Dr. Ian McIntosh, one of CN guest speakers at the 2020 Assessment Institute, is Director of International Partnerships at IUPUI and an Adjunct in the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. At the Assessment Institute, Dr. McIntosh discussed his virtual exchange experience for both IUPUI and the University of Rwanda (UR) students which is facilitated by CourseNetworking. The class is taught by Dr. McIntosh and his colleague Dr. Michel Ndahimana Dr. Michel Ndahimana of UR, and began in August 2020.
“Could you briefly introduce the virtual exchange course you are teaching right now? Why did you decide to teach this course?”
Dr. McIntosh described his current virtual exchange course conducted with CourseNetworking. The class consists of 23 honor students from IUPUI and 20 marketing students from the University of Rwanda. Dr. McIntosh explained the class’s learning objectives as being twofold: to experience a virtual cultural exchange and to learn about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the perspective of the US and Rwanda.
“What are the expected learning outcomes of the IUPUI-University of Rwanda virtual exchange course?”
Dr. McIntosh explained how the learning outcomes of the course are guided by IUPUIs Global Learning Dimensions, including to:
- Analyze their own beliefs, values, and communication styles concerning those of another culture
- Practice intercultural communication
- Demonstrate an understanding of the workings of other nations and cultures
- Apply to learn from this international experience at home
“What are the designated learning activities in this course?”
There are two dimensions. The first allows students to get to know each other, emphasizing culture, identity, and current affairs. The second references the United Nations SDGs and Agenda 2030. CN posts and group conversations are used for both dimensions, with the addition of having students work together at the end of the semester to create an SDG Poster. The students then create a showcase and reflect on their work within their CN ePortfolio.
“Could you tell us more about the UN Sustainable Development Goals and student posts on the CN?”
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call-to-action to end poverty, protect the planet, and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The SDGs consist of 17 Sustainable Development Goals and a 15-year plan to continue the momentum for change with an added focus on the developed world. The need to transform unsustainable lifestyles and promote equality, human rights and justice in the industrialized world is also prioritized. Dr. McIntosh gave an example of SDG4 on quality education, including a target to develop students as both global citizens and sustainability citizens.
How do you encourage student participation? And what about grading?
The activities that Dr. McIntosh uses to encourage student participation are housed on the CN (thecn.com). Dr. McIntosh and his University of Rwanda counterpart, Dr. Ndahimana, require their students to participate in weekly posts: one is based on a specific cultural topic and two are based on SDG topics. These assignments are tracked using the CN point system that calculates posts, reflections, and other student participation activities, called Anar Seeds. The students are expected to earn a total of 250 Anar Seeds and must complete the final project to receive a certificate of completion.
“What CN features have helped you the most?”
Dr. McIntosh explained how the unique CN features have made this virtual exchange very easy to negotiate and navigate in the online environment. Those features include CN posting and polling features (social discussion), Task Tool, CN ePortfolio, Email, Video Recording, Anar Seeds, Roster, and Badges.
“What challenges do you face, and how have you been trying to overcome these challenges?”
There were several challenges that Dr. McIntosh encountered, including time zone and school calendar differences, language barriers, cultural differences, and technology and connectivity issues. Dr. McIntosh has overcome these challenges by closely monitoring student participation, rewarding the students with badges/certificates, holding synchronous class Zoom sessions, and working closely with his colleague in Rwanda.
“Any suggestions and tips you would like to share with programs and instructors who would like to add virtual exchange and global learning into their online teaching?”
Dr. McIntosh delivered helpful advice for programs and instructors who may be considering adding a virtual exchange and global learning component to their online teaching. CourseNetworking has provided Dr. McIntosh with an easy way to organize his virtual exchange. Dr. McIntosh's suggestion to the audience was to seek assistance from one’s international office to explore existing international relationships with whom to leverage and connect.
CourseNetworking and Dr. Ian McIntosh provided additional resources on the University of Rwanda-IUPUI Virtual Exchange Course at the end. Contact Dr. Ian McIntosh at firstname.lastname@example.org or CourseNetworking at email@example.com for more information and questions about virtual exchange and the CN platform.