Global Partners in Education Journal, Vol 6, No 1 (2017)

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Collaboration in a Multicultural Learning Environment: Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Platforms

Maria O. Villarreal-Solano, Nadezhda S. Rudenko, Anneli Schaufeli, Eleanor Kane, Christopher Brighton


While video linking through the Global Understanding Programme is an effective way to reduce prejudice and increase interest in other cultures, the number of students who can participate synchronously is limited both by physical classroom space and time differences.  During the 9th GPE Conference, five instructors committed to implement an asynchronous model of Global Understanding (GU) using the SOLE SOCIAL platform.  Students created video clips about themselves and the GU topics (e.g., College Life, Family and Cultural Traditions, etc.)  and completed a collaborative project. At the end of the interaction, the majority of video clips were posted and collaborative projects were completed. However, there was little discussion about the GU topics.  The amount of interaction in each group varied according to the students’ personalities and commitment to the class.  Although many students were comfortable using other social media platforms, they were discouraged from participating more actively in the SOLE discussion due to problems with logging in and the fact that the platform lacks notification services. Nevertheless, the project resulted in several development opportunities for the future of asynchronous work in the traditional GU programme. Firstly, sharing videos to illustrate GU topics opened a new avenue of opportunity to broaden the current discussion topics from conversations to interactive explorations. Secondly, allowing students access to asynchronous timing encouraged the development of student self-learning skills and investment in their own education. Finally, the asynchronous project illustrated the benefits of platforms to increase out-of-class interaction in the coming year.

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