Cross-cultural learning is an increasingly important pedagogical objective with many benefits for students. From enhancing inter-cultural understanding, growing global competencies, and supporting the analysis of global issues from multiple perspectives – cross-cultural learning equips students with essential skills to address society’s ‘grand challenges’ in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The creation of cross-cultural learning opportunities bring individuals together from different cultural backgrounds. Traditionally, this might have taken place through student exchange programmes. The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented travel and forced us to find new ways to connect, enabling the expansion of virtual mobility opportunities, such as the virtual mobility workshop co-delivered for undergraduate students with the University of Education Winneba, Ghana.
In 2021, the University of Derby received an ACU Virtual Mobility Project Grant to design and deliver a virtual workshop to support students struggling with digital poverty. The workshop focused on the United Nations SDGs and challenged students to consider issues of environmental sustainability at their home universities. The workshop consisted of virtual activities to promote respect and understanding for cultural differences and an appreciation of shared goals and vision. Equally importantly, the workshop helped to forge connections and friendships across borders.
The pandemic has demanded an expansion of learning virtually and in doing so, it has familiarised us with connecting online. The ACU’s network of 500+ member universities and funding opportunities comes with opportunities to connect students and faculty across the globe. It is my hope that we can create virtual mobility experiences across the ACU network and in doing so develop the cross-cultural learning and understanding that is essential to our shared future.
The University of Derby and the University of Education Winebba produced an infographic on how to develop virtual mobility workshops.
The ACU Virtual Mobility Project Grants provide funding for ACU members to deliver a virtual mobility project – such as an online summer school – in partnership with another ACU member university. The grants aim to help students enhance their intercultural skills and global knowledge without the need for physical travel. Watch this video to learn more about virtual mobility projects.