222 paper

Collaboration for inter-cultural e-learning: A Sino-UK case study

Sheena Banks
School of Education
University of Sheffield

This paper presents work in progress in a Sino-UK project to develop inter-cultural e-learning through a collaborative team process that is itself inter-cultural. The Universities of Lancaster and Sheffield are working with Beijing Normal University, Beijing Jiaotong University, South China Normal University and Zhejiang Normal University to develop joint understandings of e-learning through the design, production and implementation of an online course. This will be a short, fully virtual course run on Moodle starting in October 2006 that will offer Higher Education teachers in the UK and China a professional development opportunity to understand more about inter-cultural e-learning. In the project the Sino-UK team are working collaboratively in ways that enable pedagogies and practices about e-learning from both China and the UK to be incorporated into the learning design of the online course. This has required us to share pedagogic beliefs, experiences of e-learning and e-tutoring in order to achieve effective decision-making around design and joint course production that draws on the collective expertise and experience of both the UK and Chinese teams. We have found that inter-cultural collaboration requires an understanding of policy, institutional, subject and role cultures as well as pedagogic beliefs. Inter-cultural collaboration has the potential to lead to new e-learning practice, but we are also experiencing considerable impact on our existing practice and challenges to our ‘taken-for granted’ assumptions about e-learning, professional development enhancement and institutional and national impact.

Keywords: e-learning, learning design, pedagogic beliefs, e-tutor training, inter-cultural collaboration, professional development