Fostering Global Competence Through Cross-national Asynchronous Online Discussions

Nannette Commander (1)
Peggy Gallagher (1)
Yali Zhao (1)
Yongheng You (2) 

(1) Georgia State University, United States
(2) Sichuan Normal University, China


Universities are seeking techniques that create international experiences for students so they become more globalized in their perspectives. One method of fostering global competence is creating cross-national asynchronous on-line discussions with students from different countries within courses.  The purpose of this study was to explore how participation by American and Chinese graduate students in asynchronous online discussions on classroom case studies promotes construction of new knowledge and greater understanding of the impact of culture on education. Participants were American and Chinese students enrolled in an online section of a learning theory class in an urban research university in the southeastern United States. Student transcripts were analyzed according to the Interaction Analysis Model (IAM) developed by Gunawardena, Lowe, and Anderson (1997) to determine evidence of construction of new knowledge. Additionally, student transcripts and responses to open-ended questions on their perceptions regarding participation in the online discussions were analyzed according to the content analysis and constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) to determine reoccurring themes.  Results indicate that construction of new knowledge occurred and that asynchronous online discussions on case studies are very beneficial to both American and Chinese students for fostering a more globalized perspective.  The discussions provide an exciting forum for communication about learning theory and the culture behind instructional practices.  Importantly, this study also adds to the knowledge base about cross-national online courses and serves as a guide for those who wish to create international online courses.

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