Musings about Virtual European Cultural Immersion Experiences
Professor David Simpson
Sunday I had a wonderful Skype session with my nephew, Andrew Bowman and his family now living in Switzerland. The video was crisp — he was using an IPad mini and I was sitting by my MacBook Pro. The sound was clear and the technological glitches were minor. I still need, however, a few more practice sessions with some old and new international friends (Thank you, Irma Milevičiūtė, for your patience, kindness, ideas, and assistance as I begin learning through Epals about the wonderful work you do in beautiful Lithuania!). I still need to master how to record Skype sessions and to practice embedding such conversations into blogging software such as WordPress. I’m also eager to compare Skype with other Skype-like video conferencing tools (e.g. Google plus hangouts and Oovoo).
I’ve rediscovered Curtis J. Bonk’s book The world is open and I am pondering to what degree I want to infuse my courses with global awareness and connections before I retire—or afterwards!
Here are some incipient thoughts I am exploring. I welcome YOUR thoughts and reactions—especially those of you living in other countries.
I see a need and many opportunities to increase global awareness of my students through the use of media such as BBC News, Google News, and Newsvine. I was thrilled last week when one of my student research collaborators in the “Pioneering a Virtual European Cultural Immersion Course” project Phoumany Phouybanhdyt alerted me to some of Carroll University library’s global news resources she had learned about in her World Politics class.
I’m very much interested in investigating how I might become a member of (or associated with) Etwinning. My thanks to student research collaborator Catrina Duncan who first brought this potential resource to my attention and to my new and old European friends Irma Milevičiūtė and Reidar Ommundsen who pointed me in some directions on how to join.
I’m debating the value of incorporating Kiva or some such international charity/ service component into the classroom to reinforce global compassion.
How essential (and what degree of mastery is essential ) for our students to learn non English languages? What should be the role of tools such as Google Translate and Livemocha? I am always humbled at the mastery of English of my international friends and embarrassed at my own failure to master the basic elements of their beautiful languages.
Does it make sense to incorporate into my courses, where appropriate, cultural universals such as music, cusine, sports, and literature? So much to think about, but I enjoy thinking—and I welcome your thoughts in particular about what are ideally the key elements for an international cultural immersion experience. Looking forward to your comments.