The E-Learning Intercultural Competencies Boost

Chapter And Authors Information

Fray Martin Martínez

Internationalization of the Curriculum Officer, Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Universidad del Rosario, Colombia

Rafael Alberto Méndez-Romero

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, Universidad del Rosario, Colombia
The E-Learning Intercultural Competencies Boost
From the Edited Volume
Edited By:
Dr. Nicoleta Gaciu
Content

Abstract

The perspective of internationalization in higher education has gone from a commitment to international mobility towards a deep reflection on the impact on student’s learning, involving communication, intercultural and technological skills. The most recent trends emphasize the need for internationalization to promote the insertion of higher education institutions in global dynamics through the curriculum as a central dimension that incorporates a broader range of international areas at the epistemological, cognitive and practical levels. This internationalization of the curriculum (IoC) works in face-to-face and virtual dimensions and is materialized in the transformation of teaching and learning practices. In digital settings, methodologies such as COIL or virtual exchange make the development of intercultural and internationalization skills a reality. Through this paper, the strategies that the digital learning scenarios for the IoC offer to the academic community at the Universidad del Rosario will be exposed. International mobility promotes cross-cultural competencies of students who have the opportunity to a cultural, linguistic and academic immersion abroad, but with the use of technologies, these opportunities are extended and unlimited which is fundamental in universities whose target is the internationalized, open and multilingual curricula. These strategies for e-Learning provide tools for comprehensive and inclusive education and develop skills formally recognized and validated in international programs. With a spirit of mutuality, these practices have aimed at strengthening cooperation from e-Learning scenarios and fostering greater internationalization in teaching and research activities, thus contributing to a much richer quality of higher education.

Keywords

Internationalization, E-learning, COIL, intercultural, competencies

Introduction

Internationalization processes, in regard to higher education, have gone from academic mobility exercises to a reflection on their impact and results in the teaching-learning process of students and teachers. Over recent decades, the need for internationalization to promote the processes of transformation and insertion of higher education in global dynamics has been emphasized (Schoorman, 2000), manifesting itself particularly in the curriculum as a central and priority dimension through the incorporation of a broader range of international academic dimensions at the epistemological, cognitive and practical levels.

In this context of constant transformation, internationalization of the curriculum (IoC) is a clear manifestation of this paradigm shift in international education which evolves over the years and incorporates details regarding its objective, the activities to be carried out, the role of teachers, or the impacts on their profiles and the learning processes of the students.

As an initial definition (OECD, 1996), it was set out that the curriculum, with an international orientation in content or form, aims to prepare students to perform both personally and professionally in an international and multicultural context. One decade later, Gacel-Ávila (2005) proposed that internationalization from the curriculum seeks to update the academic content in the disciplines and innovate the training proposal of the programs to make the global phenomenon understandable while promoting an intercultural and sustainable understanding of human development. Leask (2009, p. 209) added that an internationalized curriculum seeks that students develop international and intercultural perspectives as professional and global citizens by involving them with international research and both cultural and linguistic diversity. Likewise, she set out that “international, cultural and global dimensions should be incorporated in the content of the curriculum, in the learning outcomes, in the evaluation activities, in the teaching methods and the support services for a study program” (2015, p. 9). Later, Beelen and Jones (2015, p. 69), coinciding with Leask, pointed out that this integration must be done in the formal and informal curricula, thereby highlighting that internationalization processes should not be limited to providing mobility opportunities, but rather they should foster national educational environments with intercultural and international learning opportunities in which all students benefit.

