Culturally Diverse Learners: April 12 - 30, 2010

Welcome to our April seminar!

Welcome to our April seminar!

by Sylvia Currie -
Number of replies: 27
Welcome to the Culturally Diverse Learners seminar!

About this seminar:

During this 3-week seminar we will be sharing and discussing a video series developed at Thompson Rivers University. These filmed scenarios aim to address the needs of educators and students to enhance intercultural competencies by providing a spring board for dialogue and reflection on best practices for intercultural learning environments.

Resources:

This SCoPE seminar combines a 3-week asynchronous forum discussion with two 1-hour live sessions in Elluminate: http://tinyurl.com/tru-cdl
  • Monday, April 12, 12:00 PST, 19:00 GMT
  • Monday, April 26, 12:00 PST, 19:00 GMT
About our facilitators:

Kyra Garson is an intercultural consultant, and works through the Centre for Teaching and Learning and TRU world on a variety of initiatives to internationalize TRU. She is the primary author of TRU: A Globally Minded Campus—A Resource for Academic Departments, as well as a suite of other resources to encourage a culturally inclusive campus. Kyra facilitates workshops for students, faculty, and staff to build intercultural competencies and is committed to gaining recognition for this increasingly important skill set in academic settings.

Emma Bourassa is in the Faculty of Student Development at TRU where she teaches a number of courses in ESL and Multicultural Communication. She has taught in both the K-12 and post secondary sectors, and in other countries. In addition to her interests in Intercultural communication she also has a background in visual and dramatic arts, which she obviously put to good use in making this series!

Wesley Eccleston is the Theatre Coordinator for the department of Visual and Performing Arts and directs the annual TRU Actors' Workshop. His areas of interest include environmental scenography and he actively promotes the development of drama through his participation with municipal and provincial arts organizations.

Participating in SCoPE seminars
SCoPE seminars are free and open to the public, and registration is not required. You are welcome to come and go according to your schedule and interests. To contribute you will need to create an account on the SCoPE site -- a quick process. Are you new to SCoPE or wondering how to manage your participation? Check this resource.

If you have any questions about participating in SCoPE don't hesitate to ask here in the forum, or get in touch with me directly:
Sylvia Currie, SCoPE Coordinator
scurrie@bccampus, skype:webbedfeat, 250-318-2907
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Nicholas Bowskill -
Hi Everyone,
I think these seminars are great professional development and they raise issues about inter-cultural issues in this context. Coming in from the UK and working with others from other countries always makes me check myself to see if I'm making assumptions or being potentially offensive even with the best intentions.

However, I was interested in this seminar because it is a much bigger issue than I think is generally realised in a connected world. New models of collaboration and delivery are deeply related to this issue. For instance I worked with a tutoring team from China to tutor participants in Europe and China. The tutors faced the same task as the students to work together.

I also looked at the videos and you do notice a tendency towards a single perspective and a hint of others 'lacking' something. One of the challenges in inter-cultural learning on any environment is to build mutual understanding of the task and the process. This is rather than to make 'them like us' or 'us like them.' This takes time, a different and more open disposition and dialogue and different techniques.

I'll stop there before I run off on all kinds of tangents.

cheers,

Nick
Faculty of Education
University of Glasgow
Scotland

http://www.sharedthinking.info
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Asif Devji -
Just had a look at the first two videos and thought they were very well-put-together in terms of educational content -- I certainly learned some useful strategies.

I also thought they achieved the difficult task of treating respectfully (i)the subject, (ii)the diverse (cultural) approaches to learning and (iii)their intended audience of educators. Although the 'domestic' students came off looking less than superlative, this (exaggeration) is understandable considering the objective of the videos is to represent learning from a 'non-domestic' perspective.

As a language instructor, intercultural theories of Power Distance, Particularism or Universalism, and Individualism or Collectivism are certainly applicable to my world.

I would add that the concepts and strategies presented could equally be applied to 'cultural diversity' in terms of differing organizational cultures -- ie. working with heterogeneous (though 'domestic') groups of students coming in from different working environments.

