Cross-Cultural Contacts (CCC) and Project-Based Learning


Most Intercultural Communication researchers agree: intercultural learning begins with a reflection of one’s own culture – one’s own expectations, assumptions and propensities. Only when we have reached a level of cultural sensitivity are we able to become keen observers of other cultures.


A bit of CCC history: The CCC exchange project* was established on the ILIAS Learning platform of the Berlin School of Economics in 2005 when students in St. Petersburg (FINEC) joined us in Berlin for a semester of experimenting with this virtual communication tool. We had created a number of IC activities designed to be used in a blended learning setting and including such areas as:

  • Cultural perspectives, an introduction to learning about other cultures
  • Cultural dimensions, metaphors, values – researchers in the intercultural field
  • Stereotypes and generalizations
  • Culture shock
  • Culture and the business interface; selected topics

Since then, we have adopted a more Project-Based Learning approach, bridging academic instruction with real-life experience in communicating across cultures. PBL helps students to recognise and develop their skills, interests and goals, while they improve their ability to work in groups, their organisational and communication skills, and their ability to manage their time well. This active holistic method also encourages students to communicate openly, with respect and sensitivity.

2011: At the beginning of this year, with the support of a student team, we are already in the process of taking stock of our project experience and have launched a new phase of communicative learning. Our goals for this year include:

  • adapting existing materials to create a short elearning course in cross-cultural sensitivity/cultural awareness. This may serve as a platform for workshops and courses that encourage learner autonomy, cross-cultural exchanges on the web, as well as English language accuracy practice.
  • establishing a weblog for Critical Incidents (CIs), with work that students have  already presented and documented which can be added to in future. Here we need to develop improved methods for regular documentation of student project work in IC face2face courses.
  • updating all collections, i.e. Cultural Scenarios – Critical incident cases in overseas assignments, Powerful Pictures (Autophotography -F. Brück).
  • experimenting with epartners, i.e. further developing etools such as wikis, glossaries, forums and blogs to encourage more learner autonomy and teamwork across borders.

By the end of this year we hope to offer easy moodle access to these materials for a wider interest group.

Finally, I’d like to thank the jury for their interest, confidence and support of this project.

* partner: Prof. Dr. A. Nabirukhina (FINEC, St. Petersburg/RU); participants: Mag. Diana Miteva (University of Economics, Varna/BU, Mag. Réka Jablonkai (Corvinus University of Budapest/HU), Prof. Dr. Luminita Cocarta Andrei (Al. I. Cuza University, Iasi/RO)


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