In the same evolution of the IoC, although international mobility fosters the transversal and intercultural competencies of students who have the opportunity of cultural, linguistic and academic immersion abroad (Blons-Pierre, 2016), it is essential to develop in universities internationalized, open and multilingual curricula which allow, on the one hand, providing comprehensive and inclusive tools to all their students to develop these same competencies and, on the other hand, formally recognizing and validating these competencies in international students who are in a situation of mobility (ibid., p. 91). In the same area, and with a nuance of digital transformation consistent with the new trends and purposes of educational approaches such as eLearning, one of the latest contributions to the definition of internationalization suggests that it becomes a practice that involves the creation of sustained educational programs or activities enabled by the use of technological tools whose purpose, in addition to training, is communication and constructive interaction between individuals or groups. Although those groups might be geographically separated and belong to different cultural origins, they have common training interests and receive the support of educators or facilitators in their learning and communication processes (Jager, 2019) in full exercise of virtual mobility and exchange.

All of these contributions agree that the internationalization of the curriculum is not limited to incorporating international content or carrying out international mobility. On the contrary, it is a profound transformation that aims to develop an international, flexible and articulated curriculum with a comprehensive training approach that prepares students to perform successfully as individuals and professionals in international contexts.

Although there is still no consensus regarding the nature, types and scope of the activities that promote the internationalization of the curriculum, the trend is for the offerings of training scenarios for local and international participants to become more dynamic, to deepen further reflection, to define innovation of the learning process in globalized training areas and to think about the way new knowledge is developed and what the ideal profile of the student in a globalized world is.

Intercultural competencies, the case of the Universidad del Rosario -Colombia

When it comes to higher education in Colombia, this evolution of internationalization, particularly with reference to the internationalization of the curriculum, has invited universities to think about strategies that involve comprehensive training that is framed in a dynamic, interdisciplinary and globalized context. For the specific case of the Universidad del Rosario, IoC has evolved in terms of offerings, scope, objectives and impact, increasingly involving the significant role of second and third language training, promoting collaborative work strategies between institutions and proposing spaces of teaching-learning in which intercultural competencies are developed with the idea of global citizenship for which the students are preparing themselves.

IoC, as an academic project, began at the University with the clear objective of strengthening innovative, flexible, interdisciplinary and integrative curricular designs of knowledge and learning experiences. These experiences are organized according to the needs, problems and interests of the environment and are framed in the trends, challenges and goals of higher education, disciplines and professions, but from an international and intercultural context (Universidad del Rosario, 2018). The disciplinary and methodological contents of the programs are thus revised to include valuable elements that encourage the development of intercultural competencies without being limited to immersions or international mobility practices.

The commitment of the faculties and schools within the University promoted the inclusion of subjects in a second or third language in the study plans, invited review of the international theoretical references of each micro-curriculum and, among other activities, led each academic program to review the scope and possibilities that existed within the academic cooperation agreements that the institution has. At the same time, and as administrative units such as the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Vice Presidency for International Affairs were consolidated, the scenarios of mobility and international participation of both teachers and students led the University to outline models of both curricular and extracurricular programs so that training scenarios for intercultural experience were not limited to classrooms.

Therefore, and as concepts such as global citizenship and intercultural training were consolidated in the development plans of the University, IoC incorporated valuable elements related to pedagogical transformations, positioning and visibility, educational resources and practices that involved the more active participation of each of the internationalization stakeholders. The international dimension that seeks to strengthen the central function of education, which is to train citizens with a critical perspective and adequate preparation to work and live effectively and successfully in a global context (Gacel-Ávila 2005) was consolidated within the Universidad del Rosario and guided the construction of policies and programs that increasingly shaped the IoC.

In terms of governance, internationalization of the curriculum is a collective and transversal work that requires shared political and academic leaders committed to change and to ensuring success in its implementation and evaluation (Van der Wende, 1997); however, this commitment to collective work must be assumed by the participants and institutions of higher education that promote similar training objectives. Right there, one of the pillars of IoC is consolidated, which refers to international academic collaboration. Teachers and students who were exchanging training schemes and disciplinary knowledge in mobility scenarios motivated the Universidad del Rosario to include these practices in the curricula of the programs, thereby promoting the use of academic cooperation agreements with international partners which positively impact teaching, research and external relations practices. With this in mind, the top management of the University exercises political leadership, establishing objectives, goals and an organizational structure that supports comprehensive strategies in internationalization, while academic leadership manifests itself in the empowerment and participation of teachers, academic directors and the academic management staff that ensures the curricular and pedagogical transformations required.

