What can no-cost international collaboration bring to students and instructors? – K. Loy and D. J. Parkinson
We’ve been drawn to a question underlying this issue of Teaching and Learning Connections: in what ways can teaching and learning generate an impact on student development, local community, and maybe society at large? If adding new perspectives can enhance this impact, then an initiative we’ve been working on may offer some initial insights. So far, our project in international collaborative teaching (PICT; uofs-pict.com) has connected undergraduate classrooms at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and Ahmedabad University in India. At this very early stage of development, PICT may already be emerging as a transnational “eduscape,” which Beck (2009) describes as a feature of internationalisation: “An eduscape could be conceptualized as the flow of educational theories, ideas, programmes, activities and research in and across national boundaries” (p. 314). Arising from individual instructors’ aspirations to leverage their collegial connections and complementarity of expertise, PICT may be evolving into a collaborative eduscape with the potential to offer significant benefits to students, instructors, and the wider community.
The courses involved in PICT so far have connected English studies in literature and communication. Drawing on expertise in both Indian and Canadian writing in English is enhancing the curriculum at both locations, while creating new, exciting (and sometimes challenging) opportuni-ties for students to work together. What has been glimpsed at moments in the real-time lectures and discussions is a richer and more personalized, culturally-sensitive and embodied interpretation of texts. With this approach, PICT undergraduate students at both institutions of higher education are invited to advance their course-related composition by contending with and comparing their own and others’ ethnolectal and cultural identities and habits. They are beginning to do so in meaningful, even inspiring ways not otherwise possible without student mobility.
It’s easy to start with what PICT does not include. The project fosters rich learning experience across institutions without affecting established hierarchical and structural parameters within institutions. Given the organisational work between collaborating instructors, it is a cost-neutral model which capitalizes on ubiquitously available equipment and freely available applications and software. No mandatory additional course-development, no explicit time or release fees for instructors, no stacked tuition, no exchange of moneys, academic credits, or people across or within institutions. With such a light footprint, PICT nevertheless has some of the implications of any disruptive post-modern practice such as Uber or AirBNB. Drawing on the expertise, practices, and networks of regular instructors may be more sustainably disruptive, perhaps, than Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), with what Miller (2016) has called their “star system” and “craze-and-crash dynamic” (pp. 4–5). What the PICT model does include is a way of delivering complementary class content as either modules or individual lectures. It thus has the potential to innovate higher education in profound but also unexamined ways that confront ethnolectal habits and social inequity through practices of cultural sensitivity, intercultural awareness, and textual analysis.
In PICT, undergraduate student participants are beginning scholars, invited to examine and articulate multiple perspectives through coursework which is discussed with classmates and literary experts locally and in a separate geopolitical reality, abroad. The negotiated territory of their composition expands as they contend with and respond to class texts with multiple insights and frames of reference. By expanding the intellectual landscape available to students, PICT also enlivens the teaching and learning for faculty/instructors who choose to collaborate in this way. Such interaction can give instructors new insights into their own teaching development and even open new avenues for their research partnerships.
PICT started as a collaboration between Dr. Payel Chattopadhyay Mukherjee, fellow in the Centre for Learning Futures, Amedabad University, and faculty in the College of Arts & Science at the University of Saskatchewan.
- Beck, K. (2009). Questioning the emperor’s new clothes: Towards ethical practices in internationalisation. In R. Desai Trilokekar, G. Jones, & A. Schubert (Eds.), Canada’s Universities Go Global (pp. 306 – 336). Toronto: James Lorimer.
- Miller, M. D. (2016). Minds Online: Teaching Effectively with Technology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.