Enhancing intercultural understanding using e-learning strategies
Intercultural understanding is a prerequisite for peaceful local and global citizenship, especially in South African society where prejudice and negative stereotypes were previously the order of the day because of official separatism. It is therefore crucial to teach intercultural understanding in South Africa. I report with commentary on a tripartite initiative, between SchoolNet South Africa, the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) and Unisa's School of Education, to implement an Internet-supported education programme entitled ‘Intercultural understanding — e-learning application in education'. The project comprised an encounter in the form of electronic correspondence between learners from five previously disadvantaged South African schools and learners from seven schools in Finland. The objectives of the project included critical scrutiny by learners of the cultures of South Africa and Finland with a view to finding ways of fostering intercultural understanding. Learners in South African schools exchanged messages with their Finnish counterparts online and then published articles on their experiences in an eJournal. Analysis and interpretation of the content of these articles showed that the project obscured rather than improved intercultural understanding.
Keywords: cultural diversity; culture; eJournal; e-learning; intercultural; learners; South Africa
South African Journal of Education Vol. 27 (4) 2007: pp. 655-672
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