In this organizational context, the internationalization strategy had defined its vision. It was framed in the institutional mission that it had for the year 2020. According to that mission, the Universidad del Rosario will open up more to the world and will have an intelligent relationship with new allies, it will have a curriculum aimed at the formation of global citizens, will produce high impact knowledge that transcends borders and will have consolidated a highly internationalized academic community. Nevertheless, with transformation scenarios as historic as those of the current health crisis, the University was led to rethink IoC and strengthen actions to improve and create curricular flexibility.

It is precisely in this context that the internationalization strategy is then considered in an integral way within the three substantive functions of the University: teaching, research and transfer of knowledge. Not only related to the institutional mission, but also integrated into eLearning scenarios, the University has expanded the possibilities of intercultural training that promote virtual mobility. It is on this topic that this paper places its emphasis: on the articulation of teaching-learning strategies mediated by technology and strategies of intercultural training from IoC.

Virtual education and eLearning scenarios have become great allies to build a new way of educating. With this transition towards models that are much more digital, the higher education sector had to consolidate proposals that allow the use of digital technologies to continue offering quality educational projects. In this regard, the great challenge for higher education institutions is to enhance educational scenarios with initiatives in the fields of artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, 3D printing and MOOCs among others; and to stimulate institutional management processes with the technological transformation possibilities of autonomous predictive models, machine learning, big data and blockchain, to name just a few. The objective is to encourage the use of technologies that enable educational innovation, but that do not focus solely on disciplinary training but rather integrates intercultural competencies favored by IoC.

According to the survey by the Center for Latin American and Latino Studies of the American University in 2020, fifty percent of higher education institutions claimed to be prepared for virtual education. However, a major concern for UNESCO, expressed in the document COVID-19 and Higher Education (IESALC, 2020), beyond the urgent challenges to attend which involve connectivity and financing, the appropriation and inclusion of virtual tools in teaching models are highly required by the institutions themselves.

In this regard, and in response to the current health crisis, the numbers for digital transformation at the Universidad del Rosario increased. The University has invested 60 billion pesos (approximately US$ 17.1 million) in technological infrastructure in the first semester of 2020 and more than 13 thousand students were served under the remote modality. In the second semester of the year, more than 92% of teachers were certified in virtual courses about teaching in times of transformation. There were a total of 5,039 participants in the workshops to increase their knowledge of pedagogical topics, the basic use of ICT and the management of emotions. During the same year, using the Zoom videoconference system to enter synchronous classes, there were 90,443 class sessions with 2,359,005 participants. The LMS (Moodle) platform used by the university to implement resources and online activities has 57,425 unique users, and the Panopto class recording system has 43,637 classes recorded to date.

The effort made to strengthen the platforms and work strategies in eLearning were very significant and provided the possibility of thinking about IoC opportunities. As mentioned above, internationalization, being an attribute of the curriculum at the Universidad del Rosario, constitutes a process of transformation that seeks to incorporate international dimensions in disciplinary knowledge, the study plans, the learning pathways, the competencies of the graduate, in multilingual programs, in the learning results, in the pedagogical proposal and the evaluation processes; that is, it is a large process of integral transformation of the entire curriculum that aims to promote the integral formation of the student within the framework of a comprehensive internationalization strategy and in coherence with both the Institutional Development Plans and the Individual Educational Projects of the programs.

This internationalized curriculum takes advantage of the digital and educational transformation scenarios that the University has at its disposal to bring international training to all students, partners and academic colleagues who are in different parts of the world and who, without physical mobility, materialize high-quality teaching and research projects that involve the entire academic community. In their implementation, eLearning scenarios have provided the University with opportunities for educational transformation that promote new dynamics in teaching-learning processes, strategies that transcend the boundaries of disciplines to appropriate new and diverse international knowledge, new cultural dimensions and innovative teaching and learning processes. The IoC and eLearning at the University have merged optimal work schemes to achieve their final purpose, which is to support the comprehensive training of students through the development of intercultural skills so that they can act as competent citizens and professionals in a globalized world in this technological age.

