One great aspect of online learning is that it opens up the entire world for us to explore. Through the means of online tools we are able to interact with people we would not otherwise meet, gain experiences from places we may not be able to visit, and join communities that might be difficult to find locally. Online learning offers flexible opportunities for combining studies, work, travel, family – no matter the location of each. However, are we always prepared for the intercultural situations we face online? How could we better prepare our students for working and communicating in today’s multicultural virtual work?
One part of my research on online degree design deals with international and intercultural aspects of online degree education. I am investigating how our students studying in an international degree programme experience international and intercultural aspects of their online education. This research will support the design of the online degree as internationalisation is one important aspect of future visions of education. Work in a multinational, multicultural business is the future for many of our graduates, and online studies should offer opportunities to gain skills that are essential in intercultural and international online contexts. Through my research I am hoping to find answers to which aspects of international online degree education can support those skills.
If I was now a student entering Higher Education, my choice would be an online degree, as I love travelling and experiences new cultures, and an online degree would give me a chance to study irrespective of location. However, as I am a teacher, I need to think about my student in that situation, and try to create innovative solutions for enabling intercultural dialogue and offer opportunities for internationalisation online. With my research I am also hoping to learn how students experience the intercultural skills of teachers and other university staff. It is essential that also staff have the skills and will to work in intercultural and international online contexts.