Seven Principles of Good Practice for Virtual International Collaboration

Seven Principles of Good Practice for Virtual International Collaboration

Diane Boehm (Saginaw Valley State University, USA) and Lilianna Aniola-Jedrzejek (Poznan University of Technology, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-166-7.ch018
OnDemand PDF Download:


This chapter presents seven principles of good practice for conducting virtual international collaborations with students. The authors have conducted such collaborations with several different groups of American and Polish university students using different models. The collaborations were the basis for distilling these seven principles: develop cross-cultural awareness and mutual understanding of the culture of each group; create a multifaceted virtual environment; coordinate calendars; require intermediate level of English language proficiency; create relevant, engaging collaborative assignments with rubrics and shared understandings for evaluation of student work; establish methods for successful group interactions, including information-sharing and relationship-building; evaluate project outcomes. These seven principles of good practice can assist instructors to develop successful virtual intercultural collaborations that prepare students for the workplace of the 21st century.
Chapter Preview


“Think globally—act locally.” This slogan, popular among environmentalists, has equal validity for today’s institutions of higher education, where preparing students for the future must embrace both the global and the local. As we teach and mentor young people preparing to enter the workforce, we act locally to prepare them for a global community very different from previous generations. It is clear that the workplace of the 21st century will increasingly demand employees who bring a global perspective as well as a multiplicity of abilities to their work, including an understanding of world cultures, an ability to work collaboratively, and the capacity to integrate technology into many facets of their work.

If students are to develop these capabilities, they must have real-world learning experiences, including opportunities to develop understanding of the barriers that can complicate intercultural interactions:

At the present time there is a greater need for effective international and cross-cultural communication, collaboration, and cooperation, not only for the effective practice of management but also for the betterment of the human condition. Ample evidence shows that cultures of the world are becoming more and more interconnected and that the business world is becoming increasingly global. As economic borders come down, cultural barriers will most likely go up and present new challenges and opportunities in business. When cultures come into contact, they may converge on some aspects, but their idiosyncrasies will likely amplify. (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004, p. 1)

The desire to give students real-world experience in surmounting cultural barriers as they developed collaboration and technology skills became the impetus for virtual international collaboration between university students in our two countries, the U.S. and Poland. Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) in Michigan is a regional state university with about 9,450 students. Poznan University of Technology (PUT) in Poznan, Poland, is the fourth largest technological university in Poland, with about 20,000 day and weekend students. PUT is likewise regional, as the majority of its students come from the west-central Wielkopolska region. It also has students from small towns in northern Poland, and a small number from eastern Poland. Over the span of the past several years, we have conducted English language cross-cultural collaborative learning projects with students from both universities in multiple online contexts and, by trial and error, have learned a great deal about what makes such collaboration successful or not.

Recognizing that globalization has permanently changed national perspectives as well as international relationships, the idea of collaboration between students of both our universities has focused on two goals. Our first goal has been to build mutual understanding and openness to other cultures. This understanding of other cultures, already familiar to most Polish students who have traveled to neighboring countries, has become a priority for Poland, as it entered the European Union on May 1, 2004. Such understanding is equally important but less common for American students, whose sphere of interest may stop at U.S. borders, with limited awareness of the dramatic changes globalization has already begun to bring about within and beyond those borders.

How can students build cultural understanding and openness in this new international environment? What has changed? What has stayed the same? Journalist and historian Tom Friedman, in The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization (2000), provides some context. Friedman has charted the beginning of this era of globalization as the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, which permanently shifted not only political boundaries but also human possibilities. Friedman contrasts the image of the ultramodern Lexus luxury automobile, representing ever-evolving global technologies, with the gnarled roots of the ancient olive tree, a symbol of the age-old needs for community and personal freedoms characteristic of human learners. Friedman cautions thoughtful world citizens to weigh priorities in this new global environment:

Globalization emerges from below, from street level, from people’s very souls and from their very deepest aspirations. Yes, globalization is the product of the democratizations of finance, technology and information, but what is driving all three of these is the basic human desire for a better life—a life with more freedom to choose how to prosper, what to eat, what to wear, where to live, where to travel, how to work, what to read, what to write and what to learn. (p. 333)

