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JANUARY 28, 2019

landmark publication provides framework to measure student outcomes in global digital education

Educating students to become globally competent adults has never been a greater challenge for those charged with preparing the next generation to live and work in a globalized and digitally connected world. The problem is determining the content of a global education, how best to teach it, and whether the programs created to accomplish this goal are working. Understanding this, we developed student learning outcomes that provide a comprehensive and coherent picture of global competency in the classroom, drawing on our international network of nearly 1000 educators.

This need and problem are addressed in our paper “Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework” co-published by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). We are releasing the paper later this week at “Global Competency in a Changing World,” our New York City symposium.

An effective global digital exchange program should show growth in these nine outcomes, which taken together define global competency for K-12 students.

The paper presents an evaluation framework for global education based on these student learning outcomes and the innovative approach of global digital exchange. Global Cities conceived this framework so that educators can better teach global competency, and evaluators can better measure what students are learning.

The strength of the paper is that evidence comes from academic literature and the world of practice, including data from Global Scholars, the digital exchange program that we created and operate. It connects 10-to-13 year old students in e-classrooms with peers in other countries to accomplish a project-based, technology-integrated and interdisciplinary curriculum about a global problem. Classes engage with one another in discussion boards throughout the nine-month program. Enrollment has consistently increased over five years, now cumulatively totaling nearly 50,000 students.

These 112 empirical indicators contribute to 9 learning goals

The evaluation framework identifies four global learning outcomes—appreciation for diversity, cultural understanding, global knowledge and global engagement— and five general learning outcomes, including digital literacy, language communication, self-efficacy, academic engagement and critical thinking. An effective global digital exchange program should show growth in these nine outcomes, which taken together define global competency for K-12 students.

To make the outcomes measurable, we identified 112 empirical indicators across the nine outcomes, grouped within the developmental competency areas of knowledge, skill, attitudes and behavior. We recognize that not all indicators will be observable in every setting and so by providing this wide range of indicators, the framework makes it possible for educators and evaluators to identify what global learning looks like in the classroom. The empirical indicators can also be used to formulate measurement tools that consider student progress or improvement over time.

The framework makes it possible for educators and evaluators to identify what global learning looks like in the classroom.

The paper describes each student learning outcome and the related empirical indicators. It then identifies measurement approaches related to these outcomes and indicators that are developmentally appropriate for ages 10 to 13. While this is a critical age for building global competency, students are at the beginning stages of developing these outcomes and may show growth in different ways and at different times. Therefore, the paper concludes that a nuanced and multipronged evaluation approach is essential. The framework provides the foundation for undertaking outcome evaluation for any global education program.

More than 70 representatives of the Global Scholars network are gathering in New York City this week to continue the conversation about the importance and purpose of global digital education and how to evaluate its impact on cities worldwide. Attendees will hear from Michael Bloomberg, three-term Mayor of New York City and philanthropist, who will open the meeting as he has every previous Global Cities symposium. Mayor Bloomberg will speak to the need to make sure our children become globally competent 21st-century adults. John King, former U.S. Secretary of Education, will also address attendees, as will Kevin Guthrie, president of Ithaka. King will speak about the importance of assuring equity for low-income students and students of color; Guthrie will speak to the opportunities—and the hazards—that instantaneous digital communications represent for student learning.

Look for highlights from the symposium on Twitter and Facebook #learningoutcomes and check our website in the coming days for video clips and transcripts.

Read the report: “Evaluating Global Digital Education: Student Outcomes Framework