Almost twenty GFA students are taking classes from teachers at another school and with fellow students from all over the world. This is GFA’s first year as a member of the Global Online Academy (GOA), and the conversations and exchanges online are as real as if they were in the same room. The teacher of the Medical Problem Solving course recently posted: “I shared the question about green mucus, but this time with my younger daughter. And after all the hiking, I got ‘sewing machine leg.’ Have any of you ever had that? Do you know what causes it?”
Our students are excited and engaged and finding the courses as challenging as any they take at GFA. Perhaps most interesting is the variety of voices representing the geographic, cultural, and ethnic diversities of students from around the globe connecting in classes of twelve or so, several days a week.
GOA has a community-first approach, and teachers conduct some classes in real time, while other work is done independently. Students stretch themselves to adapt to different ways of learning. One student recently recorded her first personal video and quickly realized she would need to get more comfortable in front of the camera. Another student conducted a Skype conversation about her Arabic class with her instructor in Jakarta. Another student is being taught by a Grinnell College professor and working on a project with a Grinnell student. Students in Advanced Statistics and Data Science are discussing Randomization Tests, while others are looking into research proposals in Introduction to Psychology.
After only three weeks, one of our students taking a GOA course in Comparative Religions told us, “Global Online Academy has surprised me with the amount of knowledge I have gained quickly and at my own pace. It’s interesting to take a course taught by a teacher who isn’t in my school and to meet students from around the world. I feel connected to the teacher and my peers through videos and messages, and the course has been wonderful.”
Seeing their excitement has us excited as well about the possibilities of the Global Classroom.