Dr. Christian Jennerich (Center for Languages and Key Competencies Zessko, Division "Successful Entry into Studies for International Students")
Jörg Seifert (University of Warwick, School of Modern Languages and Cultures) https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/languagecentre/languages/german/
- Long-standing contact between the two partners following their time together as teachers of German in English schools and universities.
The cooperation project was implemented for the first time in the winter term 2015/16 and has since been an annual component of the courses held at the respective partner universities in the winter term.
At the University of Potsdam, the project is embedded in a course on intercultural competence that is open to german and international students. Participants can reflect on their experiences in Germany or abroad, prepare themselves interculturally for a planned stay abroad, and/or have the course count towards the additional certificate "Intercultural Competence in Study and Work"
- Course Living and Studying in Germany / Abroad - The Acquisition of Intercultural Competence (University of Potsdam, Zessko, approx. 10-15 German and international students of various disciplines).
- Language course German as a foreign language (University of Warwick, England/Great Britain, approx. 10-15 students of different nationalities)
While for the partners at the University of Warwick the acquisition of the German language through contact and exchange with native speakers is in the foreground, the joint activities for the participants in Potsdam are primarily aimed at
- the acquisition or (further) development of intercultural competencies and
- the expansion of options for action in international and intercultural exchange.
The study of central cultural concepts, cultural differences, the formation of stereotypes and selected processes of identity formation within the framework of the seminar is supplemented in a very practical way: by work in internationally mixed groups, through which an examination of culturally determined communication styles in everyday life as well as in science is promoted and one's own (culturally influenced) points of view are reflected upon.
By supporting self-organized learning activities in the groups, the learner autonomy of the students should also be further promoted.
If possible, both courses take place on the same days of the week with a time overlap of 45 min, so that synchronous meetings or the exchange of students in the context of their group work are possible during the seminar time.
Before the start of the cooperation, the students are registered on the cooperation platform.
- Kick-off meeting, get-to-know-you phase, and icebreaker: Students create short introduction videos and upload them to the shared platform. Teachers comment on the videos. The kick-off meeting for the Potsdam group takes place during their 3rd regular seminar session.
- Partnering: the mixed groups were assembled by both instructors based on their knowledge of their students, their majors, and their pre-communicated interests.
- Activity - Partner Interviews: In the first self-organized activity, students interview each other using the interview guidelines provided by the instructors. The results are uploaded to the platform individually or as a joint submission in a self-selected format (video, text, etc.).
- Partner activity: students present each other's Christmas and New Year's Eve customs or experiences on the website.
- Research project in partner work: In several consecutive weeks, students research in groups on stereotypes between both countries, on a current socio-political topic (e.g. Brexit, borders). Scientific, media and own perspectives are included, written down as a result and made available to each other.
- Final meeting: In the last synchronous meeting a summary, reflection and joint evaluation of the cooperation phase takes place.
In the course at the University of Potsdam, active participation in the course events, a presentation on a topic chosen by the student from a list of topics, and active participation in the exchange and activities of the cooperation phase are required for the acquisition of 3 credit points.
Google Currents (for educational institutions and companies), for which the University of Warwick holds a license, is used as the central platform. A prerequisite for the Potsdam students is the creation of an account via the partner university. For communication between teachers and students at UP, e-mail is also used. The use of further tools and applications for self-organization of group/partner activities is the responsibility of the students.
From the teachers' point of view, the following aspects are considered positive based on several years of experience:
- Basic concept and structure of the cooperation phase* and integration into the respective courses on site
- asynchronous implementation of the activities in groups
*Special consideration for the design was given to Gilly Salmon's five-step model for online collaboration.
The following aspects in particular should be seen as regular, but fundamentally manageable challenges:
- "Micromanaging" of students and groups in the early stages
- Accompanying students and partners in activities
- Identify difficulties in learning/working partnerships and find ways to overcome them.
- clear and concrete agreements between the cooperating teachers
- Determination of a structure for the planning steps (milestones)
- Immediate discussion and handling of problems
- pre-formulated objectives for the cooperation and joint, subsequent comparison of the results
- Clarification of formalities, e.g. evaluation and acquisition of credit points (credits)
(Referencing several student feedbacks in the presentation.)