How Technologies Can Localize Learners in Multicultural Space: A Newly Developed “Global Studies” Curriculum

How Technologies Can Localize Learners in Multicultural Space: A Newly Developed “Global Studies” Curriculum

Gilbert Ahamer (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4014-6.ch008
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Technological innovations can be used in many ways to enhance the suitability of global learning. A newly developed online-supported curriculum “Global Studies” takes account of the necessities of interdisciplinary, intercultural and interparadigmatic learning. The history and genesis of such an innovative curriculum is embedded in a national umbrella organisation focusing on development studies. As the interdisciplinary core, a new lecture on the fundamentals of Global Studies has been implemented in 2010/11 that envisions team teaching and interdisciplinary perspectives. The web platform allows students to present their professional views and discuss them in a peer review. Dialogue and discourse are enhanced by repeated change of roles which is enriched by the broad international and intercultural backgrounds of the participating students. Cultures of understanding are generated and widened as a prerequisite for future careers in development cooperation, diplomacy and transnational organisations.
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1. Underlying Didactics

The didactic thesis of this paper is that web-supported learning tools (Schwartz et al., 2003) have to facilitate intercultural understanding.

This paper’s approach suggests that deeper dialogue-induced cognition in Dewey’s sense (Berding, 1999) can enhance interparadigmatic understanding, civilisational evolution and multicultural education towards democratisation (Purnendu & Tripathi, 2003). In a “learning society”, the integration of views and perspectives constitutes the core of multicultural processes.

Moreover, learning technologies will hopefully contribute to entrepreneurialism (Woods & Woods, 2011), to a learning community (Robertson, 2011), to reflecting on others’ philosophies (Wang, 2011), and finally achieve mutual integration of learners’ views into a consensus. Here the change of roles is enabled and prompts learning; this opens up the possibility of using the wide range of game-based learning and role play (Prensky, 2001). Managed learning environments are optimally designed in a way to suit various learner types and may offer opportunities for different personal cognitive and communicative rhythms and patterns (Ahamer, 2010).

Concrete usage of learning technologies is a clear function of the underlying didactic concept.

Well-coordinated exchange and mutual approximation of academically substantiated views is the central didactic-pedagogic task in the area of multiculturally and developmentally oriented interparadigmatic curricula such as “Global Studies” described earlier (Karl-Franzens University, 2010; Ahamer et al., 2011).

Views on realities” are the core element of consideration in intercultural and multicultural learning. Figure 1 symbolizes “realities to be learned” by the globe and – in a more differentiated manner – by a Greek temple. The “learning individual” (up right) uses glasses to view realities “through a lens”. The usual concept of interdisciplinarity refers to looking at reality through different parts of the lenses, using different rays from the eye onto the world for different scientific disciplines, when staying in this symbolism.

Figure 1.

Interdisciplinarity means to look through different lenses


2. Interdisciplinarity, Interculturality And Beyond

This paper clearly distinguishes between (1) interdisciplinarity, (2) interculturality and (3) an interperpectivist or interparadigmatic approach.

2.1. Interdisciplinarity

Interdisciplinarity here means to look at one complex issue in the world using different lenses of perception (traditionally described as “disciplines”). These “disciplinary perspectives” are often associated with different faculties. Hence it was imperative for the GS initiative to involve members of all university faculties: law, history, economics, sociology, natural sciences, technology (symbolized by the pillars in Figure 1).

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