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Chao-Han Liu
Chapter 1
Lorna Uden, Nian-Shing Chen, Chun-Wang Wei, Jui-Chu Fan
The implementation of Online Synchronous Learning (OSL) poses many challenges to existing instruction technology theory because of the complexity of... Sample PDF
Online Synchronous English Learning from Activity Theory Perspectives
Chapter 2
Eva Lindgren, Kirk P.H. Sullivan, Mats Deutschmann, Anders Steinvall
In a case study a University class undertook a translation from Swedish to English in a keystroke logging environment and then replayed their... Sample PDF
Supporting Learner Reflection in the Language Translation Class
Chapter 3
Katsunori Kotani, Takehiko Yoshimi, Takeshi Kutsumi, Ichiko Sata, Hitoshi Isahara
In this chapter, the authors examined reading evaluation methods for foreign language learners based on learners’ reading processes. The goal of... Sample PDF
A Reading Evaluation Method for English as a Foreign Language Learners Based on Reading Performances
Chapter 4
Robert Ariew, Jeremy Palmer
Enrollments in Arabic language programs are rapidly growing throughout the United States. Until recently, Arabic has received minimal attention in... Sample PDF
Developing Hypertext Reading Materials for the Teaching of Arabic
Chapter 5
Bolanle A. Olaniran
This chapter explores computer-mediated communication (CMC) and information communication technology (ICT) use in language learning. More... Sample PDF
Culture and Language Learning in Computer-Enhanced or Assisted Language Learning
Chapter 6
Indi Marie Williams, Heather N. Warren, Bolanle A. Olaniran
Within a globalized society, foreign language acquisition is essential to promote intercultural global communication. For many, the use of... Sample PDF
Achieving Cultural Acquiescence Through Foreign Language E-Learning
Chapter 7
Eleonora Pantano, Assunta Tavernise
This chapter aims at illustrating how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) could be used to exploit and disseminate Cultural Heritage... Sample PDF
Learning Cultural Heritage Through Information and Communication Technologies: A Case Study
Chapter 8
Wei-Peng Lien, Rita Kuo, Maiga Chang
This project aimed to construct a Blended Learning model with a lecture-review Web site, which would support students’ self-learning at home or in... Sample PDF
Using Blended Learning to Teach Foreign Brides Chinese
Chapter 9
Terence Murphy
One central task faced by those interested in the corpus analysis of second language writing is how to measure ESL textual sophistication. While... Sample PDF
Exploring the Concept of Emergent Coherence in a Corpus of Korean EFL Texts
Chapter 10
Giuseppe Conti, Raffaele De Amicis, Gabrio Girardi, Michele Andreolli, Stefano Piffer
In the past years the adoption of computer graphics to improve learning experience has seen a rising success. The wide availability of dedicated... Sample PDF
The Role of Interactive Computer Graphics to Augment the Learning Experience of Cultural Heritage Within Museums and Expositions
Chapter 11
Yue Ming, Zhenjiang Miao
This chapter was inspired by the work of the designers of a Mandarin language e-learning as they attempted to find the best solution to deal with... Sample PDF
A Mandarin E-Learning System in Pervasive Environment
Chapter 12
Jiyou Jia
Computer Simulation in Educational Communication (CSIEC), is not only an intelligent Web-based human-computer dialogue system with natural language... Sample PDF
An Intelligent Web-Based Human-Computer Interaction System with Natural Language CSIEC and its Integration into English Instruction
Chapter 13
Hamdi Erkunt
Can a traditional college course be enhanced with online collaborative learning, with similar attributes to knowledge work in the modern world? Can... Sample PDF
Developing Electronic Portfolios in a Computer Supported Collaborative Learning Environment
Chapter 14
Min Kang
The goal of this chapter is to explain several experiments carried out by our research group to explore whether synthetic speech can be currently... Sample PDF
Synthetic Speech in Computer-Enhanced Foreign Language Learning
Chapter 15
Niki Lambropoulos, Martha Christopoulou, Kosmas Vlachos
This chapter presents culture-based language-learning objects (CLLOs) in computer-assisted language learning (CALL), supported by user-centered... Sample PDF
Culture-Based Language Learning Objects: A CALL Approach for a Ubiquitous World
Chapter 16
Nektaria Palaiologou
Nowadays, it is a common ascertainment that information and communication technologies (ICTs) and networked learning are not easy to access for many... Sample PDF
Intercultural Dimensions in the Information Society: Reflections on Designing and Developing Culturally Oriented Learning
Chapter 17
Karen L. Murphy, Yakut Gazi, Lauren Cifuentes
This chapter addresses the question, “How can we overcome potential cultural discontinuities in online collaborative project-based learning... Sample PDF
Intercultural Collaborative Project-Based Learning in Online Environments
Chapter 18
Diane Boehm, Lilianna Aniola-Jedrzejek
This chapter presents seven principles of good practice for conducting virtual international collaborations with students. The authors have... Sample PDF
Seven Principles of Good Practice for Virtual International Collaboration
Chapter 19
Rita Zaltsman
The present chapter assesses the key questions of communication barriers in distance learning virtual communities. To examine their cultural... Sample PDF
Communication Barriers and Conflicts in Cross-Cultural E-Learning
About the Contributors