What is Virtual Exchange?
Virtual Exchange (VE) utilizes technology to foster intercultural learning opportunities within the classroom through strategic partnerships and collaboration. Thoughtful development of academic projects and conversations between a University of Guelph class and a partner abroad (university, NGO, industry, etc.) allows participants to take their learning beyond the typical classroom environment without having to leave the University of Guelph.
Students will use tools such as video conferencing and online collaborative platforms to share information, learn about each other, and work on projects together. The VE component of a course will complement the in-class discussions and content. Not only will participants gain a broader understanding of the topics discussed, but they will also have the opportunity to develop their intercultural competence.
What is Intercultural Competence?
Intercultural Competence is a knowledge base and skill set that people can use to help communicate effectively across cultures, in various situations. Often, one must start by developing their own cultural self-awareness before they can truly begin to understand the culture of others. VE interactions provide the learning opportunities necessary to develop these skills, as they require communicating, discussing, and comparing and contrasting ideas with others from different cultures.
Intercultural Competence is made up of three main aspects:
- Attitudes: openness, respect, and curiosity to learn about other cultures
- Knowledge: cultural understanding that is developed through interactions and experiences
- Skills: developing effective communication and appropriate behaviours that can be applied to new intercultural situations
Intercultural Competence is an on-going and continuous learning process. Participating in a VE or Study Abroad opportunity is only the beginning, individuals have to work towards developing these skills and be open to the new information (Deardorff 2006).
Why is intercultural competence important?
In today's globally connected world, developing Intercultural Competence is essential. These skills will help prepare students for the interconnected workforce and for navigating our diverse communities. These skills will help everyone to get the most out of their interactions with others and collaborate effectively.
Find out more about Virtual Exchange
Are you a faculty member looking to offer a VE opportunity or a student looking for more information? Below you can find information for your specific needs.
Partners Abroad Looking to Develop a Virtual Exchange Opportunity with U of Guelph
If you are from a university abroad and are looking to partner with a Guelph professor to start offering a joint VE opportunity, please see the tips below:
- Use this link to find information about the different colleges and departments at the University of Guelph to see what types of collaboration could work for you
- Contact the CIP Office so that we can help make connections and suggestions