The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Teaching the Classics: Promoting Intercultural Collaboration in Asynchronous Humanities Courses

Marie-Anne Visoi, University of Toronto (Canada)


This paper examines specific teaching approaches and online delivery methods that can offer undergraduate students ample opportunities for engaging in intercultural collaboration as they study classic novels of French literature. By maintaining an active online presence through participation in thematic online forum sessions, students can have a deeper critical insight into the concepts discussed in the course and appreciate the value of reading the classics (Calvino, 1986). Based on extensive teaching practice and recent pedagogical research on online learning and teaching, the proposed model for teaching the classics aims to demonstrate that clearly defined guidelines are essential in developing student collaborative skills and promoting higher-order learning. Also, a careful design of the course content will allow students to become gradually immersed in the socio-historical and cultural context of the required readings (Hunter, 1994). In this presentation, several key elements will be discussed: 1) establishing a supportive online environment marked by mutual respect and acceptance; 2) creating opportunities for close reading, analysis and interpretation of authentic texts; 3) designing strategies that connect learners' background and interests with the course content; 4) integrating an Online Discussion Assessment Rubric which measures student online participation and performance in relation to course outcomes (Benson, 2003). A major task in preparing the integration of online forum sessions is to ensure that online discussion etiquette is followed (Shea, 2004). The content and tone of the instructions posted in an online forum can make a difference in whether or not learners choose to participate and collaborate online (Jiang & Ting, 2000). In asynchronous discussions, clear, simple instructions will motivate students to post their contributions, particularly when they understand the value of sharing their experiences with their peers as they make sense of the texts studied and their content. In addition, the instructor's social presence will engage students as they become aware of the importance of the topics to be learned and discussed. By focusing students’ attention on key issues, explaining or illustrating specific points through the use of effective multimedia tools, online instructors will motivate students to gain more insight about the concepts studied, ask questions and share ideas with their peers as they relate course content to their own cultural background and make real-world connections (Wang, 2011).


Keywords: online teaching, intercultural collaboration, online forum sessions, assessment rubric, multimedia tools



[1] Benson, A. D. (2003). Assessing participant learning in an online environment. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 100, 69-78

[2] Calvino, Italo. The Uses of Literature, translated by Patrick Creagh. San Diego; New York; London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1986.

[3] Hunter, J. Paul. "The Future of the Past: Teaching Older Texts in a Postmodern World." South Atlantic Review 59.2 (1994): 1-10.

[4] Jiang, M. & Ting, E. (2000). A study of factors influencing students’ perceived learning in a web-based course environment. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications 6(4), 317-338.

[5] Shea, V. (2004). Netiquette. San Franciso: Albion Books.

[6] Wang, C. (2011). Instructional Design for Cross-Cultural Online Collaboration: Grouping Strategies and Assignment Design. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.

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