UM-Flint goes global with new program
Posted by Beata Mostafavi July 25, 2007 20:30PM
FLINT -- On the other side of the ocean, thousands of miles away in Geneva, Switzerland, Amy Meister waved hello to husband Kent and 13-year-old daughter Ashley here in Flint.
But Meister, of the local United Way, is learning to use technology in a way that could even kick satellite video out of the cutting edge club.
She is among 24 students in University of Michigan-Flint's new "Technology in Education Global Program" that was officially inaugurated Wednesday with a live feed from Geneva, where students are studying.
It's a first of its kind master's degree program in education at UM-Flint that requires global residency and research. The degree highlights the use of technology to teach topics of global importance, ranging from human rights to environmental issues.
The new 15-month program that has drawn students from as far as the Cayman Islands comes just as UM-Flint seeks to "internationalize" campus by giving students more international opportunities and lure more non-local and international students to the university.
The program will help students "re-think the role of technology in education and truly understand the way it can and does transform student learning," Acting Chancellor Jack Kay said from Geneva. "This program is poised to reinvent education for the needs and opportunities of the 21st century."
Acting provost Vahid Lotfi said the university has found partners in Geneva -- chosen because it is home to more than 100 non-governmental agencies -- that will help students focus on issues of social justice, civic engagement and education reform.
The program is mostly online but involves two 3-week-long trips to Geneva where students meet with international non-governmental agencies through the World Federations of United Nations Associations and the Federation of International Institutions in Geneva.
"They're focusing on issues sort of larger than the students themselves," said Sharman Siebenthal Adams, assistant professor in education technology. " They need to connect to the world around them.
"We are looking at all of these issues from a global perspective and using technology."
Students spend days doing Web development and video work. Examples of specific projects could include research on labor issues, K-12 schooling, social justice issues related to human rights or people with disabilities, parks and museums or environmental conservation efforts.
Via satellite, students Jennifer Holladay of Attica and Jeremiah Holden of New York said they are gaining a unique global perspective to using technology to teach in meaningful ways.
Gary Weisserman, a UM-Flint faculty member who is in Geneva with the program, said it's "not just about making a Web site."
"The goal is to make Web-rich communities that can make a difference," he said."This is teaching for social and educational change."