CULT: Cultural Understanding through Learning and Technology
CULT aims to create a cooperation platform for remote and rural schools in Europe using information and communication technologies. It seeks to improve teachers' and students' ability to adopt and adapt new media and enhance their learning challenges
In rural communities, schools are often split between buildings in several villages, at a significant distance from urban centres. The schools have low enrolments and few teachers. Students may be disadvantaged in terms of communication and cultural exchange opportunities.
Due to the limited cultural diversity and the geographical setting of rural schools, students may lack encouragement in social skills and challenges in learning abilities. Several European Commission (EC) programmes focus on cultural exchange actions within educational settings (e.g. Comenius, eTwinning) and have created Web-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools required for the exchange.
The main motivation behind the CULT research project concerns the viability of distant communities and whether technological support could make everyday life in remote areas as engaging as life in urban or centralized areas. Could communication technologies, guided by a user-centred interaction design approach, overcome the distance barrier and help build up remote partnerships?
CULT uses familiar as well as new ICT tools to ‘bring together’ distant and sparsely populated school communities. Thus, it aims to:
- increase the total number of perceived class participants,
- stimulate communication between different cultures,
- enhance learning challenges for the students.
CULT takes advantage of students’ familiarity with contemporary entertainment and telecommunication technology, such as mobile phones, TV, online video, online social networking, video games, virtual reality, and multi-touch displays. It aims to stimulate the positive use of these established and familiar technologies. In addition to the use of ICT as a tool, we are mainly interested in the use of ICT as a medium.
Coordinator: Ionian University, www.ionio.gr/central/en
Target groups: college students, education authorities, general public, industry, researchers, secondary school students, teachers, trainee teachers, university students, university lecturers
Start year: 2009
End year: 2011
Contact person: Konstantinos Chorianopoulos chok (at) ionio.gr
The aim of CULT is to study, design and inform the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for teachers and students in rural schools. The research carried out is more applied than fundamental, as the schools have a need for immediate and simple technological support.
The connectivity of distant communities could be reinforced through local media technologies (e.g., WiFi, Bluetooth, public screens), which lend themselves to shared experiences, such as content sharing and collaborative interaction.
CULT builds on the design aspects and the longitudinal evaluation of a communication system that brings together the geographically distributed community (students, teachers and administrative staff) of secondary education institutes that participate in eTwinning activities (http://www.etwinning.net/).
There is a significant body of related research, but no integrated approach. Previous academic research has not been evaluated either with casual users in public spaces for prolonged periods of time, or in remote places. The most interesting effects of distance communication systems on the everyday life of remote communities, such as social identity, social awareness, and civic participation, have not been documented.
CULT aims to deploy an ambient and social interactive video platform (physical installation, authoring tools, interactive content) that is easy to use e.g. by mobile phone, touch and gesture interfaces, and that supports social communication.
In particular, CULT focuses on a systematic longitudinal evaluation of the social effects of the media communication system on casual users. In addition to the foreseen benefits for the local community, the outcomes of CULT could have wide applicability in similar community establishments that operate over a distance or in distributed organizations.
CULT organizes several small-scale workshops aimed at local researchers and teachers.
The research results are available at http://cult.di.ionio.gr/publications
CULT uses familiar as well as new ICT tools to ‘bring together’ distant and sparsely populated school communities. The participating schools receive a project kit with information and equipment for joining in distant cooperation with other schools. CULT also organizes several small-scale workshops aimed at local researchers and teachers.
CULT supports the following principles:
- CULT aims to increase opportunities for learning rather than to improve existing learning practices and outcomes. Learning is the interest in and the practice of a process rather than an outcome.
- CULT is mostly interested in existing user technology and off-the-shelf components which the communities can maintain by themselves.
- Most technologists and an increasing number of educators regard ICT as a solution to an educational problem, or promote it as such. By contrast, CULT takes into account the problems in using ICT and concentrates on helping teachers to arrange ICT optimally for their needs.
- CULT supports cross-curricular use of computers and ICT. Teachers of non-IT subjects may realize the educational advantages gained through ICT when/if computers become second nature to them as well.