Factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic and Industry 4.0 have spurred an acceleration of changes to international higher education. In particular, education abroad professionals are now actively engaged in piloting an array of new modalities to effectively engage students in international learning and engagement beyond student mobility.
This five-part series focuses on The Global Tech Experience, an emerging model that bridges the development of applied technical skills and intercultural learning. This series will appeal to those education abroad professionals who are especially eager to explore entrepreneurial strategies and savvy approaches to maximizing student and engagement in a new era.
For all of our students who are ready to explore the world, their lives are simultaneously shrinking and expanding.
They’ve mastered how to work small from home laptops and phones, but at the same time, working small online has opened untapped reservoirs of international opportunities for those students willing to engage in new ways of actively learning in the world. And our students are taking advantage of those virtual global spaces to focus back on their own professional identity in order to gain the knowledge and experience that will open doors to future careers.
This ever-changing world of our students’ global exploration becomes a critical pivot point in refocusing on what international educators have known for a long time:
Global education has been rapidly evolving to offer programming that meets the needs of a changing global economy and workforce.
Not surprisingly, companies like Podium Education have embraced this evolution. Podium’s Global Tech Experience connects students to real world projects from global companies, applied skill-building experiences, and most importantly, to each other. Chris Parrish, Podium Education’s co-founder, explains Global Tech as a natural evolution of global programming focused on career readiness – as the modern workforce now requires students to have both technical and intercultural skills.
And Global Tech can help savvy students and creative institutions re-envision a second thing that we know to be true:
Global and experiential programming strengthens students’ resilience, empathy, and commitment (which means increased retention!).
And now Global Tech has been put on the fast track at many institutions that are expanding programming to look beyond delivery modality and more into the types of skills needed to develop global career readiness. So, what is The Global Tech Experience?
The Global Tech Experience is a 6-credit, semester-long, fully online program for undergraduates. Students develop substantial technical and intercultural competencies by working directly with real world projects from companies like AirBnB, Netflix and Spotify alongside peers from 38 different countries around the world.
Where might an international educator or innovative university administrator start to think about Global Tech and the potential impact at their institution?
As higher education institutions across the U.S. search for ways to reassert the value proposition of global education, international educators are finding that online programs can be as rewarding, dynamic, and in some cases, even more accessible pathways than traditional education abroad.
This will appeal to innovative international education professionals who are eager to explore student-focused next-generation approaches to providing all students what we already know they want – effective global programs that prepare them for world-class careers.
There is no doubt that students have become more discerning consumers of higher education. As students consider the four C’s of choosing programs–cost, credit, content and career–they see that all four intersect in the dynamic Global Tech Experience. Students gain insight and perspective, along with important connections through career-making experiences, often at a fraction of the cost and disruption of traditional education broad programming.
But how might an institution embrace experiential programs like Global Tech in a way that’s scalable, and able to respond to internal and external demands and still maintain its impact on individual student success? By keeping students at the center, we as global education leaders, can build sustainable internal and external partnerships to open opportunities to students from all majors, backgrounds, and perspectives.
As many international offices recommit to their focus on student access and equity, approaches to expanding student engagement have begun to break down barriers that have traditionally put limits on student diversity in global programs. Global Tech embraces this approach and provides choices that tackle many of the toughest challenges students face when searching for a way to engage in the world. This program opens possibilities to students where traditional mobility-based programs are not an option.
The impact of Global Tech points directly to what students want from higher education–career-ready skills that get them the job in a global company, enhance their professional identity, and prepare them for building strong relationships across cultures. Whether intercultural communication or technical skills, cultural awareness or a strong professional digital presence, experiential programs like Global Tech empower students for world-class careers.
All great institutions, despite the unpredictable changes in higher education, focus on mission for identity, for strategy, and for building pathways to enhance student success. And those institutions often approach their missions in the powerful context of enrollment, retention, effectiveness, and student achievement, all of which color priorities each year. Global Tech serves as an intersection for these missional priorities by providing sustainable, scalable, and flexible international programming that becomes an innovative approach to engaging students so that they can thrive both in their studies and in their future careers.
In emerging from the disruption of the pandemic and adjusting to the new challenges in international education that every university has been facing, online global programming allows institutions to think differently and embrace the long-standing (though recently accelerated) trends in global education to provide students with experiences that change students’ lives.
Join in for a deeper dive into the exciting opportunities in Global Tech’s scalability and sustainability in 5 Tips on Building Scalable Global Experiential Programs, coming soon!