Thanks,
Asif
In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Nicholas Bowskill -
Hi Asif,
Good points. I think it comes down to viewing diversity as a resource rather than a challenge for learning doesn't it?

cheers,
Nick

Faculty of Education
University of Glasgow
Scotland

http://www.sharedthinking.info
In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Asif Devji -
Hi Nick,

Thanks for your response -- diversity as a resource -- this is no longer perception but reality.

As we move (in particular online) to the new world of multi-perspective mashup-based knowledge, the old-school method of 'one acceptable perspective, one right answer, one perfect score' is dying (albeit kicking and screaming).

I thought the 'alternative approaches' applied by the instructor in the second video (Team Collaboration) did a brilliant job of sensitizing the learners to this fact and then moving on to allow them to apply it in practice -- thereby preparing the learners for their expected roles in the new working world.

In the process of going through the activities, the (domestic and non-domestic) learners will have to find their own balances in terms of 'relationship management' and team collaboration in this new context.

Asif

In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Kyra Garson -
We are excited to see this conversation thread: Diversity as a resource. It is also valuable to explore the challenges presented by diversity in order to view it as a positive resource. In some of the film scenarios the instructors are attempting to draw out the diversity in respectful ways so that everyone's understanding of others' experiences and ways of knowing are enhanced. It is particularly important for us to include the students' voices.

Emma & Kyra
In reply to Kyra Garson

An Approach to Diversity as a resource

by Nicholas Bowskill -

Kyra Garson wrote,

 




I wonder if it would help to offer my particular approach to leveraging this diversity in order for it to function as a resource?

In classes of anything up to 350 students (i know this isn't online yet but I'll come to that later)I use a snowball group discussion technique. It starts with individuals and develops into a whole class level. To this is added the use of voting technology (clickers, PRS, EVS etc).

I ask the student to write down their idea or concern before sharing it in small groups. Each group discusses it and comes up with an agreed idea to be posted on the screen/software.

Each individual then votes and the results are shown in a pie-chart set in relation to each other.

The pie chart is generated from the student dialogue offering the multiple perspectives in the room. It displays the collective view on an issue with qualitative and quantitative data.

This is a unique measure of student experience in which the diversity creates and is displayed within the pie-chart. This then becomes a resource for dialogue and individual thinking. It can also be shared online for others and there's a whole host of stuff can be done by grouping them etc.

I've given my creation the term Shared Thinking and if anyone would like to know more the web site is at http://www.sharedthinking.info

I've used it for induction that brings together international and regional students and in the research that continues it shows cognitive and situative development as well as creating new research possibilities.

End of this advertisement! :) but i hope you can see how it relates to developing community consciousness around the diversity that in turn serves to create a resource on both the issue and on the community.

I'll do you a free webinar if you like! :)

Cheers,
Nick

Faculty of Education
University of Glasgow
Scotland

http://www.sharedthinking.info


























In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by bronwyn hegarty -
You make a great point Asif. The heterogeneous mix of students you mention from different work contexts is an issue for me when teaching a Flexible learning course to vocational teachers and educators. Trying to convince them that universal design is important to assist equitable access for their learners can be tricky when they can see only one way to teach practical skills.

In New Zealand as in other countries, indigenous learners have specific learning needs. I would like to hear about others' experiences in this area.
In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Nicholas Bowskill -
Bronwyn, Could you say a bit more about what a universal design is? As a first impression, it sounded to me as the last thing you would want if you wish to accommodate difference.

My universal design would be one that seeks to create a hybrid culture of situated collaboration. It wouldn't seek to privilege any culture over another but rather to create a new culture of respect for all involved in the activity and the goal of mutual understanding. So what does your universal design mean?

I also think that we need to be aware of differences in pedagogical heritage when we talk about direct questioning because there are cultures I've worked with where the idea of peer-groups and self-directed learning would create huge tensions when the cultural expectation is one of being 'taught.' Such ideas need careful introduction and contextualising not to mention facilitation.

Nick
In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by E.A. Draffan -
Thank you very much Nick for making me think a bit more about the subject by asking for a definition as I tend to work from the disability and learning point of view. Caroline Davies and I had a stab at it when working on a project about Inclusive teaching at the Open University. However, I know Trace also took a wider approach, but no mention of 'diversity' in terms of our new Equality Act 2010, that includes sexual orientation and religious belief as well as race, disability and gender.

