Category: Virtual European Cultural Immersion Project

Carroll ReflectionsCultural UniversalsCurious DavidGlobal EducationInternational

Language, Culture, and Internationalizing Education

I have long had a fascination with languages. In high school I studied Latin for two years and followed that with two years of Spanish. When I graduated from Oberlin College in 1971 with an A.B. in Psychology I also had studied the equivalent of a Spanish major (including credits earned at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico). While a graduate student at Ohio State University I marveled at the language fluency of foreign fellow graduate students (I spent 6 months doing research at the University of Bergen, Norway and was humbled by the challenges of learning Norwegian and by how much more about the United States Norwegians knew compared to me!). A critical component of these language learning experiences was having opportunities to be exposed to the literature, theater, art, history, and cultural contexts of these languages. It will be interesting to discover what added value such tools as Rosetta Stone software contribute to efforts to internationalize this campus. I have yet to see convincing empirical evidence that the software lives up to its heavily advertised promises. I think something like teletandem may be a more practical way to provide language immersion. I greatly admire a number of thought leaders who write well and think deeply about authentically internationalizing education. Reading two books recently, Richard E. Nisbett‘s The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outlier’s: The Story of Success, has revitalized my interest in relationships between language, culture, thought, and behavior. Richard Nisbett, whom Gladwell acknowledges as a major influence on his thinking that resulted in this book, was an invited speaker at Carroll University on March 24, 2009. Books such as these shaped motivated my tracking much more regularly global issues in higher education.


 

 

Curious DavidInfluential BooksJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsPersonal Learning ToolsVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

Sorting My Technology Learning Tool Box (Part 2)

Many thanks to student readers who have shared their thoughts about the technology learning tools from Jane Hart’s survey (identified as favorites by 500+ learning professionals from 48 countries worldwide). I found your responses thoughtful and helpful in informing my reflections about which tools to teach, which to further investigate, and which to use in my own personal learning plans. I found especially interesting your sharing which apps help you become a more effective learner. Keep those insights coming.

Continuing my ruminations from Part 1, I have mixed reactions about Tool #14, Wikipedia. I do use it as a starting point when I explore topics about which I know little. I am amazed at how current its articles often are.  Moreover, I am intrigued by the Association for Psychological Science’s Wikipedia Inititiative to improve it. However, I can’t convince myself of its credibility nor can I motivate myself to dedicate time to joining others in making it better.

I have played with Prezi (Tool #15) as an alternative to PowerPoint,  but find it too “jazzy” a presentation tool for my purposes. I can see how it might readily engage and entertain an audience younger than I ordinarily interact with.  I have found Tool # 16 (Slideshare) more useful as  a personal learning tool than as a teaching tool. I am fascinated with the potential of Tool # 99,  Learnist.

I can’t image NOT using Tool # 17 (Word). Though I presently prefer blogging tool WordPress (Tool # 8) over Tumblr (Tool # 65), and Blogger (Tool #18) and Typepad , that is more a personal preference that has evolved over time. Here is a recent comparison of some of the elements of several blogging tools. And here are some “scoops” about technology learning tools as my top tool preferences evolve.

Which of these tools allude to above serve your learning needs best? Why? What tools like this do you use most often?

Curious DavidGlobal EducationInfluential BooksJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

What Did You Do This Summer, Professor Simpson???

Flying Pig

Perhaps it is my age. Perhaps it’s my approaching retirement. However, I like to think it is because of my values. I no longer yield to the increasing Carroll peer and institutional pressure (and financial incentives) to be on campus teaching, writing grants, doing research, and mentoring students over the summer. Summer for me is a time to be away from campus and from campus emails— a time for reflection, for recharging, for redirection, for play and for rejuvenation. I never stop learning (amusingly my Mac DayOne App just eerily intruded to ask what I learned today!).

