29 maart 2006

My experiences with this course blog

On the occasion of a workshop about the added value of ICT in the learning process, I discussed this course blog. I would like to share the conclusions with you:

  • Try to stick to a limited time frame: it keeps the work load (relatively) manageable;
  • There is a clear relationship between the lectures (the so-called contact hours) and the comments on this blog; the more I referred to this blog during lecture, the more students posted a comment;
  • This blog resulted in a gradual gathering of course material, which I considered a convenient way for both me and my students: the students were also able to control (part of) the course contents.

And what about the added value? Well, as far as I'm concerned, the most important added value could be found in the fact that this is a different didactic format. As you are aware, the mixture of different formats is a very important didactic issue.

If you happen to have all sorts of added value to this post, please feel free to add in the comments section (Note: Your reaction doesn't need to be in English; most readers of this blog understand Dutch and German as well).

20 februari 2006

Intercultural communication in Iraq

Though the Intercultural Communication course has been finished, I’ve decided to keep on posting on intercultural matters from time to time. We are living in thrilling times, when it comes to intercultural communication. This has been made clear over and over again (cf. the last few weeks) and it hit me again this morning when I heard an interview with an Iraqi on the Flemish radio.

In plain English the man was talking about the introduction of democracy in Iraq. He was truly disappointed in the way Westerners (and most of all: Americans) had introduced the (Western) democratic principles in Iraq. Iraq, a former leading country in the Middle East, was sentenced to a secondary role, according to the interviewee. Especially over the last few years (since the breakdown of Saddam’s ancient rĂ©gime) the position of Iraq has been weakened, due to Western (American) interference, the man said.

This is all a matter of intercultural differences, he added. He gave a brilliant example to illustrate the differences in communication between Western and Iraqi people: “If I would tell you that you have a beautiful wife, you will probably take it as a compliment. If you would tell me that I have a beautiful wife, I will feel offended and start fighting.”

11 februari 2006

Intercultural alert: religion

I would like to point out a few facts that hit me over the last few weeks.

Fact 1: I watched a late night talk show on the Flemish television, where an actor played the role of a priest, complaining about why people don’t go church anymore. It was clear that the actor was laughing at the (catholic) church. Result: no official reaction from the church.

Fact 2: I watched a hilarious Flemish comedy series on DVD. One of the sections is called: Cooking with Jesus. In a nutshell: Jesus does the cooking, is very bad at it, but gets in touch with the hereafter “for a small miracle”. Result: no official reaction from the church; some Christians felt offended, though.

Fact 3: Some time ago, a Danish newspaper published a series of twelve cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Result: incident between Denmark and the Muslim world as a result of that publication. Danish products are being replaced by local alternatives in Saudi-Arabia.

These three facts (1 and 2 as opposed to 3) clearly show the way people are thinking about and dealing with religion. It’s not just a who-is-right and who-is-wrong case. But the least you can say is that the incident shows that in our global society we definitely have to take care of intercultural differences when it comes to dealing with humour and religion.

09 januari 2006

Upcoming exams

First things first: happy new year to all of you. May health and intercultural experiences may be your advantages for 2006!

I promised to post something about the upcoming exams. Here we go.

Your final result will be covered by three parts:
- Integration task
- Group discussion (exam)
- Short written essay (exam), with the stress on short...

For the exact division of the marks, I would like to refer to your curriculum brochure.

21 december 2005

The Greatest Belgian (2)

According to the French speaking community of Belgium, the Greatest Belgian of all time is Jacques Brel. Actually, he was of Flemish origin, singing in French, living in Brussels.

I wonder whether Brel is really better known abroad than the Flemish Greatest Belgian. Since he performed in France and in most of the French speaking world, I guess the answer will be yes. By the way, Father Damian was third.