Classrooms without (International) Boundaries

Brent Johnson Mr, Pacific University

For many students, it’s simply not possible to study abroad—cost, credits, double majors, core requirements, and so on. How might technology, then, simulate the learning possibilities gained when traveling—from comparing one’s cultural perspective with that of another’s—without ever having to leave home? This session will report on a Berglund Center for the Internet Fellowship driven course titled “US-Brit Cyber Exchange,” in which a classroom of ennobled students from Pacific University shared texts, opinions, and reactions with students from York St. John University in York, England, via interactive tools of the internet. The course, being literature based, encouraged students from both sides of the Atlantic to ask, “How do I understand literary texts, as well as the text of myself, from a cultural point of view?”

Because we are often unaware of the cultural assumptions we bring to a text, the purpose of this session is to consider how a technologically enhanced classroom can help tease out those assumptions, making students more enlightened readers of literature and themselves. For instance, how might students more likely value historical and cultural influences on a novel when they recognize the unconscious modes of interpretation while reading? When these modes are challenged or exposed to multiple perspectives, how does their awareness of a reader’s relationship to the cultural context of a book, to him or herself, become more pronounced? When considered more theoretically, how does this broaden and deepen what we mean by literacy and to be fully literate of textual meaning?

Through reviewing the results of the US-Brit Cyber Exchange course taught in the spring semester of 2013, participants will learn the process, procedures, and pros and cons of a cross-cultural, blended online classroom. From online forums and trans-Atlantic video classes to in-class discussions and digital storytelling, this session will consider the potential benefits and actual shortcomings of the internet within cross-cultural education. This presentation will walk participants through the creation and administration of the course as well as evaluate the effectiveness of blended online education. The potential impacts the session promises center on how technology affects the way we can understand literature, as well as ourselves, as a cultural product.

Abstract

Come explore the possibilities of how a blended online course can connect your classes to students around the world using various tools of the internet, enriching perspectives for all involved.

 

Classrooms without (International) Boundaries

Come explore the possibilities of how a blended online course can connect your classes to students around the world using various tools of the internet, enriching perspectives for all involved.