20 SES 12, Global Competence, Multicultural Education and Teachers' Role
This paper aims to explore teachers ‘intercultural competences that is possible to develop thank the participation on an international learning communities. Intercultural competence is here considered the ability to develop targeted knowledge, skills and attitudes that lead to visible behaviour and communication that are both effective and appropriate in intercultural interactions (Deardorff, 2006; Hofstede, 2001; Unesco, 2013). Intercultural competences build upon intercultural understanding (Perry & Southwell, 2011), which may be defined as an ability to value cultural differences (Sorrels, 2015). A lack of intercultural understanding may be a source of clashes and conflicts in intercultural encounters (Hill, 2006; Sorrels, 2015).
In this paper, we consider that the development of a complex professionalism such as that of the teacher educators can take advantage of an international training. For this, the paper goes in the direction to explore the potential for international learning communities to develop intercultural understanding. The paper focuses on teachers’ professional development. In a hyper-connected world, initial and continuous teacher education proposed by higher institutions still remains generally limited to national borders. A more international teacher exchange can be strategic to tackle common issues in a wider and more complex vision of the teacher professionalism. Moreover, according to Snoek et al. (2011), intensive international exchange of learning by teachers will contribute to their professionalism. For this, it is important that teachers are exposed to innovative training, with an international and intercultural perspective too.
Particularly interesting to build an international learning communities is through the Blended learning (BL) modality (Bonk & Graham, 2006). BL is understood as the optimal combination of learning and online presence, enhancing the potential benefits of both approaches (Graham, Allen, & Ure, 2003). It is considered one of the wider used instructional approaches proposed by higher education for initial and continuing training (Carlsen, Holmberg, Neghina, & Owusu-Boampong, 2016). Despite the wide adoption of BL in higher education, few are blended learning courses in international settings or addressing international issues (Drysdale, Graham, Spring, & Halverson, 2013; Halverson et al., 2012). In their review about BL in worldwide Spring & Graham (2017) conclude evidencing in educational literature a lack of connection between countries and regions.
International learning communities between regions and countries supported by technology could contribute to improve quality of teachers and teacher education. Indeed, the complexity of social, scientific or natural actual issues needs an international discussion between international communities, which have to be well supported by technology. Also, blended education in intercultural and international collaboration with specific attention to the diversity of the cultures and group is still scarce, especially in teacher professional developing training.
The aim of this paper is to explore the intercultural competences developed by teacher educators through the participation to the international blended learning communities. Research question is: how the participation to an international blended learning community shapes the teacher educators professional developing in general and intercultural competences in particular? The context of the study is an international BL project. The project “Blended Learning Training for Teachers educators” (in the following indicated with the acronym “BLTeae”) – for more info http://blteae.eu/ - is supported by the European Capacity Building Programme. This European program has the aim to foster and increase trans-national cooperation projects between higher education institutions, addressing challenges and cross-cultural awareness. The project BLTeae is oriented to involve European countries (France, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia) and Asian countries (Malaysia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Pakistan) in a collaborative community capable to reflect on teaching trainers’ practices. It responds to the common European and Asiatic issue to improve and revise teacher training programmes. Indeed, improving the quality of teacher teaching effectiveness is one important school-related factors in student achievement in different regions (OECD, 2014). The project BLTeae is articulated in three years, with some main activities: 1) In the first year, an initial questionnaire is conceived and submitted to all the community to know the need and skills of teacher educators. In the same time, all the institutions are involved in co-developing content for a training course organised with 20 online modular courses and two face-to-face training (one in Bangladesh and the second in Pakistan); 2) In the second year, all the members are involved in video sharing about teaching practices (related with the modules) and online community discussion on the teachers’ practices; 3) In the third year, the main activity is the sharing of best practices about teacher educators' practices to build a common reference curriculum for teachers’ educators. Considering this context, data are collected about intercultural competences of the teacher-educators involved. Some explorative interviews were conducted during a face to face training in Pakistan to local teacher educators involved in the project and complementary interview also by French teacher educators. These firsts interviews aimed intercultural perceptions about the conception, development and implementation of formative content proposed by the online trainings and shared discussions in the international learning communities. Then, a survey is submitted to teachers involved in the projects to analysis the difficulties to work collaboratively, tensions and challenges. The data are qualitative analysed.
