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H. Boulton

Nottingham Trent University (UNITED KINGDOM)
This paper reports findings from a research project, part funded by the Higher Education Academy in the United Kingdom (UK), which set out to identify appropriate technologies to support post-graduate, transnational students working in their second language. As the research has developed new pedagogy has emerged. The students were enrolled on a part-time doctoral course in the UK, delivered in Hong Kong over 4 weekends each year for 3 years, by academics flown in from the UK, and supported throughout their studies by supervisors in the UK. At the start of the research students were making slow progress. The research investigated the use of a range of technologies, including the UK university's Virtual Learning Platform (VLE), wikis, blogs and vodcasts, identifying and developing new pedagogy to support the development of technologies within the course delivery. While literature is extensive in using technologies in learning and teaching in the West, and in teaching international students there appears to be no research focussing on the use of new technologies designed in the West and used in transnational course delivery in the East. Hofstede (1985) identified the need for culture to be acknowledged in teaching and learning while Brown (2004) drawing on Gestalt cognitive theory asserted that the personal theories of learning and constructs of international students differs widely from the Western norm, which can impede learning. Maclean and Ransome (2005) identified studying in a second language, adjusting to an unfamiliar educational context and perceptions of workload which can hamper international student’s progress. The use of VLEs and other technologies in United Kingdom (UK) schools, colleges and universities has been extensive since the 1990s providing a ‘combination of communications tools and file-sharing applications’ (Gillespie et al, 2007, p 3) which are designed as an information space in which interactions occur and students become actors in co-constructing the virtual space (Dillenbourg et al, 2002). The use of technologies in learning in Hong Kong is much less developed and students’ prior experience of pedagogy is mainly traditional (Centre for Information Technology in Education, 2015). A multi-layered approach to data collection through observation, software analytics, questionnaire and interview has provided evidence to support a range of technologies introduced using Salmon’s (2000) 5-step model of engaging students with technologies. This has resulted in a positive experience for transnational students, a faster pace of progress and deeper levels of engagement. The paper will explore the challenges faced by staff and students and provides evidence of how Eastern students can be engaged with technologies and changing practice in terms of pedagogic approaches. An unexpected consequence has been the development of a richer research environment for the students who now co-construct learning with students in the UK through the technologies adopted. While the research focussed on post-graduate students the evidence is transferable to other transnational students.