Co-constructing intercultural communication competence through an online cage painting simulation and scenario repository: A theoretical perspective
Gibson, Kay L.
Rimmington, Glyn M.
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Alagic, M., Gibson, K.L., and Rimmington, G.M., 2006, Co-constructing intercultural communication competence through an online cage painting simulation and scenario repository: A theoretical perspective in Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Intercultural Communication Competence: Learning and Teaching Across Borders (LTB): Ahmedabad, India.
Increased migration and international travel, the connectivity and information access provided by the Internet, and reduced trade barriers are some characteristics of a world that we refer to as being borderless. The world has become flat according to Friedman. Individuals and companies that can function in global supply chains and collaborate internationally will have a competitive edge. In such a world, the need for improved Intercultural Communication Competence (ICC) is heightened. Leaders in industry, government and the community, along with accreditation agencies, are demanding that students graduate with the competence to communicate and collaborate in a highly interconnected and interdependent world. Maintaining ICC requires lifelong learning strategies that are grounded in ongoing research. The Cage Painting Simulation (CPS) game, which has emerged from Global Learning research, facilitates the conceptualisation of such strategies. The CPS prototype presented the learner with a series of scenarios in which they interacted with Simea, a synthetic character of unknown culture to achieve a collaborative goal. Within a scenario, the learner would choose discussion contributions. When the learner chose contributions incorporating cage painting, aspects of both Simea 's and the learner 's perspectives were revealed. Correct choices led to a solution for the particular intercultural misconception. The CPS prototype provided scenario-based learning experiences that helped learners to conceptualise implicit ICC strategies. Learners ' performance was defined as the increase in slope of learning trajectories for a sequence of scenarios. Over the past year, study of this performance has resulted in the articulation of specific cognitive and metacognitive strategies that have become explicit design parameters for the full version of the CPS. This approach differs from others observed in the literature, because it incorporates dialogic co-construction of intercultural communication understanding within a virtual environment. Furthermore, the simulation is based on a cognitive apprenticeship method within a situated learning environment, second only to global learning as a means of preparation for developing multiple perspectives between participants of different cultures. Indeed, this simulation supports a new epistemology of learning that emphasizes active perception and mindfulness. In trials of the CPS prototype, computation of the learner 's performance was complicated by the differences in complexity of the scenarios. The underlying structures of scenarios in the CPS prototype had variable and irregular form. These characteristics were a confounding factor, when computing the learner 's performance after completing the scenarios. In the full version, adopting a modular scenario template with a regular structure has eliminated this confounding factor. In designing a modular scenario template, consideration was given to the following: (a) four steps corresponding to the four levels of Cage Painting, (b) scaffolded feedback for three levels (Good, Mediocre and Bad) of the learner 's choices for contributions to the dialog, (c) scaffolded responses by Simea to these same levels of choices, and (d) modelling of the ICC strategies by Simea. These ICC strategies, surfacing from cage painting, are our contribution to intercultural communication heuristics. The CPS is designed so that its implementation follows a learning cycle that begins with the learner reflecting on an intercultural misconception that they have experienced. Then the learner participates in some virtually situated intercultural exchanges with Simea and subsequently designs a new scenario that deals with overcoming an intercultural misconception. The learner progresses from reflective observation to concrete experiences in a virtual environment, and then to active experimentation in designing new scenarios that lead to abstract conceptualisation of the ICC strategies. The full version of the CPS will be available online for learners both to play scenarios and to add new scenarios to a searchable repository. In this way, the CPS simultaneously constitutes a teaching, learning and research tool for improving ICC in a borderless world.
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