Implementing International Virtual Elementary Classroom Activities for Public School Students in the U.S. and Korea pp207-218
In today's global society, individuals with an understanding of different cultures that have the ability to apply this understanding to real world problem solving are more likely to become leaders. Preparing students for a global society is becoming a significant part of education. While many international online exchange projects have been conducted at schools to help expose students to the world and experience international collaborations, few studies have focused on both developing intercultural competence for elementary school students and discovering practical ways of implementing a cross‑cultural exchange program into the public elementary school systems as well. This study, International Virtual Elementary Classroom Activities (IVECA), planned to explore how American and Korean students can develop culturally meaningful interactions through asynchronous online communications in a content management system (CMS), Blackboard; and investigate the factors or strategies useful for integrating IVECA into public school curricula. Data were collected using observation and interview methods, and also included reviewing students' journals. The data analysis involved interpretive analytic induction. Findings indicated that IVECA (a) promotes students' intercultural competence; (b) developed their social interaction skills both in the regular classrooms and the virtual classroom; (c) facilitated diverse students' motivations for learning at school; (d) enhanced writing and reading skills; and (e) engaged learning disabled students in the classroom activities. Additional findings from this study indicate that (a) a systematic support system for teachers' technology use and instructional design is necessary, and (b) school administrators' positive perception toward cross‑cultural exchange activities and their coherent connections between state learning standards and IVECA objectives are important. Further considerations are addressed and the different influences of IVECA on the U.S. students and Korean students and its implementation, which takes into consideration such influences, will also be discussed.
Keywords: international virtual elementary classroom exchanges, intercultural competence, cultural awareness, online content management system, technology integration strategies, instructional technology support system