One of the main examples and results of the articulated work of the IoC through the eLearning scenario is that of virtual exchange. In this regard, the University follows the line of the EVOLVE project of the Erasmus program, one of the leaders in academic exchanges and international mobility and since 2017 forerunners of collaborative work in technological scenarios and internationalized virtual teaching. For EVOLVE, virtual exchange combines intercultural dialogue and academic and disciplinary knowledge components with the wide scope of existing technological tools.

The primary objective of this type of exchange is to allow a growing number of participants to have a significant intercultural experience as part of their educational process. Therefore, and as a materialization of internationalization of the curriculum per se, this type of activity can be inserted into the curricula of any training program in order to increase the understanding and collaborative construction of academic content and to put into practice the phenomenon of global citizenship that involves a sense of community, cooperative and cultural exchange (Boni, 2011).

Now, this virtual exchange is not limited to exploring knowledge thanks to the contribution of other participants who are connected by means of digital media but, as one of its advantages, it also invites the participants to an exercise of co-construction of knowledge and to leadership in support networks that allow consolidating knowledge, expanding ways of addressing content and actively providing feedback on different work ideas.

Another advantage of virtual exchange is that, in parallel to the development of disciplinary or intercultural competencies, other types of competencies such as digital, communicative and effective collaboration competencies are promoted and can be strengthened in virtual media. The Universidad del Rosario includes an important practice that Purdue University has previously described and in which alongside the previously mentioned competencies many other skills are added: the development of learning and use of foreign languages, assertive communication skills (whether written or oral), media literacy to know and make use of the digital tools available, and the ability to work in a diverse cultural context. In other words, virtual exchange easily becomes a scenario that, in line with the framework of internationalization of the curriculum, facilitates a comprehensive and intercultural training process.

The State University of New York (SUNY) makes a very specific contribution to the field of virtual exchange through its work focused on COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) methodology. In addition to agreeing that this type of exchange encompasses sustainable and intercultural education programs, SUNY has emphasized that this scenario allows students and academics from all over the world to be connected, giving them the opportunity to carry out academic or intellectual work jointly through the use of technological educational means. However, they establish differentiating marks between virtual exchange and other scenarios that, involve the use of virtual tools for academic purposes, which could easily be confused.

The Universidad del Rosario, in its definition of the virtual exchange strategy, also welcomes the differences that Mary Lou Forward and Kris Acheson-Clair pointed out in various webinars in 2020 in relation to other virtual training modalities that are not part of a virtual exchange scenario. MOOCs or other online courses that are massive and open access are virtual scenarios in which many participants converge around a very specific subject; however, the interaction is not as regular and intensive as it is in virtual exchange. Although they can be part of eLearning programs or strategies and involve content that could explore intercultural or multilingual skills, these MOOCs are not in essence an example of virtual exchange.

Although this exchange scenario presupposes a learning space mediated by digital training environments, according to experts, distance training programs are not considered an example of it. In the latter, leadership by the teacher in charge of managing the content and evaluating progress prevails, the courses are not directed by the students nor are they co-constructed in the face of the needs of the institutions. In a virtual exchange, the philosophy of dialogue is followed where the participants are the main recipients and the main promoters of knowledge. This virtual exchange confirms what was described previously as a space for co-construction in which students seek mutual understanding and encourage the co-creation of knowledge, sometimes based on their own experiences or other times based on consultations they have made to feed a certain field or task.

Now, the use of social networks as spaces for interaction between users, sometimes with educational intentions, is not an example of virtual exchange either despite the characteristics of communication and active participation of students. Even when they are in digital environments where their contributions complement or share knowledge, they are not formal training scenarios in which a sustained pedagogy for interaction prevails and they may lose the educational role that is typical of virtual exchanges. For social networks to be educational, they must have a formative and integrated core of educational programs and activities that, being formal or non-formal, can develop skills, knowledge and attitudes to enrich disciplinary knowledge and a human dimension that in turn encourages pro-social behaviors.

