State University of New York (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Page: 1083
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Many online programs are enrolling international students, but few are focusing on exploring the intercultural issues that their courses must navigate. I will present models for collaborative online courses and strategies that engage the cultural points of view inherent in an international classroom with examples from recent SUNY collaborative courses.

For many faculty members, the internationalization of their classes is a goal that has been hard to achieve. I will present a method for faculty course enhancement and describe impediments that may be encountered. I will also raise issues inherent in mixing culturally based learning styles in the online classroom.

I will base my presentation on my experience as the Director of SUNY’s Center for Collaborative Online International Learning. I will discuss the role of university faculty, international education staff, and distance education staff and administrators in developing synergistic intercultural courses and course modules and will also explore the many potential institutional impediments to getting these initiatives implemented. I will examine the role of both asynchronous and synchronous modalities in international collaborations and suggest ways that these can best be integrated, taking into account issues of language, culturally embedded learning styles and time zone variables.

I will also look at ways that online collaborations can function for students as a mechanism for their introduction to other cultures, and how this modality can be integrated into study abroad programs and other forms of student mobility and international exchange, including pre-travel orientation and re-entry workshops.

In any cross-cultural enterprise there is the risk that one culture will intentionally or unintentionally dominate the exchange, and I will describe ways that this form of cultural imperialism can be avoided or at least can be brought to the surface and made part of the discourse.

In order to make my presentation specific and concrete, I will describe courses and course modules recently offered with international partners, where each course takes a different approach to the collaborative work. In one case, a semester-long SUNY sociology course is offered in a online format, engaging students from two other countries (Belarus and Australia). In the second, students in Lithuania and NYC compare and discuss preferred graphic design formats employed by advertisers in different cultures and seek to place their own preferences within this continuum. In the third example, an ESL class in Poland collaborates with a SUNY Community College class through a four-week online module where photos and videos are exchanged.