This page shares our ongoing research and introduces some of the main topics we are interested in pursuing.  We conducted a pilot during fall semester of 2017 and we conducted a study in 2021 on how online cross-cultural conversations affect intercultural awareness. The topics generally related to global competency, high impact practices, intercultural learning. Please let us know if you would be interested in collaborating. The student feedback from the pilot was that it was more work than what they were expecting for a 2000 level course but they were highly engaged and were positive about the authentic learning.  The students had the option to go above and beyond the requirements for their grade. Most completed their portion of the co-authored e-book we created. You can see the group project and grading rubric we used included requirements for publication. We learned also that teamwork was greatly enhanced by setting aside 2 classes to focus on the group project work and make progress together.  We also made team meeting check-ins a requirement and teamwork part of earning the Global Media Project badge.

Experiential Learning and Reflection

Authentic experiential learning and reflection are essential components of both badges.  As early as 1938, Dewey proposed the idea of learning through experience. Boydell (1976) later suggested that students learn best when they uncover knowledge on their own, as the result of personal experiences. Kolb (1984) expanded this to focus on the necessity of reflection for experiential learning. More current studies have shown that study abroad provides experiential learning and the opportunity to reflect meaningfully on personal experiences (Mouton 2002) and results in the transformation of the learner’s perspectives on the world (Brown 2009; Morgan 2010; Rowan-Kenyon and Niehaus, 2011).

Online Cross-cultural Learning

These badges require sustained interaction, and successful learning experiences with peers at institutions in other countries.  Digital learning experiences are projected to become an essential part of the “learning ecosystem” (Mintz, 2015) of universities of the future.  While interactions online are considered “virtual”, the interactions are real; i.e., the physical interaction between two or more individuals may be virtual, via avatars or the like, but it is the interaction that is nonetheless authentic.  These “real” interactions are mediated by technology, but are occurrences of actual contact, despite the misconceptions about online interactions.  These interactions are worthy of further investigation as research has found that, when abroad, cultural learning gains increase with an increase in interactions with the locals (Berg, Connor-Linton, & Paige, 2009; Berg, 2009).  The strengths of online global learning hold particular salience for college graduates, who must now be competent in cross-cultural settings, due to the globalized economy and interconnected world. Research has shown that online settings are advantageous for in-depth reflection on culture, inclusion of diverse voices, and the ability to center the learner and individualize teaching for diverse student bodies (Merryfield, 2003).  Certain tools and methods used for online learning activities reduce inhibitions that may otherwise prevent sharing of life experiences, equalize participation in discussions, and personalize the learning to better engage students of all cultural backgrounds (Merryfield, 2003; Tu & McIsaac, 2014). These tools and methods can bring a rich (and largely untapped) pedagogical resource to intercultural learning because they can “bring people together to process content, share ideas and experiences, collaborate in projects or create teachable moments” (p. 151).According to Merryfield (2003), online learning is advantageous for cross-cultural learning objectives because it allows students to learn together and go deeper than they can in the traditional classroom. Merryfield (2003) identifies several important ways online learning is unique, that have special relevance for cross-cultural learning:

  • Conversations can extend beyond the time-limit of class, allowing a more in-depth analysis of cultural materials.
  • Online formats promote reflection; mini-reflections have become standard modes for measuring student progress toward badges and other elements of e-Portfolios.
  • Students share more about their cultural experiences due to the sensation of anonymity that online settings provide.

These and other possibilities exist in the online environment, which provide opportunities for perspective-taking. For example, open forums allow students to witness conversations between students of another culture. Merryfield (2003) refers to a case in which students were privy to a heated conversation between three of their Turkish peers: “Another dimension of online discussions is access to insider discourse among people whom most of the majority of the class would never hear talking to each other” (p. 153).In this section, we have discussed obstacles for student access to authentic cross-cultural experience, from economic limitations, to social bias, to physical challenges.  These all deserve in-depth consideration.  We posit a practical way to address the challenges students face with regard to gaining cross-cultural life experience, especially in a directed learning environment.  We are intent on creating a responsive learning environment for all involved in this project and this research, which includes our Turkish partners as co-equal in the processes of learning and discovery.  As we develop students’ “perspective consciousness” (Hanvey,1983) we are committed to the development of our own, which we consider a life-long learning process and journey. We hope that by presenting this case in a way which is meaningful for many university settings, and supplying tools for implementation, we will have an impact at other universities as well.


Selected Bibliography on Cross-cultural Learning Online

Appana, Subhashni. 2008. “A Review of Benefits and Limitations of Online Learning in the Context of the Student, the Instructor, and the Tenured Faculty.” International Journal on E-Learning, v7 n1 p5-22.


Bennett, M. J. (1986). A developmental approach to training for intercultural sensitivity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 10(2), 179–196.


Berg, M. V. (2009). Intervening in student learning abroad: a research-based inquiry. Intercultural Education, 20.


Berg, M. V., Connor-Linton, J., & Paige, R. M. (2009). The Georgetown Consortium Project: Interventions for Student Learning Abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 18, 1–75.


Boydell, T. 1976. Experiential Learning. Manchester: Department of Adult Education, University of Manchester.


Brown, L. 2009. “The Transformative Power of the International Sojourn: An Ethnographic Study of the International Student Experience.” Annals of Tourism Research, 36 (3): 502-21.


