Fostering Cross-Cultural Understanding Through E-Learning: Russian-American Forum Case-Study.

Ekaterina V. Talalakina

Abstract


Abstract? The importance of cross-cultural understanding is accelerated nowadays by globalization and joint efforts of different countries in the face of global challenges. Countries? educational systems display attempts to incorporate cross-cultural studies in their curricula across all stages of formal learning. Many higher education institutions offer special courses aimed at promoting cross-cultural studies. One of the tools used to facilitate the process is e-learning. The present article examines the case study of an internet-based collaboration between two higher education institutions ? State University Higher School of Economics in Russia and Champlain College in the USA ? in fostering cross-cultural understanding.
The project is based on the study of individualistic and collectivistic values within the framework of two corresponding courses studied at both institutions. The topicality of the study is determined by the growing importance of the cooperation of two countries on the international affairs arena, on the one hand, and the fundamental differences of the countries? underlying value system, on the other. In particular, a post-soviet Russia is generally viewed as a developing democracy representing the collectivistic end of the value spectrum, whereas the USA is considered as an extreme case of individualistic value system.
The comparison and contrast of the two systems conducted simultaneously by the representatives of both cultures (students of the two universities) within a specifically built internet forum comprises the base of the project. The case study covers the project?s objectives, its background, the rationale behind its content choice, the design of the e-learning tool, the profile of the participants of the project, its implementation stages and its outcome.
The major findings of the case study deal with the process of building cross-cultural awareness, reinforcing students? analytical skills and providing them with a research incentive, fostering self-reflection, values projection from one culture onto the other, drawing the areas of their intersection, which, finally, result in cross-cultural understanding. The results of the study are assessed at quantative and qualitative levels.

Keywords


Cross-Cultural Understanding, Education, E-Learning, International Collaboration.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Ekaterina V. Talalakina


International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning. ISSN: 1863-0383
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