Question 48

48. From a pedagogical perspective, what areas of your collaborative course do you feel worked best?

NU: The logistics of getting everyone together in and out of class meetings went surprisingly smoothly, with most students (some lagged at the beginning owing to outside work commitments) immediately enjoying the Skype sessions and Discussion Board postings. The level of intellectual and academic rigor was also very satisfying from a faculty standpoint, with students never at a loss for words! Also, the willingness to collaborate and change and modify ideas based on each other’s input in the student pairings was superlative.

Griffith: The contributions from students who had a different cultural perspective broadened the cultural base from which a work was created. There were times when this provoked discussion between the partners, which produced outputs that were the sum of both viewpoints. This broadening of the cultural foundations for creation of screenplays is enormously advantageous as the potential final function of a screenplay is a film that should ideally transcend cultural barriers. A distinctive feature of this course was that it enabled the locus of engagement to remain within a familiar environment: participants were able to create work from within their culture whilst allowing it to be scrutinized by colleagues from outside of that culture.  The common alternative is for participants to physically relocate, however the very nature of creating artistic work in an unfamiliar context is likely to have profound destabilizing consequences. Both approaches have advantages. The central platform of creating expansively, from the Critical Axis, (or original point of inspiration for the story) outwards was a feature that made this course distinctively different from a more conservative approach.  This appeared to synchronize with expectations to examine influences in the creation of a film script.

The video conference discussions were usually designed around a film that was screened by both classes prior to the conference. 

From a pedagogical perspective, ideas about teaching and learning developed well beyond the confines of the institution. This was an exhilarating experience. With regards to the practice of teaching, it enabled a more reflective approach to the processes in which students learn. For example regular classroom teaching is bound by weekly class times and the course schedules i.e. a two-hour class per week and a course calendar.  At times, there is a tendency to over- elaborate and intervene so as to get through the course material. Clearly, the amount of time left for student reflection or problem solving is confined to assessment tasks. With the GLC this process of reflection and problem solving for students was not bound by class time and in fact was turned upside down.

As we found out, the forums also were a great pedagogical tool for instigating critical thinking and reflection. Students were conversing 24/7. The process of reflection and problem solving was ongoing with students sharing personal knowledge inspired from the course readings and then networking these ideas through the forums, which created peer collaboration. Often, students would reflect back to the course readings to substantiate their comments.  The tendency of the instructor to hold back and not intervene in this process was a new experience. 

(CCC) First were the cultural “icebreaker” exchanges via audio file. Second was the introduction of dialect work for our students, which resulted in students asking for a production at CCC in which they could use dialect.

In my view, the intercultural exchange worked best and was a great motivational factor in engaging the classroom discourse as students were able to offer unique cultural insights on creative works from their partner’s nation.  (UB)

Hard to say. Aside from enhancing student interest in what they were learning generally, I really saw the international aspects of the course prompting students to think about the texts from other perspectives, including other peoples’ personal, historical, and political perspectives. And by bringing me more forthrightly into the role of co-learner with them, I was able to model writing, reading, and learning behaviors. (CCC)

Drs. Gupta-Carlson and Aragon worked well in the planning and execution of the collaboration. Dr. Gupta-Carlson is extremely organized! Dr. Aragon is extremely efficient.

Creating some dynamic interaction among students in two sections of first-year writing. Also, the Cafe Bar encouraged students to write and share sincere opinions and ideas, without grade pressure. I think the cafe bar environment succeeded in motivating students to do more thoughtful writing and commenting. 

Videoconference is the best form of communication when it works, but students enjoyed blogging as well.

Clarke: The out-of-class collaborative assignments for smaller student groups were a hit-or-miss affair; it would seem, from the variable quality of the ensuing classroom reports. Some TTU students were sociable, outgoing, and dutiful, while others were more closed up and non-forthcoming. So for me, what worked best was the synchronous classroom. Based on a standard seminar format, this was an arduous three-hour session weekly, broken halfway through by a ten-minute break. These head-on international conversations almost always prospered. As reflected in the student evaluations, often Dirk and I had the chance to rehearse our occasional critical disagreements, in a manner that the more astute among the students were able to value for the intellectual breadth this provided. But more often the students themselves carried the class discussion, and I was always thrilled when a lively give-and-take developed that was truly international, weaving together the Lubbock and Jena seminars into a single whole.

