Implementation of ‘Communication and Intercultural Society’ (SOI-GR-249)
Teenagers struggle to communicate effectively. But why do they get misunderstood when the involved parties come from different countries? In this context, Greek students were introduced to Europeana to tackle cross-cultural communication barriers.
My name is Athanasia Kakali and I have chosen the particular Learning Scenario mainly because it caters to the needs of my students and our multicultural society. Our school hosts a considerable number of students who have either lived abroad or have a multicultural background. All of them try really hard to communicate with their peers. However, cultural barriers cause quite often tension in their communication. This happens because the involved parties share distinct values and beliefs. Body language and gestures may be misunderstood, too. On the other hand, effective communication and interaction between students that don’t share the same cultural values can be really valuable. It can develop a sense of inclusion, enhancing self-confidence, social interaction and teamwork. Last, it can make students more likely to appreciate all forms of art globally and can even reinforce multilingualism.
Class Profile & Delivery Mode
I implemented the Learning Scenario with an EFL class of 16 students at the Junior High School of Dionysos, a rural suburb of Athens in Greece. The students belong to a multicultural class of B1+ CEFR English level and are competent in computer skills. Students were familiar with Europeana Digital Library, too. Concerning the delivery mode, I implemented the learning scenario in two synchronous distance learning sessions via the Webex platform, since our school had switched to remote learning due to bad weather.
Initiation into the Topic
In the brainstorming stage, I initiated learners into the topic of the world heritage and cultural diversity exploiting two short videos by UNESCO: Video I & Video II .Therefore, the discussion on the definition of heritage, its main types and its importance came naturally and became more meaningful. Students activated prior mental schemata and acquired new vocabulary, as well.
To help students develop their understanding on the diversity of both tangible and intangible world heritage, I designed an interactive drag and drop brainstorming Liveworksheet. In this Heritage Liveworksheet, learners put into practice knowledge gained from the video’s input. As a result, the teacher assessed their understanding and prepared them for the activities that follow.
Analysing Europeana Resources
Regarding the analysing sources activity, I decided to make it more structured. So, I designed three worksheets using Google Docs to help students collaborate effectively: Worksheet 1, Worksheet 2 and Worksheet 3. Students formed teams in breakout rooms. Each team opened an intercultural dialogue while working on a particular worksheet. Students communicated their thoughts on Europeana images deriving from distant cultures: Picture 1, Picture 2 and Picture 3. They negotiated meanings about people in the pictures and their identity in relation to the culture they come from. This led them into the conclusion that despite the differences in origin, all people have things in common. That is, they communicate having a language as a code. Feelings are universal, as well. As a result, intercultural communication requires understanding, sensitivity and awareness.
Europeana picture used: New Zealand: two Maori women. Albumen print by Iles Photo. Welcome Collection, United Kingdom – CC BY 4.0.
British Museum Virtual Tour
The next activity focused on the virtual tour of the British Museum. Concerning this activity, students collaborated again in breakout rooms. While taking the virtual tour, students were asked to visit the section Power & Identity. First, they wandered around the various artefacts across the timeline. Then, they chose an artefact from the past that seemed important to them justifying their choice. They used Linoit collaborative board Messages for the Future to upload the selected artefacts and to accompany them by sticky notes. Last, they used the same board to communicate their inner thoughts and feelings to the future generations.
Europeana Messages for the future
As a follow-up activity students were asked to work again in teams to create a collage of Europeana artefacts with the aim to convey messages from the past to the future. Learners browsed Europeana Collections and detected particular artefacts to transmit their messages. They used Kizoa Collage Maker to create a collage of Europeana artefacts accompanied by messages.
Through this activity, learners practiced critical thinking because they tried to make associations between images and notions. Europeana artefacts triggered ideas and helped students draw connections between past and present. Collage making was not merely a canvas of creativity, but a route of self-discovery, as well. Learners discovered that messages are universal despite the artefacts’ origin. In this sense, they built a bridge into other cultures. That is, they realised that Europeana artefacts may come from diverse cultures, but can reflect common mentalities and universal feelings.
Europeana pictures used:
Teapot to commemorate Winston Churchill’s role in the development of the tank. WHA – United Archives, Germany – CC BY-SA 3.0.
Mexico or Guatemala; Maya 5th-6th century. Jade. WHA – United Archives, Germany – CC BY-SA 3.0.
Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD) terracotta China (North), Shaanxi Province. WHA – United Archives, Germany – CC BY-SA 3.0.
Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD) terracotta figurine from Shaanxi (province), China. WHA – United Archives, Germany – CC BY-SA 3.0
Last, students answered some questions in Mentimeter to evaluate their two distant learning sessions on communication and intercultural dialogue. Most of them described their experience as fun, interesting, enjoyable and cool. Other students evaluated the sessions as informative, innovative, original and authentic. The overwhelming majority appreciated teamwork in breakout rooms. According to data, 84% of students confirmed that they enjoyed collaboration a lot and 17% quite a lot.
To put it briefly, learners exploited Europeana resources to broaden their views on intercultural communication. Europeana images motivated learners to open an intercultural dialogue and view art as a path of inclusion. Students have learnt that inclusion can be associated with different beliefs, religions, cultures and with intercultural communication. Besides, students practiced all 4 C’s of 21st century learning skills; critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration and communication. On the whole, the current learning scenario can be considered beneficial to all because of its impact on the way teenagers perceive communication with others and within the framework of our intercultural society.
Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario:
Communication and Intercultural Society created by Geanina Țurcanu
Did you find this story of implementation interesting? You might also like:
- What would they say? implemented by Daniela Bunea
- The Belle Epoque – Digital Storytelling implemented by Donata Federici Monesi
- Gender Inequality in Workplaces implemented by Ana Alves
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CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Wellcome Collection.
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