MexCo is an ongoing international intercultural knowledge-transfer exchange involving students and staff from Coventry University and students and staff at the Universidad de Monterrey (UDEM). The project started in academic year 2010-2011 with the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico and was the first of its kind at CU, it then continued with UDEM. A Memorandum of Understanding between UDEM and CU has been in place since 2013 as one of the outcomes of this OIL project.
Around 450 students from CU studying the mandatory module ‘Introduction to Studying English and Languages at University’ and 400 students from UDEM participated in MexCo in academic years 2013-2014, 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. For the students at CU, 50% of the assessment of the module consisted in the collaborative design of an intercultural digital learning project using the Mahara e-portfolio system (25% of the mark) and in the face-to-face group presentation of said object at CU (25% of the mark).
The OIL project has been integrated into the curriculum both at CU and UDEM and connects students through a tailor-made intercultural online course created using the the CU’s Virtual Learning Environment Moodle. Participants also make extensive use of Web 2.0 tools such as YouTube, Skype and Facebook. The project content includes:
A distinctive feature of the project is that undergraduate ‘expert students’ are employed as research assistants and staff look at their practice ‘through the looking glass’ of these students’ eyes (see publications). At the time of writing (November 2015) the project is in its sixth action-research cycle.
Synchronous & asynchronous
e-portfolio creation, presentation, reflective report and intercultural critical reflections, intercultural online surveys, video and audio creation, discussions on the asynchronous forums, synchronous interviews on Skype.
Activity 1: Group Video Introductions
Students are matched in groups by CU and UDEM members. Students create YouTube videos sharing information on themselves, their university and city. Students must post comments on videos of international peers via asynchronous discussion.
Activity 2: Analysis & Deconstruction of National Stereotypes in Films & Adverts
Students watch a lecture on stereotypes used in American films and work in groups to research and select examples of culture construction used in British and Mexican media supported by critical discussions of the clips.
Activity 3: ‘Cultura’ Word Associations, Situation Reactions and Sentence completions online surveys
Students engage in independent and group tasks based on an award-winning intercultural project developed at MIT (Furstenberg and Levet, used with permission).
Students complete word association sentences and questionnaires to be collated as word clouds by country. Results are analysed and discussed in forums and via Skype.
Activity 4: Group Interviews & Reflective Report
Students conduct group interviews on pre-agreed topics via Skype which form the basis of reflective reports. Indicative topics (agreed with the OIL partner) include:
CU students collate activities 1-4 in e-portfolios
CU Student Participants: 160 students in the academic year 2014-15.
Modules: Introduction to Studying English and Languages at University
Courses: BA English & six other courses
Level of Study: Undergraduate, Years One
Runner Up in the Online Learning category of The Guardian University Awards 2015.
Higher Education Academy Teaching Development Collaborative Grant (£60,000), 2012-2014.