We’ve heard it before – technology and globalization are changing the way we live and the field of higher education needs to adapt. These conversations are plentiful and necessary, but often happen at the 50,000- foot level regarding curriculum, pedagogy, and business models, while other new obstacles can arise any day.
Take for example the Chinese students enrolled at Binghamton University, who recently got caught in “the great fire wall of China.” Because Google has ignored China’s Internet censorship rules, the Chinese government blocked access to some of its servers which included BMail – Binghamton University’s e-mail system. This means that Chinese students who went home for the summer could not receive important e-mails about housing, meal plans, and other information in preparation for returning to campus. Props must be given to Binghamton University for quickly addressing the problem – within 48 hours of learning about the issue, they sent instructions to all of their Chinese students on how to get around the fire wall.
Binghamton may not have been able to predict that the feud between Google and the Chinese government would affect their students’ ability to communicate, but they reacted immediately and found a solution. As universities and colleges continue to compete for more international students and send more students abroad, they are accepting the risks that come along with a world full of policy snafus and virtual complications. Utilizing global technology and embracing internationalization in any field has its risks – but those who plan and adapt efficiently will succeed.