The Middle East Studies Center has developed an e-portfolio template for online global learning that we are currently piloting as part of “Introduction to Turkish Culture”, Turkish 2241, taught by Dr. Danielle V. Schoon, faculty member of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. The model connects faculty at OSU with faculty at a foreign institution, and provides them with a template of learning activities, facilitative tech tools and a cross cultural collaboration framework for a group media project. It includes assessment tools and technology for providing ongoing feedback to students, and providing a snapshot of student progress to faculty. It is an approach to global online learning which takes the most effective elements of online learning and leverages them towards gains in cross-cultural effectiveness. The activities start with communication skills, segue to academic content about culture the students are interacting with, and culminate in a group project which requires teamwork with their peers at the foreign institution. The intention of this program is to provide access to authentic intercultural experiential learning to every OSU student, regardless of race, gender, religion, ability, sexuality, or economic status. Our next step is to develop a set of assignments inclusive of the needs of students in diverse degree programs and professional schools. The template is intended to be content-independent, and workable for faculty in all of our colleges, but the specific assignments may look different depending on the field.
The Global Learning e-Portfolio’s Primary Elements
- Learning activities designed to increase intercultural awareness, and strengthen cross-cultural teamwork skills. Conversations are facilitated first to achieve communication and collaboration objectives.
- Buckeye Badges help to engage students and function as an assessment tool for the instructor. They are easily publishable to e-Portfolios and the achievements they verify help to build resumes.
- An e-portfolio to capture important learning milestones and achievements. We recommend a private e-portfolio in addition to one for public display. The private space encompasses all artifacts, feedback, and reflections possible, while the public e-portfolio focuses on key achievements the individual wishes to highlight. Public options include the following platforms (of course, building one’s own web site is also always an option):
- The Global Community Building Buckeye Badge. This badge reflects an articulation between academic learning objectives and skills for a competitive job market, especially with regard to cross-cultural effectiveness. It also lays the groundwork for the next badge.
- A cross-cultural collaboration framework, as outlined in the “Global Media Project” Buckeye Badge.
The following assignments are presented in step-by-step fashion and correspond to our learning rubric. You are of course welcome to “mix it up” to your preference, but we strongly advise you to set students’ expectations for the coming semester first with ground rules and a working definition of culture (the first two assignments).
It is extremely helpful share what the definition of “culture” will be in the class before starting the cross-cultural learning activities. We recommend defining it together in class on the first day in brain-storm fashion before providing students with the academic definition you will be working with. You are welcome to start with our word cloud brainstorm activity and the definition we used, located here. We also recommend taking time out to discuss what culture is with this presentation, “What is Culture?”
Intercultural Icebreaker Assignment
There are two dimensions to this assignment: 1) building rapport with conversation partners, 2) and building awareness of self as cultural being (Gay, 2010, p. 69). Assign students a brief autobiography (see below) which requires sharing about the values they were raised with, and basic information about their “home town.” The template we provide includes conversation starters and asks students to share their interests because we facilitated multiple discussions on the facets of daily life in each culture. Knowing their interests helped us understand where topics might challenge them more and where their strengths would be. More detailed explanations for the how to write the autobiography are provided in the template. We highly recommend giving the students a format to follow so autobiographies are consistent. The following assignment was originally developed by Merry Merryfield. We highly recommend you check out her work on global education online.
The steps for this assignment are as follows:
- Post your autobiography on the discussion forum
- Comment on three other autobios, choosing autobios which do not have comments first.
- Demonstrate active listening skills when responding to comments on your bio and responses to your comments on other bios.
- Respond to any comments within a 24 hour period – it is important not to let any thread go unattended.
Set timeframes for each of the above, the entire assignment shouldn’t take more than one week.
We highly recommend a team-produced creative project, which includes participants in the other country.
Student-authored e-book assignment
We assigned an e-book on Turkish culture which required our students to integrate the perspectives of their Turkish peers. The final product can be viewed here. The assignment is laid out in detail in this blog post, and you are also welcome to use our grading rubric.