Case Study: Flattening Learning in a virtual service-learning course

This essay appeared on the site of the new World Council on Intercultural Learning and Global Competence, : How Can We Foster a Mobile Mindset While Sheltering in Place? It discusses what happened as a course at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, predicated on a mobile cross-cultural learning model, was suddenly transformed due to the Covid outbreak.

It’s a question on the mind of every student, faculty member and family around the U.S. – and no doubt, anywhere on the planet.

The faculty authors came to these conclusions:

“The process of reframing and reflecting on these three courses during the pandemic allowed us to draw pedagogical implications for ICC development using digital spaces. Among them:

  • ICC development is possible in novel and innovative ways through online means
  • The pandemic flipped the scripts on mobility and privilege
  • Dis-location with technology can bring location and mobility to the ICC forefront 
  • Instructors need to create space for unplanned/emergent intercultural encounters 
  • Educators should foster a mobile mindset as it relates to our teaching, even when mobility is not logistically possible 

From this brief essay and others like it written since last summer, the success of online learning – whether intended for a domestic or an international environment- has everything to do with the talent, imagination and technical skill of faculty. I’ve read of those who think that going forward, new criteria for hiring faculty may, of necessity, include evidence of IT skills.

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