Carley, Susan and Tudor, R. Keith. 2006. “Assessing the Impact of Short-Term Study Abroad.” Journal of Global Initiatives: Policy, Pedagogy, Perspective: Vol. 1: No. 2, Article 5.


Dennis, M. 2004. “Looking ahead: Mega-trends in student enrollment.” Administrator, January, pp. 4, 7.


Dewey, J. 1938. Experience and Education. New York: Macmillan.


Fournier. (2016, July 21). Global Learning VALUE Rubric [Text]. Retrieved July 25, 2017, from


Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: theory, research, and practice. New York: Teachers College.

Hadis, B. 2005. “Why Are They Better Students When They Come Back? Determinants of Academic Focusing Gains in the Study Abroad Experience.” Frontiers, 11: 57-70.


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Kang, J. H., Kim, S. Y., Jang, S., & Koh, A.-R. (2017). Can college students’ global competence be enhanced in the classroom? The impact of cross- and inter-cultural online projects. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 0(0), 1–11.


Kozma, R. B. 2001. “Counterpoint Theory of ‘Learning with Media.’ In R. E. Clark (ed), Learning from Media: Arguments, Analysis, and Evidence, pp. 137-178. Greenwish, CT: Information Age Publishing Inc.


Kitsantas, A. 2004. “Studying Abroad: The Role of College Students’ Goals on the Development of Cross-Cultural Skills and Global Understanding.” College Student Journal, 38 (3): 441-52.


Kolb, D. A. 1984. Experiential Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.


Kozma, R. B. 2001. “Counterpoint Theory of ‘Learning with Media.’ In R. E. Clark (ed), Learning from Media: Arguments, Analysis, and Evidence, pp. 137-178. Greenwish, CT: Information Age Publishing Inc.


Lane, K. 2003. “Report: Educators call for more study-abroad programs.” Community College Week, pp.3,14.


Marklein, M. B. 2003, November 18. “Students’ interest in overseas study still rising.” USA Today, p. 7D.


McCabe, L. T. 1994. “The development of a global perspective during participation in semester at sea: A comparative global education program.” Educational Review, 46, 275-286.


McMurtrie, B. 2005. “Study-abroad numbers rise.” Chronicle of Higher Education 52(13), p. A45.


Morgan, A. D. 2010. “Journeys into Transformation: Travel to an ‘Other’ Place as a Vehicle for Transformative Learning.” Journal of Transformative Education, 8 (4): 246-68.


Mouton, W. 2002. “Experiential Learning in Travel Environments as a Key Factor in Adult Learning.” Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 69 (1): 36-42.


Merryfield, M. M. (2003). Like a Veil. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education. Retrieved from


Mintz, S. (2015, April 27). Digital Learning Experiences | Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from


Novelli, M., and P. Burns. 2010. “Peer-to-Peer Capacity-Building in Tourism: Values and Experiences of Field-Based Education.” Development Southern Africa, 27 (5): 741-56.


O’Rear, I., Sutton, R. L., & Rubin, D. L. (2012). The Effect of Study Abroad on College Completion in a State University System. GLOSSARI. Retrieved from


Paige, R. M., University of Minnesota, & Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition. (2009). Maximizing study abroad: a students’ guide to strategies for language and culture learning and use. Minneapolis, Minn.: Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition, University of Minnesota.


Policy Brief: Global Competence is a 21st Century Initiative. (2010). National Education Association. Retrieved from


Putting the World into World Class Education: State Innovations and Opportunities. (2008). Asia Society and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Retrieved from


Rhodes, G., Biscarra, A., Loberg, L., & Roller, K. (2012). Study abroad as a collaborative endeavor. ABC About Campus, 16(6), 2–10.


Ring, G. and Mathieux, G. 2002. “The Key Components of Quality Learning.” Paper presented at the ASTD Techknowledge 2002 Conference, Las Vegas.


Rowan-Kenyon, H. T., and E. K. Niehaus. 2011. “One Year Later: The Influence of Short-Term Study Abroad Experiences on Students.” Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, 48 (2): 207-22.


Stone, Matthew J., and James F. Petrick. 2013. “The Educational Benefits of Travel Experiences: A Literature


Stony Brook University Career Center. (n.d.). Career Skills Digital Badges.  Retrieved July 27, 2017, from


Stuart, D. K. (2012). Taking Stage Development Theory Seriously: Implications for Study Abroad. In M. V. Berg, R. M. Paige, & K. H. Lou (Eds.), Student Learning Abroad: What Our Students Are Learning, What They’re Not, and What We Can Do About It (pp. 61–89). Sterling, Va: Stylus Publishing. Retrieved from


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Vande Berg, M., Connor-Linton, J., & Paige, R. M. (2009). The Georgetown Consortium Project: Interventions for Student Learning Abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 18, 1–75.


Walton, J. (1992). Making the theoretical case. In C. C. Ragin & H. S. Becker (Eds.), What Is a Case?: Exploring the Foundations of Social Inquiry. (pp. 121–137). New York: Cambridge University Press.


Ware, P. (2013). Teaching comments: intercultural communication skills in the digital age. Intercultural Education, 24(4).


Workforce Innovation Board, Southwest Missouri. (n.d.). Employers embrace Digital Badges for skill credentials. Retrieved July 27, 2017, from