We know you thought the world was round….

but we are here to tell you that the world is actually flat!  Not geometrically flat, that was dis-proven way back in 1521 by  Ferdinand Magellan when he circumnavigated the earth, but virtually flat. Through economy, trade, and technology we humans have succeeded in virtually flattening our world.

Thomas Friedman was one of the first to analyze this phenomena in his book: The World is Flat.  If you have not yet had the opportunity to read this book, here is a quick summary (for more detailed summary check out wikisummaries.org).

Friedman postulates that ten key factors in our global socioeconomic development.

  1. Collapse of Berlin Wall
  2. Netscape
  3. Work Flow Software
  4. Uploading
  5. Outsourcing
  6. Offshoring
  7. Supply-Chaining
  8. Insourcing
  9. In-forming
  10. “The Steroids”

At first glance this list seems very economically driven, however upon closer inspection it becomes evident that all but the first bullet point are technology mediated factors.  These factors together have led to an increasing level of globalization, or flattening, of our world.  The flat world has many implications.  For example, a flat world enables global economic competition and is “leveling the playing field” in the business world. However, while the economic impact is fairly evident, but what does this mean for education?  Friedman argues that education is imperative for a students future success in a globalized world. Furthermore, he postulates that “parents and schools and cultures can and do shape people;” that through our globalization we encourage (and must enable and empower) our students, through technology, to compete in this flattened society.  We flatten our classrooms on a daily basis by extending our education beyond the classroom walls: expanding the classroom into the community (local and global) and allowing the world into the classroom.  We educate both out of and inside the box, “In living, studying and working alongside a diverse group of people, we are challenged in our own assumptions and our own knowledge. Our education is, in a way, an education without borders.”

Interested in flattening your classroom?  Here are some ideas!

  • Bring an expert into your class or bring your class to an expert:  Using web conferencing individual students or whole classes can interact with discipline experts anywhere in the world (as long as there is an internet connection).
  • Access online resources in your class that give students a diverse perspective.  Resources can be found in many locations, but here are some cool video resources:
  • And more!

Want more information?  Contact us at atc-ttc@wpi.edu.

Have ideas already?  Please share them below by leaving a comment!