As colleges and universities around the globe work to adapt to their institution’s needs, the Covid-19 crisis has illuminated some new opportunities. Augsburg University, a renowned cultural and social justice institution in the USA, chose to adopt the AFS Global Competence Certificate (GCC) to quickly adapt to serving hybrid learning needs. The GCC is a blended learning program that develops tangible global skills essential to live, work, and make a real social impact around the world.

AFS caught up with Dr. Ann Lutterman-Aguilar (pictured below), tenured global faculty and Mexico Site Director for Augsburg University’s Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE).

Photo courtesy of: Augsburg University

Here is how she is adapting by using the GCC, in her own words.

“This fall semester I have been using the Global Competence Certificate (GCC) as an integral part of a 16-week (semester long) hybrid online Intercultural Communication course taught at Augsburg University. When I first took training to facilitate learning with the GCC, I had planned to use it within the study abroad context. However, while I still plan to do that in a post-COVID world, I have found that the GCC works extremely well as part of an online course.

At Augsburg, most of our courses are hybrid online right now. In this case, rather than having multiple synchronous sessions with students via Zoom, I had the students use the time that they would have had for class on Tuesdays to complete 2-3 GCC modules per week, with more in the beginning of the semester and fewer as we are getting close to the end.  I then chose required readings for my Thursday synchronous Zoom sessions that complemented what they had learned by completing their GCC modules that week and having written in the forums. Several male students, in particular, said that the GCC modules were “fun” and provided an easy way to access the content. By having completed them and written in the online forums before class, they came well prepared for class discussions and were able to integrate more intercultural communication theory into the class. A few times we started class with breakout rooms (small group discussions) related to the week’s GCC modules before moving on to discussion of the Intercultural Communication textbook and other required readings.

Since I had never taught a full hybrid online course before, the GCC provided perfect asynchronous material, serving as a “saving grace” for me as an instructor, as well as interesting educational material for the students. Since I was able to read the students’ online forum comments, I was able to identify intercultural concepts that were particularly difficult for them, and then I was able to focus on those more in my Thursday class sessions. For example, when it came to the values of individualism and collectivism, several students had a hard time moving out of their individualistic frame of reference. Therefore, in our Thursday session, I shared some examples from my own intercultural experiences, we discussed some that were written up in their text, and then I gave them additional scenarios to consider in the small groups/break-out rooms. Students from immigrant families in Asia and Latin America shared examples from their cultural backgrounds, and at the end of the class some students said that they hadn’t realized how individualistic they were  but could see how that could lead to tension and misunderstandings in other cultural contexts.

I think that the biggest value of the GCC is that it helps students make personal discoveries in addition to academic ones. I look forward to continuing to use the GCC in this course as well as in other settings.”

Are you looking for ways to address intercultural and personal development in online distance learning? Various adapted versions and customization are available to help your students Global UP! Contact us now.