Can technology in the classroom change the culture of teaching and learning? Could this culture be more democratic and give a voice to participants who in regular seminars would not be heard? Let us listen to Hannah Peter an exchange student from Canada who talks about a Classroom Response System she has tried out as a teaching assistant in lectures at RheinAhrCampus. Then we hear from a professor Jalal Kawash, also from Canada who has been using Classroom Response Systems for years. Finally, Tsegaye Misikir Tashu from Hungary talks about a tool for Automated Essay Evaluation where professors can leave the reading and grading of essays to a computer program. Should we be scared by such innovations in the culture of teaching and learning?
absolutely learnable In our first category “absolutely learnable”, Hannah Peter from Canada who is both, an exchange student from Brock University in Canada and a course assistant at RheinAhrCampus explains what Classroom Response systems are and how they can change the culture and the teaching methods in the classroom. “How we learn” is as important as “what we learn” in the classroom. Hannah explains how new technology can help give students the confidence to “speak up” anonymously in a big group. She suggests ideas to change the culture of teaching by giving more power to the quiet and shy students.
absolutely teachable In the second category “absolutely teachable” Jalal Kawash, also from Canada talks about the teacher’s perspective of making the classroom more interactive. He is very positive about including CRS in teaching but also warns that technology can backfire when we are not careful about how we use it in the classroom.
In our final category ‘absolutely automated’ we hear from Tsegaye Misikir Tashu, from Hungary who talks about a tool for Automated Essay Evaluation which assesses, evaluates, and grades essays automatically without the professor even looking at them, by measuring how close the students get to the professor’s model answers. Is this a piece of educational science fiction?
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Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 1 June.
Until then –
Bleiben Sie absolut interkulturell!
The host of this show is: Dr. Laurent Borgmann
Editor: Hari Gautham Somasundaram
Assistants: Marina Jimenez Martin & Asim Zaman
Our show is getting more and more international. My English co-host Anne Fox has been doing her shows from Denmark where she lives with her family, our half-German half Italian and half Swiss editor Dino Nogarole is currently doing his semester abroad in León and so is editing the sound files from Spain – and I am still in Queensland, Australia where I am teaching and doing some research for one semester. However, thanks to the new media – email, virtual drives, and digital platforms – such international cooperation is feasible which means that we can bring fresh, new and I hope interesting reports from around the world directly into your ears. Our interviewees today are from Spain, Canada, and from Hungary.
Some people who listened to my absolutely down-under reports asked me whether, apart from a “Tropical Christmas by the Pool” or a “National Australia Day” which I described both in previous shows – a very normal, regular day in Australia would also be different for a European. So, I followed myself with the microphone one morning and recorded my intercultural impressions from getting up at 7 o’ clock until I arrived at the University of the Sunshine Coast at 9. You will notice from my comments how much I like it here – except for the first minutes after waking up – I admit, I am not a morning person.
In our second category we go to an unusual language classroom in Canada where the Chinese teacher encourages the students to interrupt the teaching if they are thirsty. In different cultures some gestures mean different things. Symbols are not universal. But what do you do when a good friend from abroad uses a gesture that offends you? Do you choose to ignore it and pretend nothing happened? Or do you talk to your friend and explain that the gesture is not acceptable in your culture? Listen to what John Kaethler from Brock University in Kanada did, maybe we can learn some general strategies about how to react constructively to these intercultural incidents.
Have you ever needed to construct an image of yourself, because otherwise people won’t take you seriously? When you start a new job or move to another city you could plan to try out something new. So, quite some time ago we asked Marlen from Spain and Anita from Hungary how they have worked on their personal image projection when they first started their new jobs, teaching at a university.Marlén describes how she wanted to prove to the students that she was the teacher and perhaps went a little over the top to the point that one of her students was frightened.
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Our next show will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 05.03.
To be honest it feels strange to celebrate Christmas in the summer heat here at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Back home normally we have temperatures below zero degrees Celsius and often a bit of snow, but this year I have done my Christmas shopping in shops where air conditioning from morning to evening is absolutely essential even if from the loudspeakers we are all listening to “Winter Wonderland” and “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”. And while the students at USC tell us about the typical Australian Christmas with seafood barbecue, salad and drinks by the swimming pool, of course different national groups also keep up their own traditions in Australia and Cassie told us about a Nigerian Christmas party with wonderful African food where Father Christmas is impersonated by a black Nigerian, which seems a wonderful opportunity for children and adults to be reminded of cultural diversity.
In our second category we see what Canadian students can learn from ordinary Africans if they have the right attitude to learning and to their guest country. I asked John Kaethler, a colleague from Brock University in Canada why he takes students out of their regular surroundings and organizes intercultural excursions to Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. It seems to make absolute sense that if students approach a foreign country with humility and the wish to learn they will probably get more learning out of their intercultural experience than if they followed a seminar about that country.
So we understand that intercultural learning could be initiated by lecturers at the home university, it could be triggered by contact with people in the country that is visited but our last guest on the show stresses that the ultimate responsibility is on us, the learners and travelers and that the experience should always be accompanied by thorough reflection. In our last category Ariane Curdy explains that we need to understand our own values and backgrounds in order to be open to learn from the others.
This was the last show for the year 2009, I hope you’ll enjoy the festive season, be it in the cold or in the heat! The team of “absolutely intercultural” wishes you all the best for the year 2010. And don’t miss our next show, believe it or not this will be show No 100, and will be coming to you from Anne Fox in Denmark on 8th January 2010