International Online Collaboration: Models and Methods
Concurrent Session 2
Session facilitators and participants will jointly explore models, benefits and challenges, effective practices, and methods of evaluation that support online international collaboration. Audience participation will be encouraged throughout the presentation and session attendees will be invited to participate in future international collaborations with the session facilitators.
- Be able to describe current models, and best practices, in inter-campus online collaboration
- Be able to discuss perspectives and current practices in international online collaboration
- Be able to set up learning objectives for inter-campus and international online collaboration
- Be able to facilitate international online collaboration at the class and/or program level, taking into consideration the potential benefits as well as drawbacks of such projects
- Have the experience in group collaboration during the session
- Be able to join Karen and Peter in a project aimed at longitudinal evaluation of learning outcomes in international and multicultural online exchanges
Introduction: Taking Anywhere Seriously
We present models of inter-campus collaboration, primarily at the level of classes, or groups of classes (short of degrees), which are already used in international cooperation online or could be useful for that purpose. We present the main benefits of international online cooperation as well as its major ramifications. Our objective is to immerse session participants in planning and problem solving, design and realization of an inter-campus, even international, exchange online.
Models of International Cooperation Online
The following models of international cooperation online have been developed in practice and described in publications:
- Class for class exchanges
Problem: Dean perceives the need for international perspectives but no budget for international travel.
Solution: Two complementary online classes: one on each campus. Each class has 50% of students from each institution. Each professor is the instructor of record of students from her/his campus but teaches students from both campuses in his/her group, except for the housekeeping issues that may be different on different campuses (Boltuc UIS/Poland business and society)
- Merry-go-round multi-institutional model
Problem: In each institution some experts in narrow fields advanced classes do not enroll well.
Solution: Five different economic universities identified such under-enrolling classes. All classes were developed on one e-learning platform. Students from each institution gained 5 spots in the 4 classes from other campuses (enrollment at the home campus of every professor depend on the policies on that campus). Hence, students from any campus can choose from one of the five specialized classes. Each professor is grading all students in the class they teach, but is the instructor of record of all the students of her/his campus; hence, has strong enrollment. (Dabrowski, five economic universities in Poland).
- Limited engagement models
- Students from two institutions discuss work on joint assignments (Morsch UIS/Canada, organic chemistry)
- Students conduct class projects using the same methodology and then compare and contrast the findings online (Lemke UIS/Brazil, environmental biology)
- Lectures by the experts from other institutions given online to an existing class. The instructor and students join an online class at another institution to engage in discussion of a selected topics (Boltuc UIS/Sweden, Italy, artificial intelligence; Swan-Vaughan, UIS/Mount Royal University, Canada, blended learning)
- Uneven exchange model
- Lead institution and beneficiary institution/s. (Boltuc, economic education e-learning courses provided by Polish universities to Russian Siberia, EU grant)
- Unoccupied spaces in online classes provided to members of oppressed groups free of charge (Dabrowski/Boltuc SGH/Ukraine, Iran, Bangladesh)
Considerations and Limitations of International Cooperation Online
- Different countries have different academic semesters (US Aug.–Dec.20, Europe Oct.05–Feb.)
- US classes 3-4 credits, EU 1-2.
Solutions to those two points:
- Offer a 2 credit class for second half of the semester (mid-Oct-Dec), with a paper for foreign students through January.
- In a 3 credit class international partners may come half-semester -- make the separate two parts self-contained.
- Differences in grading:
- Participation grading may not be allowed. Usually you can grade ‘colloquia’ and discussions can work as ‘colloquia’.
- A different grade distribution may be expected e.g. A is only for exceptionally talented students..
- Cultural differences:
- Many countries have the standards of male-female interactions similar to those in the US in 1970s.
- Students not accustomed to presenting their opinions and wait for instructors to give the right answer
- Students may collaborate to the point that online exams are never taken by the student – fair proctoring may also be rare
- Students may use the right English but convey a different meaning than intended.
Solutions to those two points:
- Support the development of a distinct, shared idioculture in the online environment (Gunawardena, 2017)
- Support the development of social presence across cultures by designing formats for interaction, orienting students to online communication and creating an inclusive learning community (Gunawardena, 2017)
Benefits of International Cooperation Online
There are three major categories of benefits from international online collaboration. The first has to do with enrollments and being able to offer particular courses. As noted previously, it is often the case that special topics, especially advanced ones, cannot be offered because there are not enough students to fill a class. When offered internationally, it is possible to fill such classes with students who are interested in and qualified to take them.
A second category of benefit has to do with enhancing content in existing courses, specifically, by interacting with international experts. It is relatively easy to bring international experts, including graduate students, into an online class to discuss their specialties with students to the benefit of not only the students but the experts.
Finally, the most obvious benefit of international online collaboration lies in cultural exchange and enhancing students’ appreciation of multiple perspectives on topics and issues. International collaboration is an obvious way to expose to other cultures (Bonk, Hara, Dennen, Malikowski, & Supplee, 2000), but the global networking of students through online collaboration has the potential to enhance student perspective-taking on a variety of issues (Bonk, Appleman & Hay, 1996; Harasim, Hiltz, Teles, & Turoff, 1995), simply because the students involved will almost certainly have qualitatively and quantitatively more different perspectives on most issues than students from a single country.
Assessment and Evaluation of International Cooperation Online
Assessment and evaluation are interrelated. Generally; assessment is focused on the performance of an individual student, or in the case of collaboration, groups of students, while evaluation is focused on the performance of a class or a program. The critical part of both assessment and evaluation, however, is that it should be designed to explore whether or not goals and objectives have been met. That is, objectives for students might include both learning outcomes and appreciation for other perspectives or cultures as well as collaboration itself. At the very least, both interdependence (group score) and individual accountability (individual score) should be assessed (Swan, Shen, & Hiltz, 2006). Evaluation of the success of the collaboration should include both whether or not students learned the desired content and whether their appreciation of multiple perspectives and other cultures has improved.
Innovative Methods used During the Session
Audience participation will be encouraged throughout the presentation including planning for future international collaborations among participants and session facilitators.
Boltuc, P. (2012). Global E-Learning. Global E-Cooperation. In A. Landeta Etxeberria, Global e-Learning, University of Distance Learning, Madrid, 257-67.
Boltuc, P. (2008) Global Learning Through Collaboration. Formamente, Rivista Internationale di Ricerca sul Futuro Digitale GUIDE Association, Rome, Italy, III 1-2, 145 – 54.
Bonk, C. J., Appelman, R., & Hay, K. E. (1996). Electronic conferencing tools for student apprenticeship and perspective taking. Educational Technology, 36(5), 8–18.
Bonk, C. J., Hara, N., Dennen, V., Malikowski, S., & Supplee, L. (2000). We're in TITLE to dream: Envisioning a community of practice: The intraplanetary teacher learning exchange. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 3(1), 25–39. (Special Issue on Education & the World Wide Web).
Gunawardena, C. N. (2017). Cultural perspectives on social presence: Research and practical guidelines for online design. In A. L. Whiteside, A. Garrett Dikkers, & K. Swan, K., Social Presence in Online Learning: Multiple Perspectives on Practice and Research. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, 113-129.
Harasim, L., Hiltz, S. R., Teles, L., & Turoff, M. (1995). Learning networks: A field guide to teaching and learning online. Cambridge , MA : The MIT Press.
Swan, K., Shen, J. & Hiltz, R. (2006). Assessment and collaboration in online learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 10 (1), 45-62.