The paper explores the potential and the challenge of global collaboration and cooperative in international blended learning (Spring & Graham, 2017). Some of the indicators considered in the study are: multidimensionality, relationality and contextuality. The pedagogical and communication processes are key point in the influence the intercultural perspective (Stephan & Stephan, 2013). The development of intercultural skills in a context of international training have to take in consideration critical ethnocentrism; to assume a perspective of cognitive, affective and existential decentralization; be aware of own role as intercultural mediators and learn to mediate; to exercise intercultural competence, such as empathy, flexibility, patience, interest, curiosity, openness, active listening, cultural sensitivity, knowledge of other cultures, understood as competence in situation (Catarci, & Fiorucci, 2015). The study gives also suggestion about the design of blended learning environment. Sustainable and effective intercultural interactions require the creation of a new collaborative activity among the participating engaged in the interaction (Weber, 2003). The BL based on international collaborative learning can be particularly useful with a scenario that includes social interaction; open and complex issues requiring investigation and active engagement; shared knowledge objects and collective efforts to advance knowledge. In conclusion, if well designed and supported by reflective activities, BL could be a space within to develop professional competence and transversal skills. These skills are central considering that future learners have to deal with complex, ill-defined working contexts in their personal and professional lives (Brooks & Everett, 2009; Lakkala, Toom, Ilomäki, & Muukkkonen, 2015). Thus, the design of a BL course could help to support a new generation of international teachers, more connected beyond national borders.
Brooks, R., & Everett, G. (2009). Post-graduation reflections on the value of a degree. British Educational Research Journal, 35(3), 333–349. Bonk, C. J. & Graham, C. R. (Eds.). (2006). Handbook of blended learning: Global Perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer Publishing. Carlsen, A., Holmberg, C., Neghina, C., & Owusu-Boampong, A. (2016). Closing the gap: Opportunities for distance education to benefit adult learners in higher education.Hamburg, Germany: Unesco Institute for Lifelong Learning. Catarci, M., & Fiorucci, M. (Eds.). (2015). Intercultural education in the European context: Theories, experiences, challenges. Ashgate Publishing. Deardorff, D. K. (2006). The Identification and Assessment of Intercultural Competence as a Student Outcome of Internationalization at Institutions of Higher Education in the United States. Journal of Studies in International Education 10, 241-266. Drysdale, J. S., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., & Halverson, L. R. (2013). Analysis of research trends in dissertations and theses studying blended learning. Internet and Higher Education, 17(1), 90–100. Graham, C. R., Allen, S., and Ure, D. (2003). Blended Learning Environments: A Review of the Research Literature. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. London: Sage. Hill, I. (2006). Student types, school types and their combined influence on the development of intercultural understanding. Journal of Research in International Education 5(1) 5–33. Lakkala, M., Toom, A., Ilomäki, L., Muukkkonen, H. (2015). Re-designing university courses to support collaborative knowledge creation practices. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 31(5). Perry, L. B., & Southwell, L. (2011). Developing intercultural understanding and skills: Models and approaches. Intercultural Education, 22(6), 453-466. Snoek, M., Swennen, A., and van der Klink, M., 2011. The quality of teacher educators in the European policy debate: actions and measures to improve the professionalism of teacher educators. Professional development in education, 37(5), 651–664. Sorrells, K. (2015). Intercultural communication: Globalization and social justice. Sage publications. Spring, K., & Graham, C. (2017). Blended learning citation patterns and publication networks across seven worldwide regions. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 33(2). Stephan, W. G., & Stephan, C. W. (2013). Designing intercultural education and training programs: An evidence-based approach. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 37(3), 277-286. UNESCO (2013). Intercultural Competences. Paris. Weber, S. (2003). A framework for teaching and learning ‘intercultural competence’. Intercultural experience and education, 196-212.
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