Should I create an online course as a tool for cross cultural management on campus? The simplest answer would be: of course, if i have all the resources.
In a perfect world, we would all allocate the necessary time and funds to various tools for building diversity. In addition, we would also do our best to provide students with constantly improving conditions.
However, the truth is that in our daily lives we have to learn how to prioritise. So the question should rather go this way instead: should we make building an online course to improve intercultural understanding a priority, or should we better focus on other tools?
First, let’s discuss the drawbacks of this method:
We all know that diversity is a life experience. Reading about the importance of acceptance is vital, but implementing it in reality is a completely different thing. While the knowledge about diverse cultures on campus and the key intercultural concepts is essential for all the students, this knowledge could be transferred in a different and more cost-effective way with limited resources on hand.
Each great program requires an exclusive content. There is nothing sadder than a poorly made online course. You know the type – when the heads are talking and the fonts don’t matter. A course that is not attractive might have an opposite effect and may actually lead to an international students disengagement. The truly useful online course requires time, effort and many iterations after completion. It might be a full time commitment for a period of time – that is why we advice choosing other methods if the course cannot be done properly.
Online courses have low completion rates. Having an online course about diversity or related topics is not a panacea. Very often, just a small percentage of everybody enrolled actually completes the course. And out of those, just some people actually spend time completing the tasks. Most students will put on the lectures while they are eating, cleaning their room or doing just about anything else. If the course is seen as an addition to other methods, it might work. If you aim at providing knowledge about diversity, you might need to rethink your strategy.
What are the benefits of an online course for students?
- In the first place, there is an individualised approach. A course that represents the culture on campus and explains how local students are involved in building a tolerant and inclusive environment is way better than a generic course online on the same topic. When new students see how exactly they could be involved and what kind of good practice models are already out there, they will be more likely to become an active part of the community.
- Preparation for arrival at campus. The online course is definitely not the whole inclusion/diversity program – it’s just a small part of it. But having guidance online offers students opportunities to prepare in advance, even before they are on campus. If the course involves a mentoring program both online and offline where students can ask questions and share their concerns, it would offer a well rounded support for your new international students even before they set foot on campus.
- Taking initiative. Students and other community members are an amazing resource for creating this kind of course. It might even open a space for dialogue: making suggestions about providing a more inclusive environment for all, sharing their own experiences and offering solutions for common problems. Being part of this kind of project helps students to become owners of their campus and make sure that the discussion is followed by an action.
As you can see, creating an online course as a tool for cross cultural management totally depends on your situation. If done properly, the course can be the place where your international students share and engaged. If not – it might waste the resources that could be used elsewhere.
It is up to you to decide! We would like to hear your view on the subject it in the comments below!