August 1997

Root Page of Article: Enhancing Cross Cultural Education Through the Internet, by Jon Franklin Ramsoomair

The Journey Begins

How does one develop a course? The obvious starting point would be that of determining what would be and needs to be achieved. My outlook is that any course should attempt to fulfill a mentoring objective. 'Mentoring, although a ...slippery concept... helps a student to ...get where he or she wants to go... ' (Daloz, 1986, p. ix). The mentoring process in a course, as I see it, refers to the shared journey of realizing new insights. Mentors.seem to do three fairly distinct types of things. They support, they challenge and they provide vision.(Daloz, op.cit., p 212)

There were other notable concepts to consider. The Keller Plan (1969) focuses on techniques to encourage critical self-analysis. This is in itself part of the quiet revolution that has been occurring in teaching. The first revolution was that of the role shift for instruction from the parent to teacher, the second the shift from the spoken to the written word, and the third, the invention of printing (Ashby, 1974). The fourth has been the incorporation of computers into the processes of teaching and learning as documented by the Carnegie Commission's volumes on computers in education (1972; 1975). Teachers need to find techniques appropriate to their courses, and they....need to find ways appropriate to whatever they are teaching to make thought tangible (Eble p.36)

Stice (1987) refers to the need to emphasize the degree of immediacy, relevance and reality of a course in order to bring it to life in the minds of students - a process that Wales and Stager (1977) call guided design The course that I wanted to stimulate students would, therefore, have certain key components. It should be relevant, immediate and real. The relevance pertains to the degree of utility perceived for present or future application. Immediacy refers to the currency of the course in terms of holding interest, and reality alludes to the potency of course material in meeting short and long term needs. The objectives finally used are:

  1. Improved cross-cultural communication skills: It is designed to augment your understanding of common cross-cultural communication problem and to develop skills that facilitate more effective cross-cultural communication. (IMMEDIACY)

  2. Enhanced knowledge of specific cultures and related business practices: Lectures, use of the INTERNET, discussions, films and class projects will enable you to become more knowledgeable about specific cultures, as well as, business and management practices. (RELEVANCE)

  3. Improved cross-cultural transition skills: Another important objective of the course is to augment your understanding of the issues involved in working and living in a foreign culture and to use this understanding to develop strategies for successfully managing cross-cultural transitions. (RELEVANCE)

  4. Increased cultural awareness: This course will aim to broaden and deepen your understanding of what culture is and how it affects organizational and business practices. (REALITY)

Dilemma on the Journey, The Fork in the Road

The request which at first could not be declined was metamorphosing into an opportunity. Here was a chance to stir, to have students feel the ambiguities of cross cultural management, to help the ride the waves of cross cultural communication.

Here was the chance to have them teach as well as to learn. But how is it possible to teach a course that calls for communication and interaction. Cross cultural implies divergence in actions, outlook and communication processes between one group of people and another, inherent differences which have to be experienced and felt. How does one show that there are differences between companies in the same country but none as great as the cross-country differences? (Manchau, 1991) Every course requires a certain degree of hands-on material, but any discourse about cross cultural management seemed to demand because of the implied sensitivity in your face, interactive events and experiences. My journey on the way to the fount of cross cultural heaven seemed to encounter a fork on the road. --Where should we go and how should we travel?

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