Not long ago most of us, international education professionals, thought that our students became more interculturally competent through studying abroad and coming into contact with people from different cultures. Two decades of research later, we have come to two very different insights.

First, we understand that students don’t learn to get along better with others merely through coming into contact with, or even through being “immersed” in, the differences they encounter in far-away places. And second, we understand that the students do learn to interact more effectively and appropriately with others if we integrate global competence training with their study abroad program, and teach them developmentally—while they’re at home and especially while they’re abroad.

As we absorb the implications of these research-driven insights and shift into a more developmental, experiential and holistic paradigm for intercultural learning and teaching, we’re up against two major challenges:

  • How can we design and deliver interculturally effective and appropriate training when our students are in one place and we’re in another?
  • How can we meet the demand for training many hundreds or even thousands of students at our schools, colleges and universities who are studying abroad or coming to us as international students? Can on-line intercultural education make it work for our students, and for ourselves?

The Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication’s (SIIC) course “Intercultural education on-line: How you can make it work for your students,” (Session III A, 34) will explore these issues. Lead by Dr. Mick Vande Berg, founding board member of the Forum on Education Abroad, and Bert Vercamer, Chief Program Innovation Officer at AFS Intercultural Programs, the five-day course (23-27 July 2018 in Portland, Oregon, USA) will be offered within SIIC’s inclusive and supportive environment for hundreds of professionals in intercultural communication from around the world to learn from each other. Course participants will explore pedagogical and intercultural challenges in three different ways.


Online education is first and foremost about education. We will start by introducing you to a four-phase developmental framework that will help us explore the effectiveness of various approaches to on-line intercultural education, including blended learning, peer learning, and flipped classrooms. Learning how to use this framework will allow you to help others, and yourselves, develop through framing intercultural learning as a four-phase process:

  • Increasing understanding and awareness of our own characteristic ways of making meaning and behaving in familiar and unfamiliar contexts;
  • Increasing understanding and awareness of others’ ways of making meaning and behaving in familiar and unfamiliar contexts;
  • Responding mindfully in contexts that disorient or challenge us;
  • Engaging with others in those contexts: Shifting our perspective, attuning our emotions, and adapting our behavior in effective and appropriate ways.

We will ask you to complete, and to learn to facilitate, a number of the experiential activities that are found in AFS’s Global Competence Certificate (GCC), an innovative blended learning program that educators in a growing number of countries around the world are now using. Find out more about the Global Competence Certificate here.


As learners ourselves, it’s important to get our hands dirty. That’s why you’ll work on a course capstone experience, where we will ask you to work in pairs or in small groups as you design a new, or as you learn to facilitate an existing, e-learning program to help your own students learn and develop interculturally.

To sum up…

By enrolling in this course, you’ll accomplish these six primary learning objectives:

  • Understand and practice a four-phase developmental learning and teaching process. Sounds complicated? Not within our course!
  • Learn to facilitate experiential activities that incorporate each of these four intercultural phases into your own e-learning programs.
  • Understand why and in what ways on-line learning has evolved in the past two decades. We don’t have all the answers, but we have enough of them for you.
  • Understand the role that various innovations—including peer learning, blended learning and flipped classroom models—play in a recently developed e-learning program that is now in wide use in countries around the world.
  • Explore a variety of approaches for assessing e-learning.
  • Design a new, or learn to adapt an existing, e-learning program for your own students.

Register now

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