social-objective-driven global communication

My goal for this post is to discuss appropriate ways to address globalization in the writing classroom. On the surface, it may seem like only small pieces of globalization enter our classroom walls–via students from other countries, electronic devices that were outsourced to other countries, and perhaps the occasional student paper on NAFTA or the psychological implications of social media. But if our mission as college writing instructors is to help our students gain the tools they need to actively participate in their future discourse communities, then we need to tackle globalization–right along with technology and media literacy–head on in the classroom.

I’ll attempt to address it head on in this post too: what is globalization? Is it McDonald’s spreading into every corner of the world? Is it the shipping of red wood trees to China? Is globalization micro-finance NGOs? Is it leaders of the United Nations holding teleconferences? Is it good? Is it capitalism at its absolute worst? Is it all of the above? Doreen Starke-Meyerring of McGill University offers a useful definition in an article on globalization literacy. She explains it like this: “the increasing interdependence and integration of social, cultural, political, and economic processes across local, national, regional, and global levels” in which “people, artifacts, symbols, goods, and services are exchanged more rapidly, frequently, and intensively, facilitated by the Internet, airline travel, wireless networks, and migration.” After graduation, our students’ will need to be able to join this fast-paced, interdependent global community–and knowing how to write a really good thesis statement will probably not be enough (or even helpful at all) for their success.

Deborah Cameron, in Globalization and the Teaching of Communication Skills, argues that “it is crucial for language teaching professionals to engage with questions about what kinds of communication are valuable.” Her overall argument places an emphasis on a more uniform set of skills, and even rules, for communicating within certain discourse communities than I have the patience for, but I have found some middle ground in the teaching of context. If we can help our students learn to understand context–by identifying the author, audience and purpose of a situation–we will be helping them to later identify different, and appropriate modes and genres to communicate in this global landscape.

But I also don’t think that learning to engage fluently with the global community is enough. If my students walked out of my classroom equipped with global literacy and the means to spread their messages and their products across the world, but hadn’t learned to think critically about their global impact in the process, then I would feel like I had failed at the entire thing. Muhammad Yumus, in an article on micro-finance, advocates for more of what he calls social-objective-driven entrepreneurs to aide in the economic divide that globalization has seemingly left in its wake across the world. I think that this term, social-objective-driven, can also be applied to the writing classroom. I would love to see more social-objective-driven papers and arguments! I would love to see more students leaving my class with social-objective-driven writing skills! And social-objective-driven purposes in their discourse communities! And social-objective-driven uses for technology!

Because, in the end, globalization seems like it either has the ability to connect us with the entire world, or to isolate us so that we are only thinking about what is best for us, and what is best for our country. Along with teaching students rhetoric–the art of persuasion–it would also be nice to teach them the art of compassion, and cultural understanding, and the importance of diversity. We can bring these other things into our curriculum if we are intentional about the framing of our assignments, so that our students leave our classrooms able to communicate social-objective-driven ideas with a global audience.

References

Fagan-Smith, Barbara. “The Changing Role of the Communication Professional.”

Solomon, Helene. “Social Media for Nonprofits.”

Howe, James.”10 Social Media Basics Every Nonprofit Needs to Know.”

Rimalower, George. “Translating Social Media Messages for a Global Audience. Q&A.

Swan, Christopher. “Connecting the World through Social Media.

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15 thoughts on “social-objective-driven global communication”

  1. Hi Chase,

    I enjoyed reading your post. I thought you did a great job defining globalization and applying it to teaching. Your use of the course readings were effective and helped drive your main points home. I especially liked your statement that globalization can either connect us with the world or isolate us from it. I thought that was a great way to describe the importance of “effectively” integrating globalization in our communications. My only suggestion would be to include some images in your post as it is a requirement. You can use Google images to find some general images that depict globalization or diversity even if it isn’t specific to your topic.

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  2. Hi Elizabeth.

    Your post speaks to me. Your focus on recognizing what kind of communication is valuable in this globalizing world is invaluable. How do you think we can spread this consciousness every day? I suppose in the classroom. I wonder also if there are projects to be made that can create this awareness? It is a fascinating field, visual and media literacy, especially when we consider it’s been under our noses all this time and we might not have noticed the impact and importance of it.

    Teaching critical thinking skills is essential. Do you also agree that it is essential for learners to be involved in learning to create media as well? More than checking email and facebooking, but to learn how to build a website, or use a computer language?

    “Along with teaching students rhetoric–the art of persuasion–it would also be nice to teach them the art of compassion, and cultural understanding, and the importance of diversity.”

    I have become addicted to TED talks, but they do play into this theme well.

    In this talk, we can be excited by (and perhaps nervous about) how fluid the technical world is, and unstable. There is also opportunity for creativity in the chaos, and glimmers of self-governance appearing: http://www.ted.com/talks/keren_elazari_hackers_the_internet_s_immune_system

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Rhea

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    1. Rhea, thanks for sharing an awesome TedTalk! Your comment makes me think this: wouldn’t it be awesome if writing instructors and teachers moved away from teaching grammar (and Standard English!) to toward teaching students how to communicate through a variety of multimedia outlets!

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  3. Hi, Chase!

