Grant, May 6, 2014 at 5:21 pm: I have decided to take the concrete example of an activity that I have been using quite successfully for some time in order for students to become familiar with one of the common theoretical models of cultural dimensions. It is a group activity in which, after I have given a short presentation of the background to the model, the students familiarize themselves with the different dimensions of the model so that they are able to recognize instances of them in their own and other cultures. They do this by reconstructing the theoretical model based on some short documents that I provide them with.
Often the students decide themselves to first work on the task individually (I’m happy for them to do that) and then they get together to compare their ideas and try and come up with a group response. The students are asked to identify where they would place themselves in relation to the dimensions of the model, where they would place their home culture and where they would place France (or whatever country they find themselves in).
We debrief the activity as a group and then I finish off by showing them examples I have chosen of the different dimensions from different countries.
Placing the activity on the grid, I would say that it comes on the directed side and that it moves from individual to social.
If I wanted to move this to a more autonomous orientation, I could ask the students to research the model themselves using internet. They could then organize themselves into groups and collaborate on creating a presentation using different media that would allow each group to show their individual relationship to the dimensions, indicate where their country of origin is in relationship to them and where they see their host country in terms of the dimensions.
I honestly don’t know whether this would constitute an improvement or an “enhancement” to the activity. It could be done with laptops/tablets and an internet connection and a classroom equipped with a beamer. It could be done in class time (as now) or be given as a homework task.
The nature of my course is fairly interactive and students have the chance to express opinions and instincts throughout. They often work on small group activities that can involve producing short presentations, posters and sometimes sketches or short videos.
The evaluation is part individual and part group. Sometimes there is a mark given for participation, it depends.
Philtubman, May 6, 2014 at 9:30 pm: Hi grant, thanks for the post. It sounds like you incorporate many of the dimensions and quadrants in this task. I particularly like the small group digital media activity. Perhaps bringing the outside world in using Twitter may serve you well as an extension to the task… Out of interest, can you give more detail on the task – it’s level etc.
Grant, May 7, 2014 at 6:48 am: Hi, I don’t actually use the “technology enhanced” version of the activity at the moment. I am a fan of Kolb’s learning (and teaching) styles model and try to incorporate it into my lesson plans. I’ve been thinking a lot obout Twitter recently as I have been trying to use ocTEL to get to grips with it. I’ve been amazed at the amount of information that has been exchanegd and the % of interactions on this course that have been conducted via Twitter. I am based in France and I have a suspicion that, at least in academia and among students, Twitter is not a very commonly used means of communication. I’ll have to try and find out.
I am not personally comfortable enough yet with Twitter to envisage using it in a teaching situation “to bring the outside world in”. I can, though, see some interesting things that could happen by doing this as the person who conceived the model and his institute are on Twitter (I’ve just started to follow them!). However, even if I become more proficient with Twitter, I’d probably have to spend time getting the students to create accounts and explaining how Twitter works to them – which would take up time I don’t have.
With regards the task, it can be used at different levels and I currently use it at L-1, L-2 and M-1 (I don’t know if that makes sense outside of France so basically, first and second year bachelors and first year master’s). The students are mainly on business courses (bachelors) or engineering courses (masters).
The model consists of 6 dimensions of which we look at 4. I give the students a short written definition of each dimension to be looked at. I also give them a short list of characteristics of these dimensions. Finally, they have the tables which present all the characteristics of the dimensions and from which I have removed certain characteristics (which are in their short lists). The activity consists in becoming familiar with the dimensions via the definitions and then completing the tables of characteristics with those that are on the short list. Students then reflect and exchange about how they relate personally to the dimensions, where they see their home country in relation to these (many of my students are international ie. non-French) and where they see their host country.
I hope you can make some sense of this. It’s obviously perfectly clear to me
mchaudry, May 7, 2014 at 9:34 am: hi, many of the social media channels are blocked by academic institutions. some VLE have their own chat plugins built in, for example moodle has the chat plugin which is very similar to twitter. i have used it in the past. like all technologies this depends on the type of students that you have as some can be reluctant in posting in the chat areas.
Grant, May 9, 2014 at 8:06 am: Most of my students – they range from 1st year bachelor’s to 2nd year master’s – seem to stuck with Facebook (closed FB groups for their group work), Skype and a small number on Google docs. They also use the VLE basically to pick up documents and occassionally drop off documents. I think this is very much because of the way higher education is set up in France to be very teacher-centred and I’m really wondering whether it’s going to be possible to introduce other tecbnologies without a wholesale paradigm shift – which will take some time to bring about.