MexCo (Mexico-Coventry)

MexCo (Mexico-Coventry)

Linguistics

Mexico / United Kingdom

Summary

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:

  • Comparative analysis of stereotype construction in the media
  • Netiquette awareness
  • Intercultural reflective practice  sumatively assessed with individual and  groupreports
  • Digital literacy development summatively assessed with the  multimedia intercultural digital learning project task

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.

Aims of the project

  1. Enhance students’ intercultural awareness and transferable employability skills in a global context
  2. Raise students’ online communicative competence in academic and professional settings when using English as a Lingua Franca
  3. Enable students to practise digital competences to co-construct collaborative multimedia learning objects aimed at dispelling previously held stereotypes about ‘Others’

INTERACTION MODES

Synchronous & asynchronous

COLLABORATIVE ACTIVITIES

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.

Format

WEEKS 1-2

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.

WEEK 3

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.

WEEKS 4-5

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.

WEEK 6

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:

  • levels of freedom & permission for young people
  • the student experience at UDEM and CU
  • what is a family?
  • British and Mexican humour

WEEKS 7-8

Assessment

CU students collate activities 1-4 in e-portfolios

CU ACADEMIC CONTEXT

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
Semester: One

Awards and Grants

Runner Up in the Online Learning category of The Guardian University Awards 2015.

UniAwards2015_EmailButton_RunnerUp

Higher Education Academy Teaching Development Collaborative Grant (£60,000), 2012-2014.

Publications and talks

  • Orsini-Jones, M., Lloyd, E. Gazeley, Z., Lopez-Vera B., Pibworth, L. and Bescond, G. (2015). Student-driven intercultural awareness raising with MexCo: agency, autonomy and threshold concepts in a telecollaborative project between the UK and Mexico. In Tcherepashenets, N. (Ed.) Globalizing On-line: Telecollaboration, Internationalization and Social Justice. (pp. 199-239). NY: Peter Lang.
  • Orsini-Jones, M. (2015). A reflective e-learning journey from the dawn of CALL to web 2.0 intercultural communicative competence (ICC). In K. Borthwick, E. Corradini, & A. Dickens (Eds), 10 years of the LLAS elearning symposium: Case studies in good practice (pp. 43-56). Dublin: Research-publishing.net
  • Orsini-Jones, M. and García, B. (2015) Strategic relations to promote internationalization at home through COIL activities: MexCo (Mexico-Coventry) Project, talk delivered at the 7th COIL Conference, The Expanding Landscape of COIL Practitioners, Networks, and Hubs: What’s Next? COIL Center, SUNY, NY, 19-20 March. Power Point available at: http://coil.suny.edu/sites/default/files/orsini_garcia-_strategic_relations_to_promote_internationalization.pdf
  • Orsini-Jones, M., Lloyd, E. and Lee, F. (2014) Reflecting on Intercultural Communicative Competence Issues in Telecollaboration Exchanges using English as a Lingua Franca. 47th BAAL (British Association of Applied Linguistics) Conference. Learning. Working and Communicating in a Global Context. University of Warwick, 4-6 September 2014.
  • Orsini-Jones, M., Lee, F. and Bescond, G. (2015) ‘Sharing Tips for Telecollaboration with a VLE’. Workshop delivered at the 10th E-learning Symposium, University of Southampton, 22-23 Jan.