1 University of Nottingham (UNITED KINGDOM)
2 Free lance (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 5589-5594
ISBN: 978-84-615-3324-4
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 4th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2011
Location: Madrid, Spain
A significant outcome of globalization has been a greater movement of peoples, and societies around the world are increasingly becoming multi cultural. Recent European statistics show that, in 2009, the UK had just over 4 million foreign-born citizens (6.6% of the UK’s total population). Those who come from outside of the EU constitute 3.9% of the UK’s population. The changing demographics and economics of a growing multicultural world and long standing disparities in the health status of people from diverse ethnic groups and cultural backgrounds has led to cultural awareness (also referred to as cultural competence, cultural sensitivity and multiculturalism) in nursing curricula receiving renewed emphasis (Lipson & DeSantis 2007; Law & Muir 2006). A Commission of the European Community (2007) report on nursing stated that experts of today should be able move in global labour markets and they should be able communicate with foreigners. An essential way the report sees this being achieved is through student exchange programmes.

Studies have demonstrated that the most effective way of engendering cultural awareness in students is through student exchange (Koskinen & Tossavainen 2004) since they enhance student’s understanding of the complex dynamics of cultural health and awareness. In addition nursing students who experience an exchange have demonstrated an increased tolerance and willingness to work globally (Kokko 2011). As well as the cultural benefits of student exchange it has also been found to promote personal growth including self reliance and self confidence (REF). Since there are massive numbers of students studying nursing and few have the opportunity to travel for a student exchange experience, we need to find ways to scale up this element of the curriculum so that all students can experience authentic cultural study.

Virtual mobility programmes utilising communication technologies to allow students from different countries and cultures to study together offer a possible solution. Within the context of this paper virtual mobility (VM) means the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to obtain some of the benefits as one would have with physical mobility but without the need to travel. We have been piloting virtual mobility programmes with healthcare students from other countries using a mix of institutional and social communication technologies. With support from the Universitas21 Health consortium, we are now expanding the programme to involve more countries. The programme uses authentic visual and auditory stimuli in order to engage interprofessional groups of students in health care problems facing populations from countries other than their own. Using this problem solving, case study approach students are confronted with scenarios that require them to engage far more than with more static, text based, instructivist informational material. Evaluation research will determine whether this approach does develop cultural awareness and whether learning is more meaningful and enduring. This paper will present the virtual mobility programmes we are delivering, highlighting the benefits and challenges as well as reporting on research findings.
Cultural awareness, virtual technology, case studies.