EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING IN CYBERSPACE: USING INTERNET TO CONNECT STUDENTS FROM DIFFERENT CULTURES IN A COURSE ON CROSS-CULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY
1 Växjö University (SWEDEN)
2 University of Minnesota Duluth (UNITED STATES)
3 Makerere University (UGANDA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Abstract:In this paper we will present a pilot project where three universities on different continents (Africa, America and Europe) collaborated to offer a joint course on cross- cultural Psychology. Both students and teachers were evenly distributed between the universities and all interaction took place through a distance education platform. The course was structured to facilitate interaction between students from the different continents in a virtual international class room and thereby to add an experiential dimension to the theoretical contents of the course. To tentatively evaluate if a course of this kind could affect students attidudes a test on ethnoecentrism was distributed before and after the course. Students evaluations of the different tools that were used are presented along with their evaluations of the course as a whole and their suggestions for future courses.
Of the different learning tools that were used, the Discussion tool was most appreciated. Group projects, were students from different countries had to coordinate their efforts to solve problems, collect data and present joint solutions, was the most difficult to manage. Different time zones and difficulties in establishing efficient intra group communication seem to have been the main obstacles. No general effect on ethnocentric values was found, but a higher degree of involvement in the course was related to decreased ethnocentrism, as measured by us.
We conclude that modern distance education platforms have a great potential in connecting students and teachers in different parts of the world to enhance learning and intercultural understanding, but that the cultural differences also present a challenge for the teachers to plan and arrange such a course in a way that takes these cultural differences into account along with the different societal and economical conditions in the countries that are represented.
Keywords: Distance education, Globalization, Ethnocentrism, Innovation, Technology.