In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I think my understanding of Universal design would be related to the point that EA makes - it grew, as far as web design goes, from Accessible design, but where "accessibility" focussed on ensuring those with disabilities could use the site, Universal design is aimed to ensure that everyone can use the site - so, that's where cultural awareness would come in - and it's also used for things other than just websites.

Re: Nick's point about students expecting to be 'taught' - I'm increasingly seeing that in English (not sure about the rest of the UK) students -those who've come up through the testing at 7/11/14/16/17/18 regime - wanting to know what they have to do to 'pass'. In some cases, it's the English students who expect 'teaching' even more than some of the international ones.
In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Asif Devji -
Hi Bronwyn,

In terms of expanding notions of 'cultural diversity' to include differing organizational cultures -- one of the projects I'm currently working on is a community of practice bringing together employees in a single transnational organization working (i)from 'headquarters' (in the U.S.) and (ii)from 'the regions' -- seven 'developing' countries (can we say that these terms are now starting to become outdated?).

While language and professional norms are common across the board -- they are all practitioners in the same field working on the same project -- the geographical and local organizational disparity (and hierarchies) tend to breed mistrust which severely inhibit collaboration.

One of my challenges is finding facilitation styles and online activities that can:

- open up these otherwise undiscussable issues (political correctness and all that) for discussion
- sensitize the members to the common value of sharing (which includes asking for help) over hoarding
- develop a sense of trust in the information being contributed by all

This is a huge challenge, as I'm swimming against the stream of each of their local organizational cultures -- which I can only influence indirectly via my work with the members themselves.

I can certainly see myself tweaking some of the group-work strategies presented in the videos and testing them out in this context.

I also think that the dynamic I've presented above exists in one form or another in most organizations with central vs. satellite locations -- with little or no 'diversity' existing among members other than the diversity of local organizational (as opposed to ethnic) cultures.

Asif
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by John Morrison -
Just listened to the student interviews and it struck me that the challenges faced by students were not so much cultural as language problems, chiefly understanding what is being said by the instructor.
In reply to John Morrison

Re: culturally diverse students

by bronwyn hegarty -
I have just watched the first video: The Wave - Managing student questions and evaluating comprehension during class. The intent is to highlight difficulties for international students when interacting in a lecture situation. However the strategies that are suggested would be very useful for any student.

The video also highlights the importance of using inclusive questioning. The strategies would help students to engage in the subject matter, interact with peers and retain their anonymity if they so wish. The direct questioning that some lecturer's might favor can be very inappropriate when students are not used to this or feel embarrassed when put on the spot.

I think it is important to look at some of the factors relating to cultural diversity: ethnicity, religious beliefs, socio-economic status, location, professional role, belief systems and gender. All these factors influence the way in which people behave and live. This is because they develop particular perspectives and values depending on the group or community in which they reside.
This is taken from a topic I am teaching on cultural diversity at present - see: Flexible Learning Guidebook

Do you have examples of situations where diversity inhibited access to learning?
In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: culturally diverse students

by Nicholas Bowskill -

bronwyn hegarty wrote,

I think it is important to look at some of the factors relating to cultural diversity: ethnicity, religious beliefs, socio-economic status, location, professional role, belief systems and gender. All these factors influence the way in which people behave and live. This is because they develop particular perspectives and values depending on the group or community in which they reside.

 





I think there's something in this that can point to one of possibly many other solutions. For me the trick would be to show the diversity within the learning group and make it shareable and public to the group. Specifically I would suggest a group-situated approach to avoid stereotyping and to help generate a view of the social diversity on a given issue.

If you gather all the views on an issue in a student-generated dialogue and bring them together then the students express themselves as they wish to be seen regardless of gender, race, etc etc. Through that you can develop a collective identity for the task group.

In this way you would look at all the factors raised above and create a hybrid and inter-cultural course community.

I think the main problem many students have is very little sense of their community perspective (their sub-community and the wider community perspective) on a given course topic consequently they remain diverse individuals each different and apart.

