the world on another continent, Swedish students enrolled in a
rhetoric theory course taught primarily by Anders Eriksson and
assisted in project coordination and technology by Eva Magnusson.
Students were lucky to use their newly equipped “Little
Wallenberg Room” as Eva called it, or “The Rhetoric
Room,” a technology classroom replete with plasma screens,
laptops, and web cams, all configured into four collaboration
stations so the students could communicate through cyberspace.
in Örebro’s Wallenberg-like “Rhetoric room
work on laptops and plasmas.
the support of our WGLN grant, our colleagues in Sweden were able
to build a technology classroom in Örebro to match the resources
of Stanford’s Wallenberg Hall. The President of Örebro
University – impressed by the benefits to students, teachers,
the university, and the Swedish educational system – contributed
matching funds to support the technological infrastructure. See
before and after photos here.
funding from WGLN made possible new configurations in teaching
with technology and unprecedented collaboration in the classroom
such that student chat groups and listservs buzz about the practical
and international applications of the hands-on-learning experienced
in WGLN-supported courses at Stanford. In fact, students themselves
have transferred the digital collaboration done in the class to
the virtual realm; there now exists a “Facebook”
group for Cross-Cultural Rhetoric, with student members from not
only Sweden and the USA but also from around the world.
As teachers, we also implemented new uses of technology, including
weekly Marratech conference calls to plan lessons and activities.
These were at 6 am Stanford time, 3 pm Örebro time, every
week. Working together as a team of teachers across two countries,
we focused our winter quarter research methodology on developing
“best practices” for cross-cultural collaboration
in globally distributed teams, placing students in groups with
plasma screens as portals for effective communication and the
productive of multimedia texts. Visit our lesson
plan archive on the Cross-Cultural Rhetoric website.
Teams for Rhetoric Analysis
As we sailed into winter quarter, we adjusted our pedagogy and
our project methodology to facilitate optimal outcomes based on
what we learned the previous quarter, during the Fall
implementation of the project. Specifically, we learned in
fall that students developed greater intercultural competencies
from small group collaboration – when working on rhetorical
analysis tasks with members of both countries – than from
faculty video conference lectures about cross-cultural texts.
Thus, in winter quarter we redesigned our lesson plans to reduce
faculty involvement and allow increased time for collaborative
work by globally-distributed teams to wrestle with diverse interpretations
of cultural texts. Specifically, we decided to experiment further
with different kinds of rhetorical analysis activities
such as analyzing an ad, a website, a musical group’s image,
or a speech. We started winter ready to replicate and push the
envelope in global pedagogy research.
the rhetorical analysis of cultural artifacts, we asked students
to look carefully at ads published around the world. Each team
analyzed a series of advertisements posted on Canada’s anti-smoking
website and targeted at over 20 countries (http://www.smokefree.
ca/warnings/research.htm). Students worked through a lesson
rhetorically analyze ads from different cultural perspectives.
of both rhetorical and cross-cultural analysis questions. The
Marratech technology enabled them to open browser windows for
collaborative viewing, write notes on the white board, use chat
and video conference to communicate, and post their shared writing
on the class wiki. At the end of class, each globally-distributed
team presented their findings to the rest of the groups. We learned
that for some groups, different responses to ads occurred more
strongly along gender lines than as consequences of cultural worldviews.
This was particularly the case for the impotency images related
to cigarette’s harmful effects. But another group argued
that smoking is more accepted in Sweden than in America, and they
found pronounced differences in rhetorical perception based on
cultural backgrounds. The activity was a success!