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The learning process in intercultural collaboration: evidence from the eChina-UK Programme

By S. (Stuart) Reid


The eChina-UK Programme was established in 2002 and originally comprised a small number of projects in which British and Chinese teams worked collaboratively to develop and pilot e-learning materials in the field of education. Phase 1 of the Programme spanned the period 2003 to 2005 and produced a number of practical outputs (Spencer- Oatey 2007). Three follow-on projects were funded in Phase 2, which started in October 2005, and these included research reflecting on issues of pedagogy as well as the creation of further teaching and learning materials. These projects ran until 2007 and, in December of that year, Phase 3 of the Programme was put in place to capture insights from the experiences of all of the completed projects. The goal of Phase 3, therefore, was to draw out the learning from Phases 1 and 2 of the eChina-UK Programme with respect to the management of intercultural aspects of international education projects. In addition to the learning to be gained from the eChina-UK projects, the Phase 3 work included new research both into data generated in Phases 1 and 2 and into other sources of knowledge relating to intercultural effectiveness. The focus was on situating the learning from the eChina-UK projects into a wider intellectual context. The intention was to maximise the understanding of the intercultural management of international education projects and enable the production of resources for those engaged in current and future projects of this kind (Reid et al. 2009). This paper presents findings from one strand of the research carried out during Phase 3 of the eChina-UK Programme. The objective of this strand was to draw on data from eChina- UK and related studies in order to produce theoretical and practical insights into the nature of intercultural collaboration as a learning process. The focus on learning was primarily determined by the realisation (from analysis of the eChina-UK data and other studies of intercultural collaboration) that building intercultural competencies required significant attention to individual and group learning. Any practical recommendations and resources developed in Phase 3 of the programme would therefore need to pay attention to how participants managed their learning during an international partnership. Similarly, we might usefully be able to demonstrate how those planning such collaborations could benefit from embedding good learning practices from the outset of their work. The purpose of this paper is to summarise and analyse the findings from the empirical work carried out within this strand of Phase 3 research. I have set out elsewhere the theoretical background to this research and specifically to the development of the learning process model utilised here (Reid 2009a). That model will constitute part of the material available to researchers, managers and other practitioners through the Global People Resource Bank ( developed in Phase 3 of the eChina-UK Programme. None of this work would have been possible without the sustained support and co-operation of our colleagues in the various eChina-UK projects and at our funding body, the Higher Education Funding Council for England

Topics: HM
Publisher: University of Warwick. Centre for Applied Linguistics
Year: 2009
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