I’ve hardly been academically or intellectually stagnant since I left campus in May.  Among the books that I have enjoyed reading this summer are

  • Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son
  • Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo
  • Ben Fontain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  • Khaled Hosseni’s The Kite Runner
  • Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and her Behind the Scenes at the Museum
  • Connie Willis’s The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories
  • Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman
  • Marisha Pessl’s Night Film (thank you, Susan Gusho, for the treasured autographed copy!)
  • Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus 
  • Robert Galbraith’s (aka J. K. Rowling) The Cuckoo’s Calling

What shall I read next?

I have written almost every day (blogging, developing international contacts, Twitter, Facebook, book reviews, manuscript reviews) though what I write and where  I write seems not to be highly valued by my institution’s reward system. C’est la vie.

I continue to develop expertise to bring into the classroom technology learning tool applications (e.g. Ning, WordPress, Paper.li, Scoopit,  and Animoto) based upon the path-breaking contributions of Jane Hart and others I have “met” virtually this past academic year and this summer. I have created a Sandbox for International Educators whom I have come to know and respect and experimented with BlogTalkRadio.

Here is an Animoto short video slideshow of some highlights from this summer: Final Copy of Summer Vacation 2013.

Curious DavidGlobal EducationVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

Stlll More Lessons from Lithuania: Kas geriausi? Mes geriausi! Jūs geriausias

  1. Kindness, compassion, caring, and good cheer can successfully be exchanged (even “virtually”) even when separated by language, gender, age, culture and time zones.
  2. Lithuania is a beautiful country and a neglected European gem.
  3. Being given permission to join Irma Milevičiūtė’s  blogging platform based on her eTwinning project called TIPC (The International Penpals Club) started in 2012 was a joyful, enriching  educational experience. Thank you, Irma, for risking my participation. Kas geriausi? Mes geriausi! Jūs geriausias
  4. I learned so much from your students and from the other eTwinning project participants. Kas geriausi? Mes geriausi! Jūs geriausias.
  5. You deserve the best!—David
Curious DavidGlobal EducationVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

(Mis)Adventures in S-TEAM Screen Casting: Mistakes and Out-takes

Over the course of the last year my research assistant students and I have been experimenting with a number of video hosts (among them Vimeo, YouTube, and ScreenCast) and numerous screenshot/screencast applications (e.g. Voila, Camtasia, Jing, and Screenflow) and playing with Skitch. Sometime soon, after the semester ends on May 12, I’ll turn my attention to a thoughtful comparison of these tools. For now, here are some examples of their use by me and my students as we explored learning tools that might be useful in our “Pioneering a Virtual European Immersion Course” Project. For your amusement if not for your edification!

Curious DavidGlobal EducationVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

Reflections on Creating a Virtual Cultural Immersion Course: Lessons Learned (Part 1)

Influenced by technology learning tool visionaries such as Jane Hart and Michele Pacansky-Brock and by practitioners such as Susan Manning and Kevin Johnson, Steve Johnson, and Irma Milevičiūtė I have been focusing my attention this year on the viability of a new course that would incorporate such learning tools. How, though, does one decide which to use among the plethora of tools available and among the increasing number appearing? In my search to answer this question I initially drew upon three primary resources. Susan Manning and Kevin E. Johnson, in their valuable book The Technology Toolbelt for Teaching, suggest that among the things entering into one’s decision should be thinking through 1) what problems would be solved by using the tool, 2) the cost of the tool, 3) the “platform” which will be used, 4) the level of expertise needed for the user, 5) issues of accessibility for special needs students, 6) technical requirements, and 7) the reliability of the tool.
Steve Johnson’s Digital Tools for Teaching provided me a useful starting point for examining 30 e-tools (grouped according to appropriateness for the novice, the developing user, or the advanced user) for creating, collaborating, and publishing. Michelle Pacansky-Brock, in her superb book Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies organizes her recommended “toolkit” in terms of those which are essential, those which enhance or facilitate communication and content creation, and those tools useful for back-channeling and developing participatory learning.