    Your entire post is very good, however, I think your last paragraph is amazing and inspiring! I agree that globalization has the capability to one of two extremes—connection or isolation. This is so insightful and your way of writing it is nicely succinct. The following sentence of yours really ties together your mission as an English teacher with a deeper life calling: “It would also be nice to teach them the art of compassion, and cultural understanding, and the importance of diversity.” I think you as a person are social-objective driven and it shows throughout your entire blog, which I think is awesome! You seem to be an agent of change.

    Additionally, I agree with Heather’s comment and I thought the same thing—that trying to incorporate images, which module three emphasized, would add positively to your blog. Also, if there’s any place you might include an interactive link, that might prove useful to your readers, also. And I’m sorry to sound like a broken record about the en- and em-dashes! 🙂 I can’t help but notice them! If you’re interested, here’s a link about the em-dash (but I feel ridiculous telling you about it because I know you are an expert in your field :P): http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/em-dash.html.

    Bravo, Chase! I’ve enjoyed the journey of reading your blog.

    Thank you!
    Dawn

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    1. Your blog regarding globalization and our role as educators is an important one. I sometimes lose sight of your point and quote of Cameron. You quote Cameron in that, “it is crucial for language teaching professionals to engage with questions about what kinds of communication are valuable.” I think that when communicating with students, my communication as well as their discourse must, as you suggest, follow a “uniform set of skills, and even rules, for communicating within certain discourse communities than I have the patience for, but I have found some middle ground in the teaching of context.” I interpret that as knowing the audience. When talking with students that are disengaged with the issues in the Middle East, it is my job to understand that detachment students’ have on the topic. And when they write about issues in the Middle East, it is my job to show them ways to frame their writing to not alienate or show bias; rather, I can show them how to write for a global audience with understanding of cultural and political conditions that center around the Middle East Conflict. Thank you for the reminder.

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    2. Okay, so I read about the em dash, and it says at the bottom that if your word processing system (which in this case is the blog) doesn’t connect the dashes for you, then two hyphens (–) is okay…and that’s what I’m using!

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  4. It seems like a lot of us have differing opinions on what globalization is and what situations would qualify. You have brought up many good examples and it is just so hard to say where globalization should even start, let alone lead to. I think it will be a slow process targeting one issue at a time. I feel like it will start in the form of economics. People will be pushed much more toward globalization if it helps the economy and business relations. Then, I think it will be political, trying to globalize countries to unite them under laws and politics and it will only become the humanitarian and complete globalization, that helps with poorer countries via health, economy, political freedom and cultural understanding, at the very end.

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  5. Hi Chase,
    You say that if students learn “to understand context-by identifying author, audience and purpose of a situation-we will be helping them to later identify different, and appropriate modes and genres to communicate in this global landscape” which I agree is one of the primary goals teachers ought to have. Understanding context takes a person outside of self and exposes him or her to the ideas of other people, which is necessary in order to comprehend differences. It seems so obvious, but I am constantly amazed at how our situated locality turns back on itself so often. I, too, look at my classes as rhetorical situations in which the academic context is new to most of the students, so I approach writing and reading as rhetorical situations, expecting students to engage with one another and with other people’s perspectives respectfully. I do hope that by looking at the classroom in this way, I will “appropriate modes and genres to communicate” and be an example for them as well.
    Teresa

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  6. Chase,
    I love how you address the problem of understanding what kinds of global communication are important. I love that you write as an educator so it is easier to see how we can implement teaching globalization in the classroom. I think that you are correct and that critical thinking is a cornerstone of globalization for our students. I would also go so far as to say that without being able to think critically students would not be successful in spreading their products or messages across a global scale. I enjoyed reading your post and I wish you the best of luck in the future! Thank you!

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  7. I appreciate the fact that you included a working definition of globalization in your post — it certainly helped in terms of clarity — I still question whether or not globalization (in the context you propose) exists. Global shopping exists, definitely. Most of us tend to think in individual terms, and even national terms, but not globally. Maybe that is the problem? I am not sure. Is this an effect of globalization, as you posit, or something which happens (and continues to happen) if we take globalization out of the mix?

    Also, how could we communicate globally? Do we have a global culture?

    On a separate note, I applaud your enthusiasm to try and teach compassion and appreciation of diversity. It is sad to see that these two things are so often forgotten.

    Thanks

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    1. Danielle, thanks for posing some interesting questions. I don’t think that writing classrooms typically have a “global” culture…but with so many foreign students in the classes I teach, I think it would be easy to create one!

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  8. Chase,

    Lots to absorb from your post. Thank you! Two points that I will incorporate more deliberately when planning instruction:

    1) the challenge you pose as you begin “1f our mission as college writing instructors is to help our students gain the tools they need to actively participate in their future discourse communities, then we need to tackle globalization–right along with technology and media literacy–head on in the classroom”. (True. How often does instruction allow for this? Do I provide “token” experiences for my students?)

    2) your suggestion regarding social entrepreneurship, ” I think that this term–social-objective-driven–can also be applied to the writing classroom. I would love to see more social-objective-driven papers and arguments!” Terrific suggestion! It is a way by which the issue of globalization can be tackled in the classroom while offering a direct call to action…the “so, what can I do about this?” for those who would like to explore it in their writing (and perhaps beyond!).

    Thanks for these, Chase, as well as for other blogs and posts that offer me a lot to think about. I’ve learned much from what you’ve shared but especially from the questions that your writing provokes.

    Best,
    Tessa

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