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Improving cross-cultural awareness and communication through mobile technologies


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Paper presented at mLearn 2008 in Telford, UK (10-Oct). Authors: Adele Botha, Madelein van den Berg (Meraka) and Steve Vosloo, John Kuner (Stanford University)

Published in: Education, Business, Technology
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Improving cross-cultural awareness and communication through mobile technologies

  1. 1. 10.10.08 Improving cross-cultural awareness and communication through mobile technologies <ul><ul><li>Adele Botha, Madelein van den Berg (Meraka) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Steve Vosloo, John Kuner (Stanford University) </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Agenda <ul><li>Digital lives of youth </li></ul><ul><li>Cross cultural awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Research question and methodology </li></ul><ul><li>User generated content </li></ul><ul><li>Findings </li></ul>
  3. 3. Digital lives (USA) <ul><li>Pew Internet study (Lenhart et al., 2007) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>93% of US teens ages 12-17 use the internet (largely for social interaction) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>39% of online teens also share their own artistic creations online, such as artwork, photos, stories or videos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>28% have created their own blog </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>55% have created a profile on a social networking site such as MySpace or Facebook </li></ul></ul><ul><li>67% of grade 9-12ers have a mobile phone (Project Tomorrow,2008) </li></ul>
  4. 4. Digital lives (SA) <ul><li>Only 17% (15-24 year olds) ever used the Internet </li></ul><ul><li>72% own a cell phone </li></ul><ul><li>Nearly half SMS almost daily (Kaiser Family Foundation & SABC, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>MXit (MIM): about 6.5m subscribers sending 200m messages per day (Computing SA, 2008) </li></ul><ul><li>13-16 year olds dependent on mobile phones for comms and social status </li></ul><ul><li>A “social revolution” (Oelofse, De Jager & Ford, 2006) </li></ul>
  5. 5. Participatory culture <ul><li>Technology is increasingly mediating the way that youth around the world communicate, and consume, create and share content </li></ul><ul><li>Technology-enabled youth play a dual producer/consumer role </li></ul><ul><li>Participatory culture (Jenkins, 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>BUT: Increased collaboration and communication through technological advances does not mean improved negotiation skills </li></ul>
  6. 6. Intercultural competence and sensitivity <ul><li>Negotiation: “ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative norms” (Jenkins et al., 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Important because: “culture flows easily from one community to another” and people online “constantly encounter conflicting values and assumptions.” </li></ul><ul><li>Intercultural competence and sensitivity (Lovitt and Goswami, 1999): to “understand the way in which others located in different global contexts perceive, analyse, and produce situated knowledge” (O’Brien, Alfanol and Magnusson, 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>-> intercultural communication </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>“ Successful intercultural communication is a matter of highest importance if humankind and society are to survive.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Samovar, Porter & McDaniel, 2005) </li></ul>
  8. 13. Research question <ul><li>Can mobile phones and the web act as mediating technologies in the development of intercultural competencies and communication skills? </li></ul><ul><li>Increased sensitivity to and consideration for others (Lovitt & Goswami, 1999) </li></ul><ul><li>Not formal research. Qualitative data gathered through ongoing discussions, exit focus groups, digital artifacts </li></ul>
  9. 14. Project <ul><li>5 teens in South Africa (Cornwall High School) </li></ul><ul><li>5 teens in USA (BAVC Summer internship) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Different social, economic and ethnic bkgrounds </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prompts to consider and document culture: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“About me” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“My family and community” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“An issue in my community” </li></ul></ul>
  10. 15. Project <ul><li>Camera phones and blogs </li></ul><ul><li>First: discuss, plan and research </li></ul><ul><li>Phones: capture, upload </li></ul><ul><li>PC: edit </li></ul><ul><li>Web: upload, view, comment, reflect </li></ul>
  11. 27. Focus groups <ul><li>Both groups “learned a great deal about each others' lives and also about their own.” </li></ul><ul><li>They realized how much they were influenced by the diversity surrounding them – be it from traditional family values, the community, peers and simply the times </li></ul><ul><li>Proud of their heritage </li></ul><ul><li>Phones? “Cool, different.” Issues? lighting & sound </li></ul>
  12. 28. <ul><li>“ They were more 'civilized' than I expected. Their interests are European and Westernised.” </li></ul><ul><li>(US teen) </li></ul>
  13. 29. <ul><li>“ I think it’s important to show the many sides of San Francisco to the kids in South Africa because it is a place so full of culture and life.” </li></ul><ul><li>(US teen) </li></ul>
  14. 30. <ul><li>“ I learned how our cultures [US and South African] contrast, and also how they're similar. I think that was my favourite part.” </li></ul><ul><li>(SA teen) </li></ul>
  15. 31. <ul><li>“ The world is actually very small; I suppose we could all have been friends in another time or place. You know they are just like us.” </li></ul><ul><li>(SA teen) </li></ul>
  16. 32. Inclusive approach <ul><li>South Africans explained jargon and Afrikaans terms </li></ul>
  17. 33. Conclusion <ul><li>Self-reflection </li></ul><ul><li>Communication of views and life situations across differing cultural contexts </li></ul><ul><li>Because of comments and responses being traded, a level of cross-cultural negotiation </li></ul><ul><li>Inclusive discourse: South Africans explained jargon and Afrikaans terms -> ”sensitivity to and consideration for others” </li></ul><ul><li>Digital media technologies: cameras, phones, web can mediate the development of intercultural competencies </li></ul>
  18. 34. Thank you <ul><li>Steve Vosloo, Cape Town </li></ul><ul><li>Email </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Blog </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Slides </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>