Why implement VE?
Some rationales for VE.
Go through the text to explore the main reasons for making VE mainstream academic practice. Find further instructions at the bottom of the page.
An Interdependent world
The world is increasingly interdependent and there is an urgent need to develop a deeper understanding of this interdependency and to address major global challenges through multilateral and intercultural collaboration. Having students work online with peers from other countries may open up new perspectives on these challenges, enhance intercultural understanding and suggest innovative ways of solving global problems.
Global knowledge society
Intercultural, international and global competencies are required for employability in the global ‘knowledge society’. There is also a need for greater attention to notions such as critical global citizenship and civic engagement.
A recent article in the Washington Post stated:
“The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas.”
The limits of student mobility
Only about 4.5% of the total student population in the European Higher Education Area experience a period of study abroad at some time during their studies.
Even if the European objective of 20% by the year 2020 is achieved, this will still leave 80% of students without an international, intercultural experience as part of their university studies.
VE offers another way of providing students with an international, intercultural experience. This has been recognized by the EU, who have initiated the Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange pilot programme. Several tutors in the current training are involved in Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange. References to Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange will be made at several points during the training.
VE as a tool for educational innovation and internationalisation.
By engaging students in innovative online learning tasks with students from other countries and different cultural backgrounds, VE can serve as a powerful tool for educational innovation. It is a form of blended learning based on social interaction and collaboration. It supports the development of:
Intercultural and language competencies
Collaboration / 21st c skills
It adds an international dimension to learning in the disciplines by providing cross-national, cross-disciplinary perspectives and offering an innovative learning space for addressing global issues and social problems and enhancing intercultural understanding and tolerance.
Introducing VE requires rethinking course pedagogy (e.g. learning outcomes, tasks and assessment). Looked at from the perspective of internationalisation, VE offers a tool for internationalising the curriculum. It aligns well with institutions’ ‘internationalisation at home’ policies, which no longer focus exclusively on student mobility but seek to implement internationalisation in the curriculum for all students.
An example of a project implemented as part of an ‘internationalisation at home’ strategy is for instance the University of Groningen International Classroom Project.
In light of the above,
- Which of the above rationales, do you think, best address your needs as an educator or internationalization/mobility officer?
- Which will address the needs of your students?
- Can you think of any other reasons for implementing VE?
Please keep the answers in mind while working through this course. You can also reflect on these issues in your Mahara entry.1
1 Mahara is not available in this sample course.