How to get started

Once you’ve decided to incorporate a GNL component into your course, it is recommended you work through the following steps to ensure that you create a learning experience that meets your goals and minimizes potential pit-falls. You might also choose to seek out a workshop offered by the Teaching Commons on e-learning and/or GNL.


There are very few courses that cannot incorporate a GNL component but it might not be immediately obvious what aspects of your course can benefit.

Ask yourself the following questions.

  1. Is there a component of your course that could benefit from your students discussing shared course material with a group of students in a different political/social/environmental/cultural location?
  2. Is there a component of your course where you seek to bring different perspectives to the fore?
  3. Is there a component of your course where students need to document their own or someone else’s experience/understanding or knowledge?
  4. Is there a component of your course that involves the development of collaborative work that would benefit from the group being international in scope?
  5. Is there a component of your course that already engages, through text, video or otherwise, another location?

These components are the easiest to transform into a GNL opportunity in your course.


What are your primary objectives for incorporating GNL?

  •  Do you want to build students capacity to work in cross-cultural groups?
  •  Do you want to foster greater intercultural understanding and global awareness?
  •  Do you want to foster the development of skills suitable for a globalizing workplace?

Keep your primary objective in mind as you design the collaborative exercise. For instance, intercultural understanding can develop through conversation about a particular topic, the sharing of personal stories about a subject (e.g., environmental change) or the sharing of cultural information (eg pictures of the route students take to school, or food eaten in a day). Whereas if your focus is on transferable skills, developing and implementing a group project across different time zones, learning styles and cultures could be a good GNL assignment.


Choose your technology.

To minimize technological challenges, you should limit your GNL to technology you and your students are comfortable with and are easily able to access. Make note of the kinds of technology your students have access to through the university or are familiar with through informal use (video-conferencing, facebook, skype, LMS, cloud computing). You will have to revisit this issue once you find a partner. Look at the online resource page for some ideas.


How can you prepare your students for intercultural and international learning?

Think about whether your students are open to and prepared for the kind of learning opportunity GNL provides. Are they likely to be aware of cultural differences in terms of communication or working styles? See the intercultural learning module that you can use to develop this awareness in your students.