Vanderbeke: I agree with Bruce. I would like to add that for the German students this offered the chance of interaction with their American peers, and as my students study English and American literature and culture, this directly contributed to their chosen field of education. This may have added to the slightly different attitudes between the German and American students.

The more specific the asynchronous and synchronous activities were, in questions, methodology, tools and time-frame, the better the assignments and collaboration seemed to work. The more dedicated and less fussy students were about the give and take, the better the student-run collaboration worked.  The more we stayed in touch and voiced our concerns in a constructive manner and sought pragmatic solutions, the better the teamwork among the three faculty worked.

Junko and Matt are simply a pleasure to work with. It was this interpersonal connection behind the pedagogical development of the course that kept it going and that allowed us to adjust quickly. The variety of technologies used were tightly linked with pedagogical aims, which helped us rethink their use.

This kind of collaborative course gives experiential type of learning to students, so the interview tasks we had were the best parts and worked well although there were some misunderstanding on the task at the beginning. 

  • Collaborative online learning
  • In class group activities
  • Sessions that included lectures and multimedia
  • Data analysis, sharing results from interviews
  • Interviewing activity, creating knowledge through collecting data
  • Student led presentations, enjoyment of creating knowledge and sharing it with peers, peer learning

The subject of the course, the intellectual history of human rights, was greatly enhanced by the networked learning environment.  The course was scaffolded in a way that traced the development of human rights which was great, but the real success occurred in having several of the tensions of human rights, especially the complex relationship between the universal and the particular, play out through the experience students had in working with each other.  

Both aspects--discussion boards and simulation.  The simulation was difficult, however, because the groups didn’t always work well together.  But the time was very compressed for the students to coordinate.  The stronger leaders (very active on Facebook rallying the troops) ultimately produced the best proposals.

From a pedagogical perspective, the Google course blog worked well for asynchronous assignments, and as already mentioned , the synchronous video conferencing proved the most effective tool to engage dialogue, discourse, and student learning. The final course PSA projects also worked extremely well in providing students with a platform to research and further learn about a Women and Gender Studies  course related topic. It also provided students with an oral presentation opportunity delivered to a global audience, which is a valuable skill-building activity.

Importantly, the opportunity for students to learn from faculty in another country was extraordinary as realized by students in each country.

HSE - Definitely work in class: lectures, discussions and student presentations. The Blackboard discussions did not work very well.

GMU - I completely agree with Irina. It is primarily in the things that happened outside of the classroom that improvements are needed. The classroom discussions were on the whole terrific. The student group presentations got significantly better as we proceeded through the course. (Initially, they were to a significant degree a mere repetition of the lectures and class discussions, but about half-way through the course, the students really took them to another level, really bringing in new topics that we had never mentioned in class. It was really the initiative of one particular group presenting on Cambodia that made this change. Subsequent groups were never quite as good, but definitely saw something of an exemplar in the Cambodia group. I think next time we can make our expectations on the group presentations clearer from the beginning, especially that they bring something to the table beyond the lectures, readings, and discussions.)

The arrangement of students in culturally diverse work teams. Each team included at least two MSU students and 2 Geneseo students. The team arrangement “forced” them to interact across cultural lines. 

RAMA: I think that it worked best when the students were active in the lessons and had to talk about a topic or play something for each other.

NCCU: I also think that the students enjoyed the opportunity to interact in discussion online and/or in online or in-person performance(s).  The discussions about the interaction were most impactful for measuring the cultural competencies reached.

UNISA: Live interaction created a more immediate teaching and learning environment. It created a platform for instant feedback on the issues raised and the music performed/played. The person view of participants added a reflective and sometimes quite revealing insight into the perception of live music making.

The assignments were particularly effective in overcoming language barriers. The video exchange assignment was the most effective. Students developed technical communication skills, language skills, technology skills, and cross-cultural collaborative skills through this assignment.

discussions, oral sessions, collaborative projects (US)

  • The written interactions (forums) 
  • Team work within the ULPGC team (and this is very important as these are transferable skills that they can put into practice immediately in other courses)

Creating a space in which American and Turkish students have an opportunity to know each other’s career interests and general aspects of their environments that are not in the textbooks. Sharing very important speakers with the class on topics that are also not generally covered in textbooks.