UVic Torch -- Spring 2006
Spring 2006,
Volume 27, Number 1

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Continued
Global link: Grad students in Computer Science Prof. Daniela Damian's global software development course learn with colleagues from universities in Italy and Australia.

Photography by PROF. DANIELA DAMIAN


The study of 17th-century Italian art could be considered intrinsically world-minded, but History in Art Prof. Erin Campbell sees greater possibilities for the third-year course after attending the internationalization workshop. “In Europe, in the early modern period, there are all kinds of travel, exploration, exploitation on a global scale,” she says. “I’m working on bringing that into the course content.” She is shifting her focus from “very insular, very culturally specific” developments in 17th-century Italy to more cross-cultural developments, such as how foreign travel by Italians influenced the art being produced in their home country.

Meanwhile, Campbell has spiced up the course by inviting three students who recently returned from Europe to talk to the class about art and opportunities for study abroad. “This isn’t just art four or five hundred years ago. You can go and visit and experience this stuff right now. I want to encourage the idea that the classroom is preparation for going out into the world.”

Besides generating excitement about internships, cultural courses and self-directed learning in Europe, the exchange also revealed that many class members were more familiar with the art they were studying than they’d been willing to admit.

The students in Elsie Chan’s statistics courses are also talking about new ideas these days, after Chan attended the workshop and realized that cultural biases can affect statistical surveys. Now when teaching questionnaire design, she challenges her students to consider how respondents from various ethnic communities might perceive survey questions. The ensuing discussions have been “eye-opening” for everyone, says the popular sessional lecturer, who won the alumni association’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2000.

Another change for Chan is an increased commitment to finding out about her students’ backgrounds as a means of fostering internationalized learning. As an immigrant herself—she moved here from Hong Kong at 15—Chan was surprised to realize she’d been disregarding the diversity in her own classroom. “I always talk about how to be inclusive and make sure the international students understand but I forgot that they will think differently.”

While Chan, Campbell, Westfall and others are following Schuerholz-Lehr’s advice to build incrementally toward world-minded teaching, Computer Science Prof. Daniela Damian has already designed an entirely new course.
“Global software development is a very hot topic nowadays and a business necessity,” says Damian, “but our graduates don’t have the necessary skills to be able to work in global teams.” She decided to offer some real-life experience in developing software with overseas partners.

Last spring, under Damian’s direction, 12 UVic graduate students collaborated with peers from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia and the University of Bari in Italy—without anyone leaving home. They were divided into teams and assigned two software projects: in one, they took the client role, and in the other, they were developers. Geographical separation meant the clients and suppliers never met in person and had to contend with time zone disparities, as well as cultural differences and language barriers.

Grad student Luis Izquierdo rates the global software development course as “one of the most exciting courses” he has ever taken. Besides improving his technical skills, he says it gave him valuable practice in working with colleagues in other countries and overcoming the challenges it entails.

Izquierdo’s enthusiastic assessment is typical, says Damian. “The students loved it. They were so excited about learning about another culture and environment and they had so much fun.” And they gained valuable experience that will stand them in good stead when they leave UVic and head out into a world that’s not as big and wide as it used to be. 

World-minded Teaching | World-minded Teaching Con't






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