Accessibility and inclusiveness as an approach is never-ending and could be a bank-breaker because it caters only to difference not togetherness. I think they are still very worthwhile and universal designs etc are still worth doing but I don't feel myself that they'll ever achieve their goal of total/universal inclusivity - how could they accommodate a universe of difference? A policy of togetherness might.

I'm rambling a bit so I'd better stop.

cheers,
Nick








In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: creating community with students

by bronwyn hegarty -
Nick
You have hit on a very important issue. For me, likewise, it is important to help students develop a sense of belonging to a community while they are learning. As you say if everyone feels comfortable and has trust in their fellow class mates they will be more able to express their views. This is very difficult to do. Supporting togetherness is definitely a more positive approach to addressing diversity than ranting on about diversity. In a way using strategies for togetherness does address the diversity issue by making it a non-issue - in some ways it ignores it by making it part of everything. (Like elearning.) thoughtful

Boy this is becoming an exercise in philosophical argument.

But presently it does seem to be more PC to acknowledge diversity.

I agree accessibility and inclusiveness as an approach does highlight difference and so does Universal Design which I have mentioned previously. It is just one perception of how to acknowledge cultural diversity. But how can you do this if you do not make it transparent? Universal Design caters to diversity by creating learning spaces which enable access to anyone with a physical, psychological or learning disability. In that way we are seen to be inclusive as opposed to excluding a segment of the population.

I guess the argument is how to foster strategies for togetherness by making people more aware that difference is in fact normal. And by being sensitive and empathetic human beings we can provide effective and enjoyable learning experiences. I reckon we all need help with some tools to support this. Bron
In reply to bronwyn hegarty

Re: creating community with students

by Nicholas Bowskill -
Hi Bron,
For me the key point is to collaboratively create a representation of the diversity. That becomes a resource and a vehicle for individual thinking and discussion in the group.

One of the hardest things to do practically is to obtain a view of collective thinking in a community. Without such a view we develop our selves against what we imagine is the right way or we depend on others to tell us the *general* way of doing things or the *general* community view.

For me Universal Design seems like a set of principles to adopt rather than a guarantee of support for difference. It seems to me that it lumps all those with a physical disability together and says this is how we will support your difference. It ignores the differences amongst those within physical disability.

With Shared Thinking (and work elsewhere on Mathematics and networked classrooms with Walter Stroup and others) the goal is to generate a view of diversity by supporting the individual voice and synthesising it to display the community experience/view/context at a given moment in time. Diversity does not become a non-issue. Instead, it becomes the rationale, the engine, the driver or the motivation for further dialogue and development. It is actually THE issue.


I take your broad point Bron. I'm just diversifying it slightly. ;)


cheers,
Nick
In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: creating community with students

by Asif Devji -
Hi Nick,

A question (which I'm sure you've heard before but which I think is playing itself out in complex ways socially): If all individual voices are heard, and if there are contradictions among those voices, what's to stop it becoming a cacophony in which nothing is agreed on?

I really like the notion of Universal Design that all of you are fleshing out here -- I feel it intuitively but the concept - as a concept - as you are presenting it here is new to me (as is a lot of the theory in the videos themselves)...and I love it!

I'd like to second the motion that you run an experiential webinar on this -- please sign me up as a participant.

Thanks,
Asif
In reply to Asif Devji

Re: creating community with students

by Nicholas Bowskill -
Hi Asif,
Good question. In fact there is no goal to achieve agreement unless we might think about agreement on the overall landscape of the community and agreement of the extent to which the representation of diversity is indeed representative.

The greater the diversity the richer the end-product which aims to show multiple perspectives on the issue as seen by the community/class (group-situated).

As the process goes along individuals talk, listen and see different ideas that support their own thinking. At the end each individual can vote on the ideas they have generated (student-generated questions) to produce this portrait of diversity in context. Then we have a measure of collective thinking and a firm basis for further development.

I should just add that this is a face to face activity using networked classroom technology. The electronic product can be shared and discussed online but generating it online is more problematic.


Best wishes,
Nick








In reply to Asif Devji

shared thinking

by Sylvia Currie -
Nick, thanks so much for offering your approach to leveraging this diversity And sign me up for a webinar as well! In fact, would you like to schedule a webinar next week as part of this seminar? We could also schedule a seminar / webinar more focused on your work. I've been peeking in on your Shared Thinking research over the past few months. Fascinating!
In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: shared thinking

by Nicholas Bowskill -
Hi Sylvia,
How are you today? I hope you're well and thank you for a very kind offer and kind words about my research. It's always nice to hear what people think and how it comes across to other people.

