What is Culture?

Learning objective: Our goal in this class is to not only look at what the cultural practices, traditions, and norms are, but to ask why they came to be.  We will be giving you direct feedback on how well you understand cultural diversity. We will be looking at the reasons for and circumstances of particular traditions and practices in order to learn about deep culture. We will think like anthropologists – ie use the research tools of anthropology while learning about the art, literature, music, dance, clothes, and other forms of visible culture.  Reflections will also be an important part of the writing you do this semester, as will the intercultural development interview.  These allow you to think about not only Turkish culture, but how you think about cultural diversity. We are learning to be cultural learners.
Let’s start by considering one analysis of culture. What do you think of this quote?
“It has long been recognized that culture is very hard for humans to think about culture. Like fish in water, we fail to “see” culture because it is the medium within which we exist.” (Cole, 1996, p. 8)
Image of a fish in a fishbowl

Fish, by mohamed_hassan, Pixabay, CC0 https://pixabay.com/illustrations/fish-aquarium-bowl-aquatic-4191925/

What is the water? What do we take for granted as understood when we’re in our own culture?
What do you think about this quote?
“Encounters with other cultures make it easier to grasp our own as an object of thought.”  (Cole, 1996, p. 8)
Let’s make a word cloud to capture our thinking – https://www.jasondavies.com/wordcloud/
What would you tell someone from another country about culture in your home town?
So. . . Are there aspects of culture we do see?
  • Material Culture
  • Cultural Practices
Write your thoughts down about your own culture and save for the autobiography assignment.
Would anyone like to share?
Visible and Invisible aspects of culture:


Graphic of an iceberg

This graphic of an iceberg shows the different aspects of culture, visible (above the water), and invisible (below the water). Iceberg, by Olga Berrios, Flickr, CC 2.0, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ofernandezberrios/2427741646

Cole, M. (1996). Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. /z-wcorg/.



Grant Awarded to Implement Assessment

Dr. Danielle Schoon and I got good news on our proposal for a grant from the University Institute for Teaching and Learning at OSU.  We were awarded funds for Spring semester 2020 to implement our e-portfolio and conduct Intercultural Development Inventories for about 20 (we hope) students taking Turkish Culture 2241 and 3350 Contemporary Issues in Turkey.

There are multiple ways this project will contribute to student learning at OSU. Students of this generation are already interacting with other cultures online, but not necessarily in a safe or guided academic environment. An ePortfolio template that utilizes the latest technology for ongoing assessment, ‘gamification’ through Buckeye Badges (see Badging FAQ),and online community building, can direct the learning toward both intercultural awareness gains and marketable tech skills. Online intercultural learning opportunities exist as a more accessible option than education abroad and these opportunities may also be stepping stones toward education abroad. In the case of Turkey (and many Middle Eastern countries), study abroad is restricted or not possible.

Each time we run the program, we continue to update and refine the learning templates, instructional materials/tools for engagement, and assessment rubrics.  We would like any feedback you may have on these resources – please comment below.

Image of Multiflower tulip, gouache on vellum, in: Gottorfer Codex, Hans-Simon Holtzbecker [Public domain] CC.0

The tulip, or lale, is a pervasive motif in Turkish textiles and connects modern Turkish identity to its Ottoman and Central Asian roots. The tulips also connects Ottoman history to European history via the Dutch tulip trade. This image: Multiflower tulip, gouache on vellum, in: Gottorfer Codex, Hans-Simon Holtzbecker [Public domain] CC.0

We Finished the e-Book!

I am happy to report that Dr. Danielle Schoon and I finally finished the e-book Windows Into Turkish Culture. This student-authored academic introduction to Turkey provides one social, cultural, or historical lens per chapter to provide insights into Turkey today. This book is the result of research conducted by undergraduate students at OSU as a part of “Turkish 2241: Turkish Culture.” This work was done with the help of Turkish students at Istanbul University under the guidance of Professor Mehmet Acikalin.  For more on the project, please see What We Learned From the Pilot.

Cover of our e-book, Photograph by Melisa Akbulut

Cover of our e-book, Photograph by Melisa Akbulut

e-Book Grading Rubric (Example of a Global Media Project)

Students were assigned an e-book as their final project in the pilot, which also allowed them to earn the Global Media Project Buckeye Badge. One of the aspects of the final project which made it really unique is that the students had the opportunity to become published authors.  We actually published this as an official OSU textbook, so we needed to meet all the normal expectations for academic quality. Here are the criteria they needed to meet, which obviously went above and beyond the grades they earned.
Criteria for publication:
  • Originality – produce original thought on the topic of your chapter/s.
  • Argumentation – text should be well-argued, and any statements of fact cited.
  • Diversity of sources – base your research on diverse academic sources, at least three.
  • Inclusion of authentic voices – get feedback from your peers in Turkey on what you are writing.
  • Relevance of images – images should be relevant. Choose images which enhance and bolster what you are saying in the text. 
What will automatically disqualify your chapter:
  • Plagiarism – if we discover plagiarism that somehow went undetected through out the semester’s reviews, the work will automatically be disqualified.
  • Copyright violation – images without proper attribution (TASL) will be disqualified.
  • Lack of description or proper attribution in image captions and/or breakout boxes.
Rubric of evaluation for the e-book as a whole:
  • Was it fact-checked?
  • Do images add value to the text?
  • Does the text reproduce imperialist images, or challenge stereotypical thinking about Turkey?
  • Did you account for your Turkish peers’ perspectives on each major topic?
  • Did the team maintain the production timeline, meet deadlines?
e-book cover (prior version), image by Melisa Akbulut

e-book cover (prior version), image by Melisa Akbulut

E-book assignment details

We had an excellent response to our presentations at the conference on Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and the Innovate Conference, with many coming to us afterwards to discuss. We are forming a team to run the next online global learning environment for this project (soon-to-be-program, I hope).

