4.1 The importance of intercultural communication in Open Education

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Open education is directly connected with international experiences in higher education. On the one hand, internet-mediated communication extends the opportunities for intercultural interaction to a greater number of students (Villar-Onrubia & Rajpal, 2016). On the other hand, the internationalisation of higher education facilitates the implementation of open digital practices.

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 It is a virtuous circle. International experiences prepare for the incorporation of Open Educational Resources, and the incorporation of OER contributes to the internationalisation of university studies. However, in the opposite direction the disconnection and the barriers to innovation reinforce each other.

3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Therefore, intercultural communication skills are important in the promotion as well as in the implementation of open education.

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Intercultural communication skills

5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 Intercultural communicative skills is the set of cognitive, affective and behavioural skills that serve to manifest appropriate and effective behaviours in a specific social and cultural context. That is, skills that allow effective communication in intercultural settings.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Previous research has identified a set of eight core competencies that define culturally competent individuals. For an individual to handle well in intercultural relationships it is necessary to have (a) adequate knowledge of the cultures in contact, (b) cognitive skills to develop positive interpersonal relationships, and (c) problem solving and relationship building skills (Maya-Jariego, 2002; Maya-Jariego, Holgado & Santolaya, 2006). The eight competencies are summarised below.

7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 8 Skills for effective intercultural communication

Skills Definition
Understanding of the other culture Having a good knowledge of the values, beliefs and ideology of the other culture allows adequate attributions of the behaviour of its members. In addition to the specific knowledge of the other culture, knowledge of other cultures in general may also be useful.
Understanding of one’s culture There is a relationship between the level of knowledge of one’s culture and the knowledge that can be acquired over a third culture. It also can help to better face the process of acculturation.
Empathy Cultural exchanges require the ability to adopt the point of view of the interlocutor. Anyway, it is one of the most relevant elements of effectiveness in communication, in general. Cognitive decentralisation and the ability to recognise differences allow adapting to culturally diverse groups.
Tolerance for ambiguity It refers to the ability to cope with complex, unclear and uncertain situations that may arise in intercultural communication. Intercultural relationships tend to carry a high degree of uncertainty and unpredictability.
Cognitive Flexibility Being able to accommodate easily to the circumstances or opinions of others.
Delay the evaluation of the behaviour of others Ability not to evaluate in advance the behaviour of the other. It has also been called “respect for cultural differences”, emphasising its affective component.
Problem solving skills Managerial skills, tasks solving in different contexts, planning, etcetera.
Relationship building skills Ability to initiate contacts, to maintain control over the image transmitted in the interaction, to know how to adjust to the required social distance and to make appropriate use of social support networks.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 The following example illustrates the influence of communication skills:

9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 A Moroccan lecturer teaches individualised tutoring on Skype in a postgraduate course on marketing strategies taught in French for students from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Spain and Italy. The communication develops in general without problems. Despite the national differences, the teacher has the feeling that the countries of the Mediterranean share the same style of open, expressive and friendly communication. Interruptions by the students, which are frequent, are understood as a sign of interest and facilitate clarification by the teacher.

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 A year later, the Moroccan business school decided to open new markets in Asia and the teacher repeated the same course with Chinese students. The teacher experienced some differences in individual tutoring. Chinese students are usually quieter, and they do not ask questions until the teacher completes her speech. She has the feeling that Chinese students are less expressive, it is more difficult for her to interpret nonverbal cues, and she has to make an extra effort of empathy to confirm that the students follow their explanations.

11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0 After this experience, the business school decided to implement a teacher preparation course in which teachers are trained on Chinese culture, communication styles, and effective intercultural communication skills.

Activity 4.1 Analyse the inhibitors and facilitators to adoption of OER at your university

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 1 Here, we summarise some of the facilitating and inhibiting factors for the reuse of open content.

13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0 In the South-Mediterranean region, universities see OER as an opportunity to respond to the problems of massification of higher education, geographic dispersion and accessibility in rural settings. For instance, Cadi Ayyad University (in Marrakech) is one of the largest in Morocco and developed a system of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOC) as an alternative to teaching in saturated classrooms (Idrissi Jouicha, Bouazaze, Ai Si Ahmad & Berrada, 2016). Al Akhawayn University is located in Ifrane (Morocco), in the middle of the Atlas Mountains. It covers an eminently rural area in which students perform community-volunteering services, while they are still connected with teaching activities from small villages of difficult accessibility. Ibn Zhor University (in Agadir) is the educational institution of reference in the south of Morocco, and covers a very large area where digital resources allow long distance training and monitoring.

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 One of the elements that seems to influence the readiness to adopt OER is the degree of internationalisation. Among the most receptive institutions are business schools and universities with a hybrid organisational culture, such as German-Jordan University or The American University in Cairo. In the same way, the participation in joint and dual degrees seems to predispose positively to the incorporation of innovations: The Princess Sumaya University for Technology (in Jordan) has had some experiences in this regard. Similarly, in Palestine the concentration of international cooperation projects has generated competencies that facilitate the adoption of innovations.

15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0 Question

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Make an analysis of the inhibitors and facilitators to adoption of OER at your university. For example, suppose that lecturers at your university want to use educational materials from MIT, Coursera or Edraak, and incorporate them into their teaching. Fill in the following table with examples illustrating the context at your institution. Optionally, write a brief qualitative report informing of strategies to localise the educational materials.

Dimensions Inhibitors Opportunities
Technological equipment
Attitudes towards Open Education
Digital competences (knowledge and skills)
Institutional factors
Language and local relevance
Cultural characteristics

17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0  

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