Promoting Cultural Dialogue with E-Learning

A shared interest to acquaint people with cultural values and backgrounds as highly diverse as Hungary, Turkey and Japan is the motivating force that stands behind the e-learning project Learning Design of Courses Utilising ICT for Promoting Intercultural Dialogue that Dr Kumiko Aoki, National Institute of Multimedia Education, Japan, and Molnar Pal, Karolu Gaspar University, Hungary, will present at OEB 2008. On the initiative of three local media-education departments, two bi-national tele-collaborative classes were started to provide participants with in-depth information about each other’s attitudes towards their varying perceptions of reality.

When people sharing the same culture and language collaborate with one another, common ground in regard to cultural patterns and values is easily established. With people from highly diverse international backgrounds, one cannot be certain that mutual awareness is available right from the start. Collaborating on a certain task, however, helps the parties to align to each other when working together. With the availability of free or inexpensive communication tools on the Internet, it is possible to design tailormade courses supporting this process, says Dr Kumiko Aioki.


The telecollaborative class project that the Associate Professor at the National Institute of Multimedia Education in Japan will present in the plenary Realising Borderless Education started in April 2006. It connects an Online Communication class at Anadolu University in Turkey and a Media Communication class at the Kanda University of International Studies in Japan. The idea of the project emerged when Aoki visited Anadolu University in February the same year. The aim of the project is to provide students with opportunities to collaborate internationally using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).


Despite the selection of appropriate tools, project initiators should also come up with a series of learning activities and tasks that are to be done locally with the partner class – individually as well as collaboratively – to facilitate intercultural dialogue and learning. The Turkish-Japanese class, for example, includes both individual tasks like self-introductions via video messages and group work like deciding on a certain topic to do reseach on and preparing presentations. During class time, video conferencing took place accompanied by instant messaging outside class hours. Skype, e-mail and web forums helped the students keep in touch. The group also used several Google tools like Google Presentation to edit their findings.


Another class, linking Hungary and Japan, used several social network applications to write and share students’ blogs, files and presentations, as well as to create a cohesive community in order to get to know one another and learn from the international partners. Collaboration via Facebook was organised last semester because of its well-designed and localised user interface. Other factors included the platform’s multi-faceted functionalities such as the ability to create groups, run applications and share not only messages, but also pictures, videos, aggregated blog posts and activities.


At OEB, the two project initiators will discuss these cases in terms of building blocks of learning design. These include technological tools and resources, learning activities and tasks and assessment methods for students’ learning. Other facets comprise the logistics of coordinating the learning goals of each course as well as the activities, tasks, technological tools and resources.


Dr Kumiko Aoki

Aoki will then turn her attention to the issues that need to be considered when planning such intercultural collaborative courses such as language, the technological infrastructure, technical support, the quesiton of synchronous vs. asynchronous communication tools, the size and composition of each collaborative group, institutional charactersitcs and so on. Finally, she will also present a coherent framework for designing such courses.


The session GLO60 Realising Borderless Education will take place on Friday, December 5, 11:45 – 13:30.

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