Collaborative Student-Empowered Cross-Border Projects
Liisa Wallenius, Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences (Finland)
Julia Huisman, Stenden University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands)
This paper compares two cross-border projects at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, Finland, and Stenden University, the Netherlands. The aspects compared and discussed are student commitment and learning; course and project management, and instructor practices and collaboration. The objectives of both projects were learning competences for international project work, online collaboration via online communication, improving project work and research skills and improving cross-cultural and communication competence. The projects were implemented within courses of international communication and Business English, and the pedagogical methods were inquiry- and problem-based learning. The projects were led by students and student managers. The pedagogical objectives were to learn new ways of learning and to shift class room management practices and create a business environment for students to conduct a research.
The data for the comparison is collected in student diaries, questionnaires on learning, reflection discussions and self- and peer assessment. Also, classroom observation was used. In both the projects quantitative research was the main activity managed by student project managers who worked closely with the instructors who administered the course.
The finds show that pre-planning alleviates obstacles of learning, motivation and cross-cultural barriers. Yet learning results are dependent on individuals and their commitment. Guidance and support play a significant role. The project manager approach and leader roles varied from the first year to the next. Also, the instructors changed their practices intentionally which might have resulted in improved opportunities for learning.
To conclude, is obvious that projects may be multiplied to certain extent. Commitment, input and outcome are dependent on each participants’ backgrounds, attitudes and input. Preparation and pre-course information are beneficial, familiarity of used learning practices and cultures alleviate obstacles of learning. Furthermore, familiarity with technology and an open mind toward new ways of collaborative learning enhance commitment and hence learning.