Teachers Boost Global Collaboration Abilities with Hybrid Approach

A research project that evaluated an education cluster formed among teachers in Delaware has concluded that following the hybrid model of teaching is an effective approach to help teachers integrate international education into their instruction. Researcher Wendy Modzelewski, who is a consultant in instructional technology for the Delaware Center for Education Technology, analyzed the International Education Technology Cluster for her Ph.D. dissertation.

The cluster used a hybrid model, combining face-to-face interaction with an online professional development course and classroom and project-based learning created by iEarn-USA. The latter is an organization that enables teachers and students to work together online across international borders. It has a membership spanning 130 countries and 30,000 schools.

The cluster approach, wrote Modzelewski, "increased teacher global education skills." She added that the greatest gain in pedagogical skills recognition was the teachers' ability to integrate international education into the curriculum.

An unintended finding of the study was that the teachers "greatly enjoyed the professional development experience and in turn shared their excitement and enthusiasm for learning with their students," reported Modzelewski.

Teachers involved in the effort came from across the state and most had little background in international collaboration. The most important skill they learned, Modzelewski said, was integrating global education into existing curriculum for content areas other than global education.

"As Dr. Modzelewski points out, this study 'demonstrates that teachers can be taught the skill of integration,'" said Edwin Gragert, executive director of iEarn-USA. "And based on her research, the model can be replicated in states across the country."

Participants in the iEarn online course were grouped by content area and networked with their peers internationally to examine international projects conducted with students. They also held online discussions about integrating international projects into their curriculum, aligned projects to their curriculum and content standards, and addressed integration issues with experienced educators.

According to Modzelewski, first-hand, authentic communication between student peers increased the level of student engagement and interest in the projects. One teacher, she said, reported that her students were reluctant learners. "But as soon as they heard that they would be sharing their principles for successful living, one of an iEarn project's goals, with others from around the world, they were eager to get started."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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