Global Cities, Inc. Launches its Digital Classroom in Barcelona
November 10, 2015 – Barcelona, Spain – Global Cities, Inc., a program of Bloomberg Philanthropies, recognized Barcelona as a major hub for Global Scholars, its international digital classroom, at an event for educators from the Catalan Regional Ministry of Education. Thanks to their efforts, 762 students in 22 of their schools are enrolled in Global Scholars —16 in Barcelona and two each in Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Global Scholars is a peer-to-peer, technology-based program that fosters knowledge of global issues among the next generation.
Catalonia schools join more than 7,000 students worldwide from 51 cities in 24 countries on six continents in the innovative project-based curriculum that students and educators applaud. Other hub cities include Buenos Aires, Delhi, Istanbul, London, Madrid, Medellín, Mumbai, New York, Taipei, Tel Aviv and Warsaw. The Global Scholars program serves additional cities as far-flung as Accra, Cape Town, Jakarta, Melbourne, Moscow, Prague, São Paulo, St. Petersburg and Tbilisi. This international cohort is matched by an equal number of students from 13 cities in the United States.
Global Scholars reaches students at a critical age in their development – 10 to 13 years old — to expand understanding of the cross-cultural and technological world in which they live. Global Scholars provides educators and students the rare opportunity for international learning with their peers. The shared curriculum makes it possible for students from diverse cultures to have a conversation about an important topic and learn from one another. This year’s topic, Building Better Cities, focuses on environmental sustainability.
Each class is in direct communication with students in 10 to 12 other cities from diverse geographic areas. The program has a strong focus on digital projects with the objective of developing the skills needed in the 21st century workplace. Students create videos, design websites, infographics and other digital presentations. At the end of the year, they develop and implement a community action project to address the global issue they have studied. This unit allows practical application on the local level and introduces students to the idea that they can make a difference.
Barcelona is a multilingual city. The Catalan Regional Ministry of Education identified the Global Scholars program as a way to integrate English language instruction with content in geography, natural sciences, and math.
Secretary of Education Policies Joan Mateo said, “Global Scholars offers our schools an excellent opportunity to participate in an international project that enables debate about topics of global interest. Through this program, teachers and students connect with schools in cities all over the world. The children acquire a wider perspective that will help them develop their critical thinking skills and creativity. Our participation in this program also means an opportunity to consolidate learning a foreign language, as all exchanges with teachers and students from other countries are done in English. Participating in programs like Global Scholars is part of the general strategy of this government so that our students adequately acquire and develop the skills they will need for their academic and professional success.”
The program is popular among educators because it engages students. The head teacher of English at Institut Bisbe Berenguer, Carlos Silva Campanon, said, “The most interesting thing about Global Scholars is reality; real conversation about real challenges. It makes English much more interesting because they communicate with students their own age who are experiencing the same things in other cities. It is a real shift from 10 years ago, bringing reality into the classroom.”
Maialen Prieto, Head of Studies of Institut Bisbe Berenguer, described how Global Scholars is a unique learning experience for the world in which her students live. “Multiculturalism is a fundamental notion in our changing world. People are the same all over the planet, and you can only get to find this out if you are given the chance to check it out in real life.”
Referring to the importance of this program in her own school, Ms. Prieto said, “Taking part in international education projects such as Global Scholars is a central issue for students like ours. Giving them the opportunity to get in touch with students from other countries and cultures is a prospect they would probably never have had otherwise.”
The founder and president of Global Cities, Inc., Marjorie B. Tiven, said, “Without ever leaving their classrooms, Catalan students now work directly with peers in cities around the world. They learn how they see things similarly and, sometimes, differently. They are excited to introduce their own city and eager to learn about the cities of others in their digital classroom. We commend the Catalan Regional Ministry of Education for offering Global Scholars participation in 22 schools. Using technology-based curricula, students are studying global topics, increasing their digital literacy, and connecting with the world.”