TEACHING INTERCULTURAL PSYCHOLOGY ONLINE - CHALLENGES AND PROBLEMS
In this communication we will present different aspects of the subject Intercultural Psychology that integrates the graduation course of Social Sciences offered by Universidade Aberta - Portugal. This course has several thousands students from continental Portugal and Portuguese islands Madeira and Azores and from many other countries - several European countries, Angola, Mozambique, São Tomé, Cape Verde, Guiné-Bissau, East Timor, Brazil, India, Canada,…
During several years, all the subjects of the different disciplinary areas of the course were taught on a traditional distance education basis - Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Social Service, Political Science and Law. So, the subject Intercultural Psychology, as all other subjects of the course, was taught using this traditional distance education methodology: the student bought a manual on the subject, received formative tests with correct answers to test his/her evolution on the subject, could contact the teacher by email or phone and was submitted to a test at the end of the semester or of the year. In consequence of Bolonha' spirit and orientations a new pedagogic model was implemented in the university. We are now witnessing a change of the theoretical paradigm of teaching as well as the changing of teaching methodologies.
The whole course had been reformulated, namely the annual subjects had been turned into semester subjects, some subjects were eliminated, new subjects were created, the total duration of the course was shortened, the different academic areas were transformed into minors.
In the academic year of 2008/2009 the subject that previously had the duration of one year and has now the duration of a semester will begin to be offered on an online basis, making use of a Moodle teaching platform. This new approach will imply a total re-organization of the subject in different aspects.
The traditional distance education system will be compared with the online system on several dimensions: materials offered to the students, students skills required, time/forms of contact with the teacher, interaction between students, skills developed, methods of evaluation among others.
On the presentation of the online system we will consider several topics, namely: organization of the subject, curricular topics, the selection of the different activities proposed to the students, methods of evaluation - final evaluation or, in alternative, continuous evaluation through three e-folios, and main concerns that were taken into consideration in the design of this subject.
We will also speak about our initial goals and expectations, teacher formation and of the different problems we have to face on the preparation of this subject. As the subject has some hundred students and the use of the platform implies a number of students by tutor not superior to twenty, one of the main problems will be the selection and the formation of those tutors.
The new system is challenging but it could become a too demanding system to teachers that do not have just one teaching subject but several and that accumulate teaching activities with research and other academic activities.
© 2008 Victor Karandashev