P. Joshi

University of Kentucky (UNITED STATES)
Dress and Culture is a cross cultural course taught at a large mid-western university in United States. The course has two sections, one is taught in a traditional classroom while the other section is taught as a fully online course. It is a study of the social, cultural, physical and psychological factors which influence dress and use of dress in contemporary societies. One of the course objectives is to gain an appreciation of cultural diversity as it is expressed through physical appearance.
To achieve this objective the students in the online course were paired with a student from one of the universities in Africa. The project required the students to interact with their African counterpart online, interview them and understand more about their culture with focus on the dress. The American students also shared their cultural and dress information with the African students. The students could communicate by e-mail, social networks or online messenger services.
This novel experience was appreciated by the students in both continents. Even though the student did not meet each other in person, the Internet allowed them to learn about a different culture first-hand. Given the orientation of generation Y students who have grown up with Internet, they were very comfortable to interact with a person from other cultures via Internet. Students at both universities were eager to participate and share information. The project did face some technological problems which could be overcome in further studies. The study also revealed some ideas to make the project work effectively for participants in both countries.