The intercultural dimension in global learning

Greetings everyone from the Pacific Northwest!

I would like to share the following considerations with you, as I believe in the synergy embedded in our cooperative learning experience.

From the very start of our program I read many interesting ideas on possible issues that we as a group may be interested in exploring. Someone (I don’t remember who, and I cannot find that post on Itslearning since there is no way to search posts) suggested that we do so by establishing informal, smaller groups with a focus on specific topics. I thought that had merit, and here I am now, sharing a few ideas within our “small group”.

Let me start with this. The ALGC has a global focus on learning. It also recognizes each student’s responsibility in the shaping of her/his own studies. This course in particular has presented us with a variety of learning approaches, from which I appreciated the shifting of the learning experience from a behaviorist perspective to one that is learner-centered and co-operative in its nature.

The readings on Phenomenography reinforced my belief that we as students have not only a responsibility but also a duty towards the success of the ALGC and of our own studies to inject our perspectives and learning goals into the program. My hope is that we will be able to negotiate ways to enrich the academic content with added shared enquiries stemming from our personal experiences and goals.

I have the feeling that so far many interesting ideas posted in the forums have not been adequately followed through. It appears that they did not develop past the initial exchange of comments. I believe it would be worthwhile to actually pursue some of those ideas and embed them into the group learning experience.

I will start with sharing a few thoughts with you within our small group, in the hope that, as the program evolves, the discussion could be extended to other members of the cohort.

Here are my thoughts.

Aside from a brief acknowledgement in Wenger’s book, I feel that this course has not dealt with the global dimension of learning as listed in the syllabus.

The course will enable students to:

§         Understand global differences in conditions for adult learning through the elaboration and discussion of own experiences of learning

§         Develop understanding of contemporary theories of learning, applied to the area of adult learning, through the analysis and comparison of their central concepts

§         Identify, analyze and discuss global dimensions of learning in how diversity or uniformity is depicted on a local level and how this affects the way people live, think and act in local communities.

I believe I am not the only one who would be interested in exploring this aspect. The collaborative effort for Assignment 2 would be a good opportunity to get us started on this.

Here are some basic considerations:

1) The task of discussing global education is complex.

2) Its complexity is further increased by the cross-cultural nature of our learning context and our diverse experiences.

In addition to the issues typical of an on-line program, when working and studying in an intercultural environment like ours there are some intercultural communication aspects that should be factored in:

  • Cultural differences
  • Personal backgrounds
  • Language differences (even though me are all using English as a way to communicate)
  • The missing out on Non-Verbal Communication patterns that are not part of our communication on Itslearning

Our living, working and studying in different countries is heavily influenced by factors that include cultural values and beliefs, experience, language, and contexts. While we participate in the ALGC, we bring all those factors into the program. However, I do not believe that such a broad intercultural spectrum will simply and magically blend in and transform itself into a new third-culture paradigm. But I also believe that that could be a feasible goal to hope for, and that it will be up to us to understand the processes through which we may create that.

Communication among us

The effectiveness of communication among us is limited. We are up against an established fact: verbal communication only accounts to 7 % of human interaction. In other words, the additional 93% that constitutes non-verbal communication usually employed to clarify meaning is lost. In our case, we rely heavily and exclusively on written communication, which is only a fraction of verbal communication. Furthermore, we all use English as a lingua franca, but we use it differently. Again, even the way we use our chosen language of communication is heavily affected by our personal, contextual and cultural circumstances.


I believe that in order to effectively discuss the global dimension of learning we should start with acknowledging and examining the wide spectrum of intercultural communication issues wrapped around our cohort. I sense that this will bring us closer together as a learning community and will help us adapt the theories learnt so far to the circumstances specific to our collaborative learning experience. (Wenger talks of the “emergence of a community of culture”)

Here are some questions that remain, among many others:

When we talk about global learning, do we envision a metaparadigm for global education, or simply a kind of learning that transcends local boundaries?

If we talk about a metaparadigm for global learning, what are the factors that would need to be examined?

Will we succeed in establishing a shared identity that will be respectful and inclusive of all participants’ cultural perspectives? (Through dialogue? Negotiation? Experiential learning? Acculturation? Assimilation? Enforcement? …….) and maybe use such model for further applications and the proposal of a metaparadigm?

Will our group identity be a mere negotiated collection of all our personal identities, or will it be instead the result of a transformation process that will eventually develop into a new shared identity?



Global education is complex. It is also part of our curriculum.

Here is an inspiring definition I found in the report for the Conference on Global Education in Europe , 2002.

Global Education is understood to encompass Development Education, Human Rights Education, Education for Sustainability, Education for Peace and Conflict Prevention and Intercultural Education; being the global dimensions of Education for Citizenship.
Global education is education that opens people’s eyes and minds to the realities of the world, and awakens them to bring about a world of greater justice, equity and human rights for all.

I understand at least two levels at which we could approach Global ed:

– at the global level (which goes hand in hand with other globalization processes )

– at the personal/group level, as participants in a global education enterprise.

I think that starting from examining some dynamics in our group could be interesting. Have a look at this quick slide show on how the cultural differences among us may impact our effectiveness to communicate.


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