One person wrote to ask for the details of our e-book assignment. So I pasted the assignment below, including the assigned roles, the process students followed, and our criteria for quality. Please also see our assessment rubric as part of the “Global Media Project” Buckeye Badge.

As you may know from previous blog posts, we assigned an e-book that the students co-authored as their final project.

Cover of our e-book, Photograph by Melisa Akbulut

Cover of our e-book, Photograph by Melisa Akbulut

Please comment!

Team Roles:
Image Curator: Picturing
image research: enhancing current collection of images, identifying more effective images
image management – tracking TASL, URLs, permission paperwork
image editing – proper resolution, cropping, enhancement
Copy Writer: Production
caption-writing: describing what’s in the images, why they are important
summarizing research, annotate bibliography
synthesizing information from research, Turkish peers, and visual information to convey a single message in each chapter.
Organizer/Finisher: Polish
quote box, image placement
logical, effective and attractive placement of images. Decisions regarding number of images per chapter (with input from team).
any other front / back matter, media embeds
Project Manager: Purpose
track research priorities, keep group focused on thesis statement, provide ongoing feedback to other team members
Through meetings and frequent communication online, ensure time proper timeframes, communication between team members
Ensure quality and brevity, keep everyone on task, by reviewing rough drafts, suggesting reducing scope of content when necessary, defining how the book is adding value to research as a whole.
Copy Editor: Precision
fact check captions, bibliography annotations, and primary text
grammatical correction and clarity of expression
spelling and style
Step 1: Everyone: Organize their sources, tag each link with key words.
Step 2: Send to Copy Writer, who begins sorting information with tags in Buckeye box. Image Curator begins searching for images now, tags images, sends to organizer.  Rest of group continues searching.
Step 3: Organizer shares document with group, giving editing privileges to copy writer.  Copy Writer begins annotating sources, writing captions under images.
Step 4: Copy Writer sends bibliography and images with captions to the Project Manager, who facilitates thesis statement discussion, keeps to timeframe (deadline).
Step 5: Copy writer writes paragraph summarizing what the chapter is about and why. Copy Editor edits the paragraph, any related image captions, writes tentative outline for chapter, sends to group.  Project Manager checks in with each member individually to ask what they think of the outline, how the process went, what the challenges were – revises outline then sends to group with a reminder of the deadline.
  • annotated bibliography
  • images with descriptive captions, TASLs
  • thesis generator
Examples: Ohio State e-books:https://osu.pb.unizin.org/
Criteria for Quality:
  • Proper attribution for images, ideas and any other creation.
  • Detailed descriptions of images, why they are significant to the research topic.
  • Team-work – did everyone complete tasks for their role in a timely fashion? Did the group help when someone was struggling with some aspect of the project? Did each person ask for what they needed to get their work done, but not do more than what is required for their role?

Our Presentation at Innovate

We’re presenting at the Innovate conference tomorrow! It has been a great motivation to get the implementation tool kit and research pages competed on this web site.  We also half-way done with the e-book our students produced as their final project.

If you get a chance, stop by and see us at 2:30 tomorrow at the Innovate conference! Details: https://innovateu.osu.edu/innovate-2018-forward/engaging-students-in-global-learning-online

Cover of our e-book, Photograph by Melisa Akbulut

Cover of our e-book, Photograph by Melisa Akbulut

Reflections on Istanbul from Three Directions

This semester we discuss “A Strangeness in My Mind” by Orhan Pamuk, in a group that includes our Turkish partners in Istanbul.

We are engaging people living daily life in Istanbul, people on the outside of those experiences looking in, and the experiences of fictional characters in the novel. What a fascinating triangulation.

This kind of perspective-taking activity shows off the strength of humanities and social sciences for building understanding of diverse cultural contexts. The e-portfolio is intended for a broader audience, eventually, but it is admittedly easier to run the pilot in a course offered by Near Eastern Languages and Cultures (Turkish 2241).

Boza Seller Image, Public Domain, CC0

Boza Seller Image, Public Domain, CC0

e-Portfolio Work Supports Goals Which Go Beyond Global Competency

 This global learning e-portfolio support the university’s teaching, research and service missions by:
  • providing an opportunity for authentic intercultural learning
  • laying the foundation for a research project on global online learning outcomes
  • creating a more inclusive environment at OSU for traditionally underrepresented students, esp with regard to study abroad.  Our goal is to engage and support these students in the pursuit of cultural studies and especially study abroad.

Badging: A form of high-impact learning

We introduced the learning activities this morning to our U.S.-based OSU students. They seemed enthusiastic about the chance to learn about Turkish culture – not only be interacting with texts from/about it, but with actual Turkish people.  These students all had prior cross-cultural experience, and seemed to understand the value of this opportunity.

I focused on explaining the details of the badges they can earn by participating in these activities.  The badges are not “add-ons” but are based on the assignments of the course.  The badges merely capture student achievements, and hopefully help to make them more visible to future employers. Please see our FAQ on Global Learning Buckeye Badges for further information.

Badges, especially as part of e-portfolios, are one of the high impact practices of education (provided they are designed well). In sum, e-portfolios:

  • go beyond the academic transcript by providing future employers a set of prompts to assess applicants (Kuh,2016).
  • provide an ongoing process of digestion, processing, if well-designed (Kuh,2016).
Image of infinity symbol with gather, reflect, feedback written

By Mosborne01 (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons