Eileen MacAvery Kane joined South African colleagues Herman Botes and Hendali Steynberg in an intercontinental presentation to an audience of e-learning enthusiasts at Durban University of Technology. Their Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) project “Building Bridges between Cultures” (see previous blog post) showcased the quality and depth of the international educational experience that students can enjoy in a well-designed and skillfully facilitated online space. The seamless way in which the session was conducted, with the challenge of having one presenter thousands of kilometres away in the United States demonstrated the ease with which participants can be brought together for international learning. Herman Botes is Head of the Department of Visual Communication, and Hendali Steynberg a lecturer in the same department at Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa. Eileen MacAvery Kane is a full-time instructor in the Art Department at Rockland Community College, Suffern, New York. Eileen has authored and designed the books Ethics: A Graphic Designer’s Field Guide, East End Stories, Teacup Secrets and the blog ethicsingraphicdesign.org.
The essence of good collaborative online international learning is a seamless continuum between course content and intercultural dialogue. So said Henry Shepherd of the Stephens Initiative in his keynote at the recent COIL Conference in New York. He was referring to an exciting initiative between Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in South Africa and SUNY Rockland where graphic design students had shared similarities and explored misunderstandings between their cultures while creating posters around themes like xenophobia, rising university fees, cyber-bullying and gun control. Hendali Steynberg and her SUNY Rockland colleague, Eileen MacAvery Kane, encouraged their students to produce “video icebreakers” to give each other a sense of the different environments. Says Hendali: “A project with soul where there is so much to learn from each other!” The project points towards future successful joint online classes using graphics as a meeting point.
Posters by South African students (starting top left): Nsovo Manganyi, Nombuyiselo Gogwane, Mafemo Phillimon and Mashie (TUT students, 2015). See more at http://rcc.macavery.com/south-african-students/
Two OER projects are set to revolutionise e-textbook authoring at DUT. Dan Pienaar has already produced a first-year Chemistry textbook that provides students with the most up-to-date information in their field. The Chemistry e-textbook draws on authoritative sources with Creative Commons licensing, thus providing students with the highest quality at almost no cost. Previously, soon out-of-date printed textbooks cost each student over R500. Dr Alex van der Merwe has recently undertaken the authoring of a new Economics e-textbook, also founded on Open Education principles. OERs combine the best of dependable textbook content with local relevance and recent updates. The university is well on its way to becoming a net producer of OERs, rather than merely a consumer.