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Volume 10 Edition 6: March 2011

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Virtual classroom at Lloyd International Honors College residence hall

As part of UNCG’s initiative of internationalizing the curriculum, a virtual classroom was built in the Lloyd International Honors College North Spenser residence hall, equipped with microphones, cameras, and two flat screen televisions to watch the live video feed. The first virtual class to be held in the new facility is Childhood Development in Cultural Context (HDF 610), a graduate level course taught by Dr. Jonathan Tudge of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) and Eeva-Liisa Kronqvist at the University of Oulu, Finland.

Since the class has a cultural focus, in Oulu it attracted several international students (from Mexico, China, and Lithuania) as well as Finnish students and at UNCG a variety of students. The small class has graduate students from the departments of HDFS; Teacher Education; Consumer, Apparel and Retail Studies; Genetic Counseling; and Psychology. The students find the interaction with the live feed really interesting and have enjoyed getting to know the students in Finland. While they sometimes have cross-cultural issues such as language complications, they all agreed that it is important to have someone else’s opinion about the topics they discuss. It’s also interesting when the discussions point out cultural differences, which help the students to learn more about problems in their own culture, especially when it comes to childhood development issues.

The Finnish feed is on the left and UNCG feed on the right, complete with live video camera

At the beginning of the class, Dr. Tudge calls up the class in Finland and they connect. The live feed from Oulu is clear and the students can be heard as if they were in the same room. The class is structured so that once they connect, each group has its own separate discussions about questions available to each group. Then the two groups come together to discuss as a whole. Dr. Tudge has paired each of his UNCG students with one of the students from Oulu to talk outside of class and develop the questions that are the main focus of attention during their discussions.

Dr. Tudge was instrumental in setting up the original partnership with the University of Oulu and helped chart out the HDFS exchange program with Oulu’s Early Childhood Development faculty. He started internationalizing efforts about 15 years ago by joint-teaching a class with a colleague in Finland. The students communicated through Blackboard, but the technology was unable to meet the demands of the class.

Today’s technology allows for students to connect across the world, and contribute to the goal of internationalization, enriching the lives of the students involved. Since the students in the class at UNCG have not had the opportunity to study abroad, this course gives them a chance to learn about other cultures and share their ideas.

For more information about virtual classroom opportunities, please contact Dr. Jerry Pubantz (j_pubant@uncg.edu) or Dr. Penelope Pynes (pjpynes@uncg.edu).

Previous editions:
- Vol 10, ed 5: February 2011
- Vol 10, ed 4: December 2010
- Vol 10, ed 3: November 2010
- Vol 10, ed 2: October 2010
- Vol 10, ed 1: September 2010
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