Breaking out of the box

This project aims to develop and pilot a non-traditional / decolonized International Study Abroad and Intercultural Exchange Learning Toolkit that can be used in developing intercultural collaboration, specifically targeting underrepresented students in study abroad and digital intercultural learning environments, in ways that, “free[…] people from their own logic and cultural idioms in order to engage with others […] which may involve belonging to one or more cultural systems, particularly if they are not valued or recognized in a given socio-political context.”*

*Leeds-Hurwitz, W. (2013). Conceptual and operational framework on intercultural competencies

Project Dates: December 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021
Funding Amount: 25,000
Students Hired: 1 student

Project overview

The purpose of this initiative is to offer opportunities for students to develop cultural reflexive practices, “pre-during-and post” an outward mobility experience through contribution to, and participation and collaboration in, accessible online education and opportunities to take part in a virtual exchange experience. Virtual Exchange has been shown to promote student interest in outward mobility programming and increase students,’ curiosity and empathy toward diverse others.

The Toolkit would include:

  1. Interactive learning/education options for developing culturally reflexive practices for preparing students for:
    • Pre / during / post departure - for field schools / exchanges (e.g., proposed CNC-led Consortium: Global Mobility Peer Support Project; Proposed NIC: Canada’s West Coast Fishery: Indigeneity and Japanese Trans-pacific Migration)
    • Interacting with students from other countries / cultures in readiness for taking part in Virtual Exchanges
    • Professional networking / employment
  2. Online synchronous and asynchronous options to ensure optimal accessibility for students unable to attend a synchronous class (either face-to-face or online) due to work/caregiving commitments/limited bandwidth/internet connection – acknowledging the specific barriers faced by under-represented students.
  3. Resources built around the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to ensure maximum accessibility and that include local and global perspectives.
  4. Student feedback will be sought to create content and design activities for a step-by-step guide that collaboratively walks students through different aspects of cultural self-reflection and awareness, with learning that leads to a micro-credential that can be used when seeking future employment / study opportunities. The Toolkit would be based on the goals of deep learning (Fullan & Langworthy, 2014,2 whereby the focus is developing students’ creativity, interest in collaboration and learning, “to be healthy, holistic human beings” (p. 2). The Toolkit will include the use of Story Circles.3 Story telling is used in many cultures and is a way of helping individuals connect and build empathy.
  5. Opportunities to engage with diverse others through activities organized with local organizations (e.g., the Immigrant Welcome Centre) and through creating Virtual Exchanges4 (also known as Global Classrooms) - opportunities with post-secondary institutions across Canada and overseas, with whom NIC has partnership agreements (e.g., the College of New Caledonia, Aurora College, UCLL in Belgium, SRH Heidelberg University in Germany and KCC in Hawaii USA (Indigenous)). Virtual Exchange {VE), “involves engaging learners in sustained online international collaboration and communication with online peers.”4
  6. Education designed specifically for faculty to develop their intercultural competence in teaching, reflecting the need identified in prevailing literature5 of the importance of faculty having these skills.

Indigenous students, students with disabilities, low income students and other student groups such as non-traditional students experience higher levels of attrition. Lack of confidence in engaging with diverse others, or perceptions that outward mobility experiences are beyond their reach pose significant barriers for some students. Providing internationalization at home opportunities so all students are supported in developing culturally reflexive practices6 and encouraged to see outbound mobility experiences as possible, are essential to this initiative. 

Project Outcomes: Access Resources

Project Contact

Margaret Hearnden , PhD, Global Learning Facilitator, Centre for Teaching and Learning Innovation

Project Outcomes

  1. Create online learning options (modules) for students for developing intercultural competence / culturally reflexive practices:
    • Identify 4-5 key learning outcomes related to developing culturally reflexive practices for students
    • Identify inclusive content, activities and approaches to teaching and learning
    • Create 2 learning options (one synchronous, one asynchronous to be followed in a self-paced format) with activities that use a ‘deep learning’ approach and Universal Design for Learning, and that collaborate with students to support them in achieving their learning outcomes
    • Develop one learning option specifically focused on developing culturally reflexive practices for professional networking / the workplace (in both synchronous / asynchronous forms of delivery)
    • Develop one learning option specifically for pre / during / post support for taking part in a Virtual Exchanges (pre and post in both asynchronous formats) and other exchanges / projects
    • Identify pathways for students to be able to achieve a micro-credential in intercultural competency by engaging in these learning options (e.g., completing learning options + engaging in one ‘engaging with diverse others’ activity = completion of micro-credential)
  2. Create learning option for faculty for developing intercultural competence / culturally reflexive practices:
    • Identify 4-5 key learning outcomes related to developing culturally reflexive practices in teaching
    • Identify inclusive content, activities and approaches to teaching and learning
    • Create 1 learning option (to be delivered in an asynchronous, self-paced format) with activities that use a ‘deep learning’ approach and Universal Design for Learning, and that facilitate instructors in achieving their desired learning outcomes