Western University 2016

Co-creating Curriculum in Intercultural Communication using an E-Portfolio 

Team: Laura Acquaviva, Angela Borchert, Ana García-Allén, Anupama Lalith Kumar, Maria Laura Mosco, Misha Vorotyntsev
Supporters: Sabrina Kirby, Beth Marquis

Rationale: Co-creating curriculum is particularly apt to the field of Intercultural Communication. The learner ideally needs to achieve explicitly articulated competencies – the skills, knowledge and attitudes in Intercultural Communication – by engaging in a variety of active learning experiences, reflecting on the learning process and participating in continuous formative assessment. To achieve this outcome, the new Certificates being designed in Modern Languages and Literatures at Western University draw on language and culture courses in Arabic, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish, and on courses that incorporate largely autonomously chosen learning experiences with a ‘real-world’ agenda found in community engaged learning, internships or study abroad experiences. Two common courses on the theory and practice of Intercultural Communication bring all students together to create a community of inquiry in Intercultural Communication and a community of practice for the digital tools needed to represent the learning process in an e-portfolio. The e-portfolio forms the backbone for the Certificates by integrating the participatory culture of web 2.0 based in creating, sharing, collaborating and networking with the high impact experiences in the courses. 

Theme: Students and instructors will collaborate in partnership learning communities based in communities of inquiry and practice by: (1) creating and choosing content, (2) designing evaluations and rubrics, and (3) practicing creative critical thinking together. (1) Recognizing the different needs, expertise, purpose and ambitions of learners, an e-portfolio infrastructure allows students to select experiences from both formal and informal learning associated with the courses to shape, create and present their own story of learning. Students organize, construct, and reflect on their learning process. The e-portfolio infrastructure facilitates linear and non-linear narratives, exploration of depth and deviation, visualization of differing trajectories, and collaborative sharing. (2) Co-creation envisions students as partners in learning. By developing rubrics as part of continuous formative assessment and by using participatory assessment based on self-evaluation, peer feedback and instructor guidance, students will achieve a clearer understanding of the curricular design and of the learning process. This meta-reflective process is shared in the e-portfolio. (3) Intercultural communicative competence shares many characteristics of creative critical thinking. Both aim to stimulate curiosity and promote divergence through flexibility, originality, associative and metaphorical thinking. Intercultural communicative competence not only involves noticing “who makes culture relevant to whom in which context for which purpose” (Piller 2010, p. 5), but also symbolic competence. Such exploration of relationships and identity encapsulates a habitus fundamental to co-creating curriculum. The e-portfolio allows for multimodal ways to express and facilitate this shared process of creative critical thinking, put failure into context, and engage with emotion and the imagination. 

Team: This vision of the curriculum for the already institutionally approved Certificates is being concretized by a team of graduate students working with Angela Borchert, currently Teaching Fellow for Arts and Humanities. The goal is to have most elements designed by April 30, including digital tools, e-portfolio infrastructure, active learning activities in required blended courses, and a framework of assignments for the online courses that parallel the internships, study abroad and upper year community engaged learning. The team consisting of Anupama Lalith Kumar, Laura Acquaviva, Misha Vorotyntsev (students of Spanish, Italian and German respectively), Ana García-Allén (Spanish Co-ordinator), Maria Laura Mosco (Italian Co-ordinator) and Angela Borchert (German, Undergraduate Chair) will use this design as a basis for the Change Institute. Ana, a doctoral candidate in education, has been instrumental in integrating intercultural community engaged learning and digital tools into Spanish language and culture courses. Anu, Misha and Angela experimented with elements of co-creation this past term for a community engaged learning course. Students chose the medium, focus and form for digital community portraits, co-created assignment expectations and rubrics, and peer-assessed the draft portraits. Maria Laura will next teach this pilot course. All students have background in language, informal intercultural and formal experiential learning and seek to develop community building leadership skills and meta-awareness of learning processes. 

Aims: Since co-creating a curriculum in intercultural communication and attaining digital skills to represent the learning story in an e-portfolio are challenges neither students nor faculty have encountered, our goals are: 1. to be mentored in best-practices for co-creation, particularly considering issues such as negotiating roles or tensions in the partnerships 2. to peer-review the curriculum design using exemplary instances and assess the e-portfolio as an infrastructure for co-creating curriculum 3. to create team-leadership and an action plan for developing a partnership learning community and for implementing the co-creation of this curriculum beginning in September 2016. 

Piller, I. (2010). Intercultural communications: A critical introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. EndFragment

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