To describe an exploratory study in which an online learning system was used to provide an intercultural experience for pre‐service education students from New Jersey and Namibia.
Pre‐service education students from New Jersey and Namibia were enrolled in an online course in the fall of 2004. The following semester, spring 2005, only students from New Jersey were enrolled in the course. Online discussion postings were analyzed for both course cohorts and compared. A pre/post questionnaire of students' understanding of cross‐cultural differences in general, and in teaching in particular, was also administered to both course cohorts.
This paper focuses on the growth of New Jersey students' understanding of what teaching in Namibia is like and also looks to see if this led to a greater understanding of their own practice. While there was an indication that the former was achieved and a number of New Jersey students did show a deeper understanding of teaching in Namibia, this did not appear to then lead to a deeper understanding of their own teaching practice.
This was an exploratory pilot study, conducted principally to see if the technology supported this type of experience for students in both developed and developing nations. While this experience will never substitute for a real, in‐person, exchange program or study abroad, the technology did support a limited virtual “exchange” program.
The study indicated that an online course is a very feasible option for providing an intercultural experience for students from developed and developing nations. In order to help students reach deeper levels of understanding of both their intercultural peers and of their own practice, students may need to be exposed to a more explicit model of inter‐ and intra‐ cultural reflection.
This paper gives teacher educators and others a way of providing a virtual intercultural exchange to their students. This is particularly important for students from both developing and developed nations who do not have the financial means to participate in an actual (in‐person) exchange program.
Malone, T. and Wilder, H. (2008), "Chasing
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited