The Global Class

The auditorium is filled with students and their laptops, the professor prepares at the front of the class, nothing unusual for a classroom at Durham College. But something quite unique is happening on the video screen – the students aren’t watching a PowerPoint presentation, they’re interacting with students from around the world.

Professor Lon Appleby’s class, A Short History of the World, is joined live by similar classes from India and Korea, and documentary film maker, Adolpho Doring from New York.

These Durham College students are participating in a virtual classroom that enables them to learn from, and share with, students and experts from around the world in real-time, an opportunity that most would never have if not for the global class.

“The global class is a great idea that brings cultures from around the world together to share insight, information, and facts about each other’s culture, countries, etc. It’s a great tool for sharing views on certain topics and to broaden others’ knowledge of global issues, cultures, and world views. It’s great to participate in the global class because it allows for more than a classroom of collective learning, but a virtual global collective learning.” said student, Tyler Clark.

Appleby hopes that the global classroom will allow students to feel as if the walls of the classroom, the mountains and oceans and political boundaries that separate them disappear and the students with their diverse backgrounds and experiences can feel as if they’re together in the same room discussing the issues that unify them no matter where they live.

“Students are fascinated to hear what students in other parts of the world have to say about the same issues and concerns. Once they start to engage one another it is hard to get them to stop. We attempt to create a feeling that the students from the three countries are in one class, sitting across the table from another, having a chat,” said professor Appleby.

Appleby has started to network with like-minded professors and hopes to build upon and enhance his students global classroom experience in the future. To help facilitate this, Appleby will be speaking at the International Conference of the International Association for Intercultural Communication Studies in Taiwan this June. He will be sharing his global classroom experiences and vision with others interested in learning more about the development and future of Durham College’s Global Class.

The most recent and fifth global class, Homo Collosus and the End of Oil, brought together students from the United World College in India and Korea Polytechnic University, past global classroom topics and participants included:

  • Arab Uprising and You – Oshawa, Canada; Cairo, Egypt; Washington DC, United States and Mumbai, India
  • Final Years of Oil – Oshawa, Canada; Mumbai, India and Santa Rosa, United States
  • Human Impact on Earth – Oshawa, Canada; Mumbai, India and Toronto, Canada
  • Global Aeronautics Conference – Oshawa, Canada and Daejong, Korea

With the help of the college’s Centre for Academic and Faculty Enrichment (C.A.F.É.) Appleby has developed the Global Class website that hosts the recorded Global Class sessions and student work that in some cases has been inspired by the unique classroom exchanges.