Friday, January 11, 2008

Resources of ethnography in cross-cultural technology

Lee, Mimi Miyoung (2004) "Going global": The complexities of fostering intercultural understanding in a rural school using videoconferencing technology. Ph.D. dissertation, Indiana University, United States -- Indiana. Retrieved January 11, 2008, from ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. (Publication No. AAT 3141606). >>>

Abstract (Summary)

In light of recent world affairs, many educators have recognized a need to incorporate international content, issues and perspectives into the existing curriculum, especially in racially and culturally isolated rural environments. Considering the relative disadvantage that these rural students have in terms of cross- and multi-cultural exposure, such addition to the curriculum is expected to help students grow beyond their original cultural understanding.

This is a year-long ethnographic study conducted in a rural middle school classroom where an International Studies program was introduced through interactive videoconferencing technology with the goal of fostering intercultural understanding. The methodology of Critical Ethnography (Carspecken, 1996) was used in the design of this study. Observations, interviews and document analysis were conducted. The data was analyzed to answer the following questions: (1) how does a middle school teacher in a racially homogenous rural community integrate the International Studies program into his social studies curriculum; and (2) how do the middle school students understand and interpret the encounters with people from other countries through interactive videoconferencing technology?

The key findings show that (1) the teacher and the students considered the program to be a very valuable opportunity to interact with people from other cultures; (2) the main purpose of using the program for the teacher was to motivate the students; and (3) the students had a framework of differentiating themselves in their local culture and used it to interpret the cross-cultural encounters made possible by the program. The findings suggest that the students' interpretation often resulted in measuring the differences of other cultures with the symbols of American consumerism, producing " Americanized other cultures." The study concludes that the integration of the International Studies program was received very positively by the teacher and the students but did not result in an awareness of, and challenge to, already established frameworks for understanding difference. In order to provide instruction that results in a more sophisticated level of intercultural understanding, the study suggests future implications in pedagogical, instructional and administrative issues.

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