Although e-learning initiatives are not new to EFIL, the efforts to increase online learning offers have been gradually gaining momentum. “Developing Intercultural Competence through E-learning (DICE)” project is probably the most ambitious initiative thus far in this regard.
The goal of the DICE project is to develop a new e-learning and/or blended learning course addressing those aspects of intercultural competence which can be helpful in facing current society challenges (e.g. polarisation, rise of xenophobia, online media etc.) and which might not be yet addressed by existing AFS tools and curricula. The course prototype is to be developed throughout 2018 by a team of 5 volunteers, supported by EFIL office, which consists of: Marina Saglietti (AFS Italy), Saadet Tas (AFS Turkey), Bojana Ilic (AFS Serbia/AFS Denmark), Alma Dora Rikardsdottir (EFIL/AFS Iceland) and Stephan Winiker (AFS Switzerland). The DICE project team is meeting four times during 2018 – the first time was in Brussels (January) and the second time in Frankfurt (April) – but most of the work is happening virtually throughout the year.
The project is a part of the 2018 Work Plan “ICL in the 21st century – uniting polarised societies”, supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe, and as such is linked to the Expert Meeting (January), Volunteer Summer Summit (July) and Training for Trainers (October). The initial shape and content of the course is a result of the 4-day Expert Meeting which involved a small group of experienced ICL volunteers and staff from EFIL Membership.
The outcome of the Expert Meeting turned out more ambitious than originally imagined. It was recommended for the course to base entirely on participants’ real life experiences of intercultural situations, helping them look at these situations from different angles (such as: identities, ambiguity, power relations, othering, inclusion/exclusion, social impact…). The course will then fill what was perceived as a gap in AFS: conscious, proactive and reflective application of intercultural competences in everyday life, beyond the context of mobility programmes. Consequently the target groups of the course could be very diverse: AFS volunteers or programme participants, but also external groups which turn to AFS for help increasingly often (teachers, authorities dealing with migrants etc.) – the full outreach potential of the course remains to be seen.
The pedagogical approach builds on the principles of non-formal education: experiential learning and interactions between participants playing a central role, with input mainly based on existing free resources online (rather than producing high-tech tools inside the course). Important role should be played by online facilitators who need to be trained for the role.
Altogether, the project is a great but exciting challenge, which hopefully will benefit many learners in the future. Stay tuned for further updates along the way!
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