For the past six years I have been intermittently exploring the Top 100 Learning Tools championed by Jane Hart. At the end of last year I experienced a fortuitous opportunity to focus on the usefulness of the tools. On April 26, 2012, a call for proposals was made university-wide to use technology to develop course materials and travel plans for Carroll Cross-cultural Experiences (CCE’s). On April 27, my six-member student-research team composed of Phoumany Phouybanhdyt, Ryan Waters, Catrina Duncan, Amy Peterson, Elizabeth Firkus, and Maxine Venturelli emailed me that they enthusiastically and unanimously wanted to rise to the challenge of creating such a course. In October of this year they were successful in being awarded the opportunity.

As my students and I have worked together on this particular project the following tools have proven most useful (and therefore “top tools”) to me. Lucid explanations for each of these tools can be found in Jane Hart’s pithy yet information-laden “Quick Guides.”
1) Twitter: I have become much more Twitter-literate having a good sense of whom I want to follow.
2) Wikispaces: Served as a first sandbox repository for collaboration for my student research team.
3) Ning: Though it is expensive, the return on my investment is having a controlled, (for now) FaceBook-like private environment which allows seamlessintegration of chat, videos, blogging, and other tools.
4) Google Docs: A place and means where my students can share with each other the results of their research efforts. They actually taught me its utility!
5) WordPress: My preferred platform for blogging (after evaluating six). I have been able to reach out via FaceBook and Linked-In WordPress connections to alumni, present and former students, new International friends, and trustees who shared an interest in our project.
6) Skype: One of several Voice Communication tools we have experimented with.
7) Ipad Apps: A plethora which I shall explore more fully in another post. Since each of my students was awarded an Ipad for this project, we have concentrated especially on making sure the tools we use have a “mobile” technology application.
8) Various Browsers: Safari, Chrome, and Firefox in particular. It was enlightening and frustrating to discover that not all apps or tools are equally friendly across all browsers. This was especially the case with Screen-casting software.
9) Epals and Edmodo: Though I ultimately found both too restrictive for my uses for this particular project, through them I became much more aware of the exciting and extensive uses of these tools by K-12 students—and I formed an especially enriched international friendship.
10. Diigo (especially for educators): I am daily informed of resources which have proven to be invaluable for this project.

Later this week my students will share a preliminary report of their research and I’ll learn which tools they found of most value for course creation and course participation.
In the near future I’ll post the 10 learning tools I definitely am going to invest considerable time into this summer if this project continues or if I am encouraged to continue my efforts.

Curious DavidGlobal EducationVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

Music is a bridge across cultures and across the world: Cloudburst

Curious DavidGlobal EducationVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

Building Bridges Kindergarten through 99+

My mother was a first-grade teacher; my sister taught in high school and college. My father-in-law and brother-in-law were high school principals; my sister-in-law taught in elementary schools. I have a long-standing interest in building and crossing bridges that connect teachers and learners of different ages and from different cultures. I continue to discover and marvel l at internet tools that facilitate “learning without borders.”

While I blogged for a year at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online as “Curious David” one of my most valued colleagues in learning was a middle school teacher (thank you Pamela, for all you taught me). I find considerable value in monitoring the blogs of Richard Byrne, Steve Johnson, Larry Ferlazzo, and of course the ubiquitous Jane Hart.

Recently I have begun investigating the capabilities of epals and edmodo as tools I might use to reduce barriers between learners from different cultures (including academic cultures) and different ages.  The payback has been immediate both in developing of new virtual friends and of being impressed at the amazing kinds of learning experiences our children are being introduced to.  I am becoming quite impressed by the teaching/learning capabilities of learnist.

What bridge-building tools have you discovered that can promote collaborative leaning across cultures—and across ages Kindergarten through 99+?


Curious DavidGlobal EducationVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

Musings about Virtual European Cultural Immersion Experiences

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 NewsGoogle 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.
  • To what degree should I explore global views of religion, spirituality, and being?
  • 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 musiccusine, 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.