Monday, April 13, 2009

global cooperation project

As an instructor in higher ed teacher prep programs, I am always looking for innovative but authentic ways to infuse curriculum with cultural diversity. With the explosion of the web 2.0, there are so many more opportunities for exposure to different cultures and traditions, all at our fingertips. So, a project could easily use epals or something similar to encourage students to strike up conversations and communications with people who are exceptionally different from our comfort zones at home.

I examined for our last project, which was a really interesting website and a nice switch from Youtube. There are certainly mainly similarities between youtube and odeo, but for me, odeo was a nice change of pace. I would use odeo as a vehicle of communication for students to communicate with others by uploading audio or video clips on a variety of topics involving cultural diversity.

Specifically, I was thinking how interesting it would be to have my college students prepare videos of concepts that we discuss on our teacher prep classes. I teach a behavior management class where we discuss various different theories and principles of classroom management and control. However, we also discuss, at length, how the culture of a student can dictate what is appropriate and allowable classroom behavior. For example, some cultures believe that direct eye contact is disrespectful and almost rude, while in other cultures, eye contact is a sign of respect and reverence. Similarly, in some cultures using a loud voice volume is acceptable and part of everyday communication, while in others, it is too casual and familiar.

I would love to see my students prepare videos discussing principles of behavior management and researching how culture impacts what we, as educators, view as appropriate. Most teachers operate from a middle class SES point of view, and more often than note, teachers are white females whose first language is English (and who do not have a second language). However, our students come from diverse backgrounds and cultures and we are not prepared to manage behavior in a manner which honors each student's individual traditions and customs. What better way to share this information than through videos on the web?We could video tape ourselves teaching culturally diverse groups and dissect/critique what was successful (or not) to serve as a learning experience for ourself and others. If we could obtain video consent from out students, I would love to see a series of student testimonials where we ask students probing questions, asking them to reflect on their classroom behavior and discuss what is allowable within their culture (and most importantly, why?)

With the internet providing us access to so many resources, Odeo would provide educators with a vehicle to share information.


  1. Hi Kathy, I have some friends at Odeo and I believe they are pursuing what you are speaking of above. You might want to drop them an email at their future@ or webmaster@ address, on their /about page. EW

  2. Kathy,
    The Peace Crops training book has many chapters that might be of interest to you. I especially like this one I'm not able to find the part on cheating that I used in a class when I taught f2f students at UB and we invited students from the English Language Institute to discuss various cultural issues including that one. Having American students interact with intermediate or advancerd English language learners can be the start of many great discussions and provide some interesting insights.
    Dr. Burgos