I'd love to do a webinar or even 2. My only problem is next week when I'm doing a tour of Scotland for a couple of presentations. I'm away from Monday until Thursday night. So if it wasn't too late I could manage Friday afternoon/evening GMT next week?

It'd be a wonderful opportunity to do a webinar on Shared Thinking sometime too. Thanks for that. Scheduling is tricky again. I'm away in Denmark 1st week in May then in Malaysia in 3rd week of May. So it would have to be last week of May or June is clear just now. Are they any good for you?

Whatever the outcome, thank you for the invitation and interest. I am grateful to you.

One other point that comes out of this. It occurs to me that time zones are an inter-cultural issue in online learning aren't they? :)


cheers,
Nick
In reply to Nicholas Bowskill

Re: shared thinking

by Sylvia Currie -
Nick, I'll get in touch with you about scheduling a Shared Thinking event. Let's plan to do that when you're not working around such a busy travel schedule. I've been thinking about you this past week and hoping you're not sitting in airports waiting for the ash to settle!
In reply to John Morrison

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Asif Devji -
Hi John,

I think that this is a hugely important point -- learners' a priori difficulties with the language of communication itself -- so what's the answer?

Are we expecting all our profs to become ESL teaching experts too mixed

Asif

In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers -
Hi John and Asif and others,
I think the issue is about skills to give people the prerequisites, shape behaviours that are open and welcoming to diverse cultures, and that instructors learn from videos like the 4 shared here.

I think that many videos are needed to address the wide variety of contexts that the students (all of them) face in order to interconnect through more effective and mutually satisfying the exchanges.

About all instructors becoming ESL teachers -- well -- in a way -- yes -- there could be growth and potential as people learn the skills mentioned in these videos and future other videos.

I am grateful for the inspiration and the organization of these videos. They are thoughtful and problem/solution oriented. I also find the comments from the Scope participants thought stimulating -- as I attempt to look at how these ideas impact my lived-world in the midst of much cultural diversity. I know that even within my own Canadian culture, I have experienced what it is like to be think I'm a fish out of water, walking on new ground. Sometimes I've been lucky to find people who's approaches can shape and shift with the situation and people. I think it does us all good to travel or to experience getting out of our cultural familiarity. Though I think people need to learn how to seek out ways to be more secure and successful, I think mentors and peer supports, or counsellors also make that challenging passage an easier journey.
Jo Ann
In reply to Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Asif Devji -

Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers wrote,

About all instructors becoming ESL teachers -- well -- in a way -- yes -- there could be growth and potential as people learn the skills mentioned in these videos and future other videos.

Hi Jo Ann,

Agreed -- expanding skill sets (or is it just communication styles?) to better teach and learn to and from one another.

Asif

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Welcome to our April seminar!

by Emma Duke-Williams -
I very much enjoyed the session last night, thanks to Emma & Kyra.

I started watching the videos - but found they broke up rather, so thought I'd try downloading them instead - however, it keeps hanging. Do you know if there's a temporary problem with the server (12:30 pm UK time), or is it more likely to be that work is objecting to the port (8001) that they're on?

I'll try at home this evening to download them.

Emma
In reply to Emma Duke-Williams

Downloading videos

by Sylvia Currie -
Emma, if you download the videos I recommend doing that from the BCcampus Shareable Online Learning Resources site: http://tinyurl.com/y55d7mq
You'll get the first 4 videos in this list in a zip file.
Is that what you were doing when you ran into problems? The videos are posted for viewing at blip.tv but available for download from a different server, so not sure about ports and all that!

In reply to Sylvia Currie

Re: Downloading videos

by Emma Duke-Williams -
That's the one I was trying that had the 8001 port; I'll try when I get home.

By the way, I sent you two emails from my work a/c yesterday - one was 'undeliverable' - but I couldn't tell which one - or even if it was sending the one message to cover them both. It was a reply to the message you sent following the previous seminar.

Emma