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Assessing the Impact of Virtual Exchange
Virtual exchange can equip young people with the skills and inclination to deal constructively with difference. How do we measure impact, and why do metrics matter?
About The Speaker(s)
- Francesca Helm - Researcher and English language teacher at the Department of Politics, Law and International Studies at the University of Padova, Italy
- Renee Day - Teacher at Riverside Unified School District in Riverside, California
- Sari Khalil - Participant in 2003 Global Nomads Group videoconference about the Iraq war, 2nd year medical student at Dartmouth Medical School
- Emile Bruneau - Post-doctoral fellow in brain and cognitive sciences at MIT's Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory (Saxelab)
Anna Smith - Director of research and programming for the EXCEL Academy @ New York University
'With virtual exchange, students not only change perception of others, but of themselves': http://t.co/9NJjBrN56A
— DML Research Hub (@dmlresearchhub) February 28, 2014
Access the collaborative document of key points, insights, questions and resources from this session (open to public comments)
Articles, Websites, or Videos Mentioned
- Exchange 2.0 - vastly expanding the number of students who have profound cross-cultural experiences as part of their education
- Video: Students reflect on Virtual Exchange at Georgetown University
- iEARN Research and Evaluation
- Background on the Christopher Stevens Youth Network
- Video: Soliya - Dealing with Differences
- YouthVoices.net - a school-based social network where youth can voice their thoughts about their passions
- Evaluation of the School Connectivity Program (SCP) and the Building Respect through Internet Dialogue and Global Education Program (BRIDGE) [PDF]
Key Questions and Comments
- (05:02) What is it that we see as "success"? What does "success" look like in virtual exchange? What are our goals around virtual exchange?
- (05:47) As a psychological scientist, I'm interested in sustained change n psychological or cognitive biases...these can be changes in affect--how you feel about the other group--or changes in perceptions--what you think about the other group.
- (07:58) In our students, when we have virtual exchanges with those in London, South Africa or India, the students not only change perception of others, but they change perceptions of themselves. They'll talk about how they see themselves in a new light.
- (09:23) What kind of measures can we do? What we've just mentioned are quite complex: perspective, affect...How do we go about measuring or assessing those?
- (15:12) The mind is like a rider on an elephant: the rider is the part of your mind that you have introspective access to, but the vast majority of your mind is like the elephant--you don't have access to it, but it's driving your behavior. This is one reason why 'common sense interventions' might now work: they're addressing the rider, but they're not addressing the elephant.
- (17:22) I'd be interested to see, from across your different projects, what those different means have been for tracking change across your spaces?
- (20:38) I'm taking a look at how my students are performing in terms of reading and writing and literacy. How are they applying those skills in terms of demonstrating their knowledge of history and applying it in a real-time context?...It helps to empower students and give them a voice and design a better future for themselves.
- (24:07) Things like changing in the language, the metaphors used to describe self and others...and then that links to our biases that we might have...Language becomes more descriptive as they see their audience shifting to being an audience that needs more details.
- (27:07) I can give you one example that I saw [Global Nomads Group] working on: they did an exchange regarding students and how their societies approach students who are HIV-positive...I can see a simpler way of evaluating how much they learned from that exchange...just comparing the different points of view that people have in Brazil vs. Texas is enough to make them think more about this...I can see how that would increase the depth of learning vs. memorizing facts.
- (34:19) The numbers of people you have to have for a comparison and control group-kind of study--it's both of an issue of scale as well as the kind of question you can ask to evaluate. As Sari's pointing out, to be able to make the claims, you have to have such a large sample size in both settings, right?
- (36:14) "When you have two groups willing to break down barriers between them, that is success."...I just wanted to hear your thoughts on that, about this idea of success in process--what would that look like? Or are you more interested in those end goals?
- (39:23) Are there any specific tools that are particularly good or powerful for virtual exchanges vs. in-person?
- (42:20) If you're encountering each other virtually, it dials down the anxiety of that first interaction some. And we know that anxiety drives inter-group prejudice, so it might set the whole interaction off on the right foot.
- (45:50) The difference with this particular exchange program for iEARN is that the collaboration is ongoing and the student knowledge becomes deeper--they do more research, they create positive change within their own communities. For example, the civics project is designed to help students figure out a solution to local environmental issues.
- (49:18) Emile, you talked about measuring, over time, the impact. How spaced have you been doing your experiments?
- (52:44) I think what's really interesting about the new generation of programs is that they are really committed to this idea of evaluating from the very beginning. I think if you have a program that starts with the eye of critically evaluating their program, it becomes a tool that helps them innovate.