Mod 6: Where In the World Are We? Assessment

People shaking hands in front of globe

​I realized today that knowing our planetary locations in online learning makes our world a bit smaller - doesn't it? And it makes our identity as global citizens that much more accessible, too.

People have been saying for decades that the Internet makes the world smaller as we are all so much more in touch with each other across the globe because of it. My own experience with online learning and the Internet means I have so much information at my fingertips to imagine how other people in different locations on the planet are doing. Now, if there's an earthquake in a place I've never heard of before, I can Google that location and have a really good idea of where it is. If I have a classmate who's from a place I've never heard of before, I can locate her on the globe in seconds. That's pretty cool, eh? And never mind the possibilities for geography instruction! And imagination growing!

Wouldn't it be great, when a new student comes to F2F class, to locate where they came from on the globe? And maybe they'd like to eventually do a report on that place. Imagine the possibilities! Maybe all the students would do reports on where their families came from multi-generationally. That would certainly bring the world "home" to students, especially kids, if they could easily visualize where everyone's come from. And where they've been.

I find myself intensely curious about where everyone lives in our online community. It is mind-bending and potentially heart-opening to imagine us all around the world, tossed like stars in the universe. The thing is, establishing a location for everybody helps me to imagine everyone a little bit more specifically, and remember everyone, too. When we do not meet in person and have only a name and maybe a photo (or maybe not) as the beginning of identifying someone's characteristics, I like to have some other reference points to help me get to know someone online. Otherwise it's just a bunch of names, isn't it, with identifying characteristics that might build up over time - but it takes a long time, doesn't it? To get to know everyone in your class online? Certainly longer than a two-month course. And I'm just talking about getting to know everyone on an acquaintance level.

When we do know where we all are on a map, we have more of a sense of belonging. I once read about an indigenous culture who, for every time they meet each other, their greeting includes their absolute location on the globe. They actually refer to their geographical birds-eye-view location as an automatic and natural feature of their identity all the time! They are always aware of where they are, literally, as a global reference, and use that location linguistically to identify themselves! Like a last name. Fascinating.

With online learning, I wish to constantly be reminded of people's geographical identity! Then the brain, which is a map unto itself, has more of a chance of remembering people and adding further identifying characteristics in future time. Again, this is with online learning, where there's such a dearth of identifying characteristics!

And in some ways, this dearth is very fun because we can remain completely anonymous. We don't need to brush our hair or get dressed up (or even dressed! :) to come to our classes, do we? Mysterious, too. We can look like anyone and continue to have complete privacy. It's pretty private and pretty great in a number of ways. It feels very safe sometimes, even though we're communicating on the literal world-wide web!

And yet, I still have this yen to place people in my mind. And the word "place" is quite literal for me.

I like to "ground" myself and others on the globe. I do. It enables me to better imagine people and identify them as planetary citizens, which I also like.

- Ruthy V Barton

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