Partners In Dialogue: Creating Meaningful Learning Environments

Partners in dialogue: Creating meaningful learning environments Olga Kovbasyuk and Patrick Blessinger International HETL Association During the spring semester of 2012, we conducted an online course entitled “Coming of Age on Screen”. The aim of the course was to foster US-Russian dialogues from the perspective of meaning-centered learning and thereby improve intercultural communication competencies. We would like to share our pedagogical experiences from that course. This course brought together 50 students from the Khabarovsk State Academy of Economics and Law in Russia and Mount Holyoke and Brandeis Universities in the USA. The students and faculty discussed films while practicing Russian and English communication skills. The classes used videoconference technologies, Skype and Facebook to interact with each other, synchronously and asynchronously. This experience allowed us to address the following questions: How can an open meaning-making environment promote dialogic and authorial teaching-learning strategies and behaviors? How might we decrease unnecessary power distance [...]

Learning-Scapes: Cultivating Meaningful and Sustainable Learning Ecosystems

Learning-Scapes: Cultivating Meaningful and Sustainable Learning Ecosystems Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association In Being a University (2011, page 143), Ronald Barnett describes his idea of the emerging university of the future. He calls this type of university the ecological university. According to Barnett, the ecological university is not only concerned with protecting and creating a sustainable natural environment but is also concerned about “…a much wider ambit, embracing the personal, social, cultural, institutional and technological environments and knowledge of those environments; in short, the world in its fullest senses.” The ecological university recognizes that it does not operate in isolation of its broader environments. Rather, the ecological university endeavors to cultivate authentic and purposeful interconnections with its broader environments through meaningful and diverse ways of learning and inquiry. Holistic Learning Ecosystem In this sense, a learning-scape may be defined as a conceptual construct that shapes our [...]

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