our students aware of these issues so they can succeed in our global economy.  Indeed, global awareness is one of the Employability Skills that we are required to teach our students.  To meet this requirement, consider internationalizing your course.What does it mean to internationalize your course?  It is not as difficult or as time-consuming as it you might think.  It doesn’t require an entire re-work of your course.  Rather, it is just doing something to bring relevant international themes into your course content.  There are a number of ways you can do this, and little things can have a big impact — bring in a speaker, have students read and discuss an article about an international event, or watch a video.  Basically anything that exposes students to the world outside the US will work.  To start, take something that you already do and just tweak it to have an international viewpoint.  You don’t need to create entirely new content unless you choose to do that.  They key is to make students aware of how international issues relate to your particular course.

Here is a great example that would not be difficult to implement.  In a math class, one assignment question might be to determine the length of the hypotenuse of a triangle.  The standard question might give the lengths of two sides of the triangle and ask students to determine the length of the third side.  To internationalize this assignment, the instructor might state that the tallest structure in the world, the Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, is 2,722 feet high.  Then ask the students if you walk 500 feet from the tower, how far away are you from the top of the tower?  You could include a picture of the tower as well.  This revision doesn’t take a long time to do.  The student is still demonstrating knowledge of a required competency, but is also gaining a a valuable understanding of the world.

We live in a small world and we can help our students become aware of their part in it.

One thought on “Internationalize Your Course!

  1. These are great ideas, and very much in line with several NWTC value statements and also with the characteristics of successful students. Average Americans are oblivious to the world around them, how we impact others in the world and how others impact us, and are embarrassingly ethno-centric, lacking in curiosity and understanding of other cultures. Using some of Anne’s suggestions are small steps toward rectifying that. Another small thing I’ve done is use names of famous people who are not “American” in my hypothetical fact scenarios. About 1/3 of the way through the semester, I’ll ask in class (or on the Discussion Board) if anyone recognizes the name(s). That almost inevitably leads to people going on the Internet to find out who the people in the facts are. The more we come to learn about the different cultures in our world, the more we come to appreciate them. The more we come to appreciate cultures in our world, the less we come to fear those who are different from us — and that is what leads to increasing celebration of differences and a decrease in bigotry.

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