outputs of the Project
The partners of the project has produced five different outputs for promoting intercultural competences. The outputs have targeted mainly for facilitators and teachers for enhancing intercultural learning.
ln this page you can find a short description of each output and via the link below you can enter into one output for getting deeper understanding of it.
A Theoretical Framework of Intercultural Learning
- various theories and models of intercultural learning
- the importance of developing intercultural competences
- moving towards collective learning
Arts Based and Action Oriented Methods for intercultural learning
- why arts based methods work well in this context
- instructions of different kind of methods and single exercises
The Guidebook for Teaching Intercultural Learning
- all outputs collected
A Community of Practice ?
One of the outputs of the Spaces for Intercultural Learning project is a compact manual to sketch and guide the potential ways in which a community of practice can be considered and developed as a tool for reflection within your own setting. You can access it in the final guidebook , in chapter 3 to be precise.
The chapter outlines what a Community of Practice (C o P) is , namely a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. Following a section on the rationale behind a C o P, and how to design and implement a community of practice, the chapter continues with a summary of the experiences and novel insights of the project partners in an internet-based community of practice specifically dedicated to intercultural learning. A concise collection of statements gathered towards the end of the project as well as a bibliography conclude the chapter.
Here is a brief introduction for you to get an idea to what extent a C o P could be interesting in your context.
Why Communities of Practice ?
Communities of Practice have been identified as an interesting means to connect people and share knowledge across silos and (professional, geographic, or organizational ) boundaries and borders. Thus it can reduce professional isolation, as it provides a shared context for people to communicate and share information, stories and personal experiences in a way that builds understanding and novel insights. A C o P enables the members to capture and share existing knowledge to help people improve their practice by providing a joint space (virtual or face-to-face) to identify solutions to common problems, as well as identifying and discussing (and perhaps even creating) best practices. C o Ps enable dialogue among not only like-minded but also diverse people, to explore new possibilities and facilitate innovative steps. Communities of Practice also stimulate self-reflection , strengthen understanding of the practice and in doing so build further professional competencies.
A tool for reflection
In this complex day and age, given the opportunities of the internet and the social media tools now widely available to all, and given the increasing need for the sharing of knowledge on an international scale, communities of practice online (or blended) can provide educators (in various places or in dispersed teams) with a potentially valuable means (or space) for reflection, and as such provide opportunities for lifelong learning in a more or less informal way.
Especially when it comes to developing intercultural competences and intercultural learning, research has shown that this cannot be done in a short space of time; in fact it is a lifelong process (Deardorff, 2009). Sharing experiences and dilemmas among similar practitioners, as well as reflecting on (sometimes bewildering) intercultural encounters through a community of practice is a valuable activity. This may also result in getting into the habit of reflecting on your own actions and constructing meaning and novel insights from those experiences, much in line with American philosopher of education John Dewey who said “We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.” What all this amounts to is: a Community of Practice has the potential to develop intercultural learning and intercultural competence through reflection, especially in case of an international Community of Practice.
Experiences from an online community of practice
The five different Erasmus + project partners applied the concept of an online community of practice as a tool for reflection on intercultural learning in between the transnational meetings. These are some of the statements that were collected towards the end of the project as answers to the question: what is it that you have learned in the virtual Community of Practice ?
What I have learned in the Community of Practice is the power of reflection – how reflecting can enhance our work, enable better communication and collaboration.
I learnt that a Community of Practice is a good opportunity to create a safe platform for the exchange of ideas, to communicate between participants interested in learning, developing personal and professional development, being active, involved, motivated and interested.
I learned about non-hierarchic learning between colleagues; it’s a way to share knowledge and expertise to become smarter.
I have shared and read articles about various topics, these topics have driven me to research various authors or theories that were new to me, it has deepened my knowledge of learning theories. I have learned different connotations from using theories, as well as different activities in terms of building and developing my intercultural competences. And I have learned how difficult it is to communicate among partners.
What I learnt from the Community of Practice is, how hard it is to get people involved, how important trust is for some people. Also how important a common language is, since incorrect English can make for incomprehensible messages.
…. to think what you should do in different cases, to learn from other experiences, information about important persons and their contribution in what it means, intercultural learning.
Last but not least, the following feedback underlines the value of an (online) community of practice:
“I enjoyed having a space to share with other practitioners as often community educators do not have peer learning networks to grow from”.
So what were the success factors of our virtual C o P ? Here are some tentative answers: open dialogue, attentive “listening”, a constructive attitude, recognition of each other’s contributions, focus on high value, active (joint) nurturing of the community, joint decision processes (logistics/organisation/scheduling), providing a sense of ownership (by taking turns in leadership), variety, a regular rhythm and going with the flow. Plus, let’s not forget: the allocation of time for each community member !