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Using a Discussion Board to Promote Cross-Cultural Understanding. November 5, 2005 3rd Annual Teaching and Learning Mentors Best Practices Conference. Second Iteration. Creating Diversity Experiences in a Rural University Shelley D. Kilpatrick and Debbie Gamble

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using a discussion board to promote cross cultural understanding

Using a Discussion Board to Promote Cross-Cultural Understanding

November 5, 2005

3rd Annual Teaching and Learning Mentors

Best Practices Conference

second iteration
Second Iteration
  • Creating Diversity Experiences in a Rural University
    • Shelley D. Kilpatrick and Debbie Gamble
    • Illinois Sociological Association
  • Differences
    • Gen Ed. vs. Upper-level Majors
    • Topics relevant to new course
    • Moved from 3-school exchange to 2 school exchange
southwest baptist university2
Southwest Baptist University

As many students from rural counties as from the big cities of Kansas City, St. Louis, and Springfield

sbu students
SBU Students
  • 1,514 Main campus students
  • 56% Female
  • 90% Single
  • 67% Baptist, 18% other Christian, 15% other
  • Top Majors:
    • Business
    • Elementary Ed.
    • Psychology
    • Christian Ministries
social psychology
Social Psychology
  • Upper level sociology-psychology course
  • Covers diversity issues, cultural understanding issues, human relationships, group relationships, etc.
  • Goals and Objectives
    • Examine individual, group, and societal level phenomena from a social psychological perspective
    • Be able to make real world applications in areas such as education, business, race relations, and personal relationships
activities that provide context
Activities that provide context
  • Classroom lectures on cross-cultural issues
    • Individualistic vs. Collectivistic culture, for example
  • Reading assignment by professor in Japan and answer associated questions
  • Information about Japan mini-lectures/slides
    • Weddings, politics, holidays, etc.
    • Often tied to discussion topics or things Japanese students bring up in discussion
  • Extra Credit Field experience – Japanese restaurant and/or cultural festival
the initial exchange
The Initial Exchange
  • The Japanese Class
    • Kyoto Koka Women’s University (Kyoto, Japan)
    • Digital English class
    • Native English Speaker Professor (Jim Drayton)
  • Begin with Pen Pal Profiles
    • General personal information and a picture (handout)
  • Email Pen Pal Exchange to break the ice (1-2 weeks)
the initial exchange1
The Initial Exchange

Email Pen Pals

  • Matched students for initial exchange
  • Goal is to get to know one other person from another culture


    • Students find similarities
    • Students have experience communicating with others who have different goals and different language skills
    • Students like this


    • Can’t monitor or advise students easily on email functions
    • Need to check Pen Pal Profiles before they send
    • Pen Pal may not respond
diversity discussion board
Diversity Discussion Board

Discussion Board

  • 2 groups, mixed representation from each school, each led by one professor
  • Topics most in line with Social Psych class content
  • Graded by quantity (2 postings/week) and quality (meaningful, uses terms learned in class, helpful to others, etc.)
  • Rubric Handout
teaching netiquette
Teaching Netiquette
  • Postings should be clear to non-native English speakers.
    • racist comments
    • sexist comments
    • derogatory, inflammatory, or insulting comments
    • vulgar comments
    • curse words
teaching netiquette1
Teaching Netiquette
  • Please be respectful of your fellow students.
  • Be cautious in proselytizing.
diversity discussion board1
Diversity Discussion Board


  • Humanity Café
  • School Spirit and Identity
  • Helping and Prosocial Behavior
  • Emotions
  • Attitudes and Persuasion
  • Friendships
  • Romantic Relationships
  • Violence
  • Prejudice and Discrimination
sample topic
Sample Topic
  • Helping and Prosocial Behavior
    • The United States has recently experienced a major hurricane with extensive damage to homes, universities, and businesses. Many people gave money, food, water, and clothes to help those in need. Cities around the country took in refugees. Many volunteers gave up time to help with the clean-up and rebuilding. Why do you think they did this?
    • Help has come from countries all over the world. Why would countries so far away, like Japan, help the Americans in the city of New Orleans and neighboring affected areas?
the discussion board
The Discussion Board
  • SBU and Kyota Koka Exchange
  • Example discussions
  • How to set up a discussion forum
diversity discussion board2

Intercultural exchange of ideas

Students learn to communicate with non-native speakers

Student participation in discussion, including those who won’t talk in class

Application of concepts learned in class

Practice with technology

The “Cool” factor

Experiencing globalization first hand

Diversity Discussion Board
diversity discussion board3

Class time to explain everything

Logistics of school schedules, getting everyone on the web board

Reticence and English Skills of Japanese students may make it seem one-sided at times

Out-of-class time

Professor monitoring, reading, grading discussion

Students complained about 2 postings/week

Diversity Discussion Board
diversity discussion board4
Diversity Discussion Board

Lessons Learned….So Far

  • All parties need to be flexible
  • Be clear about goals up front
    • English practice, diversity experience, applying social psych concepts
  • Know your technology, demonstrate to students
  • Students can police themselves (mostly)