The virtual exchange promoted by the Universidad del Rosario is structured not only for the co-construction of knowledge, as has been highlighted, but also to encourage mutual understanding on the part of the participants. This understanding means addressing issues related to identity, empathy, perspective-taking, critical reflection and intercultural understanding that are not often included in their face-to-face, virtual or distance training programs.

A result of the virtual exchange, according to Dietrich and Torr (2020), is that the students engage in constructive conversations in the face of the ontological and epistemological differences between their disciplines or those of their peers, this becoming a key principle of virtual exchange scenarios because understanding and intercultural awareness are not automatic results of contact between different groups or cultures. It is precisely there where the difference lies between these scenarios and those of virtual mobility with which they are also frequently confused. These are not courses or programs offered by other institutions abroad, even though they can be cross-border training spaces that also make use of technological environments and have specific training objectives. They must involve collaboration and inclusive and intercultural dialogue that, according to Eric Mazur (2015), an expert in collaborative learning models, in addition to closing the gap between differences and distances should inspire actions with a formative impact that is consolidated in the relationship through digital tools.

For the Universidad del Rosario, in the virtual exchange scenario at least 3 pillars must be considered to guide its design and implementation. Firstly, it is essential to have high-quality academic inputs that allow the co-construction of knowledge and the exchange of both experiences and knowledge. Additionally, it is necessary to have technological resources that facilitate the interaction of users with meetings or activities that involve both the synchronous and asynchronous work of the participants. And lastly, it is also necessary to have human capital that, as students, teachers or experts, provides ease of exchange, a dialogue between different knowledge and constant feedback for the academic exercise ahead.

The formats that attract the most attention are those that involve topics with a certain intercultural and international impact, so that they attract the largest number of participants, facilitate their mobility and make higher education institutions think about relevance when designing these formats. In a scenario as rich in possibilities as this one, interactions cannot be limited to exclusive topics in a single disciplinary field or to a specific topic that can easily be consulted on a blog or wiki.

The joint work that can be done thanks to the virtual exchange starts from the design that institutions do with their peers abroad to consolidate programs that allow different subjects to be studied jointly with their counterparts from all over the world. In this way, new training spaces can be promoted that nurture their knowledge bases and allow the exchange of points of view when it comes to institutional educational projects. From there the academic work can start jointly and collaboratively.

In this regard, the design of programs or learning scenarios should allow participants to jointly reflect on the contents from a personal perspective in the assigned virtual space, whether it is a virtual classroom, a webinar, group work, a videoconference or a digital platform, to name just a few. It is also recommended to provide participants with international and multidisciplinary academic content related to topics of current interest, from a social or disciplinary point of view; therefore, it is good to provide spaces for collaborative research on the impact of these topics, so that they are approached from different perspectives and an additional attraction is generated by the participants.

In accordance with the above, the Universidad del Rosario includes in its virtual exchange strategy another three pillars on which the design of the scenarios for its implementation is based. These pillars, according to Brown, Lawlees and Boyer (2013), include everything previously described and consolidate in the following points the keys of interaction and training that are required.

Initially, there is collaborative research that involves the educational community in general. Given that the virtual exchange scenarios operate with academic participants from different countries or cultures, it is feasible to provide them with a stimulus or space to achieve a greater understanding of social impact according to the particular subject that each program deals with. Thus, they have the opportunity to improve their analysis and research skills based on their contexts and to participate in a project that encourages them to work in groups, which in turn encourages the socialization of results according to the work methodology that each of them adopts. The documentation, the treatment of the information and the presentation of the results will show how much the subject was appropriated and what impact it generated on the participants. With the results, they can transform their local realities thanks to the global construction in which they were themselves participants.

The second pillar suggests an exercise around academic content documented or dealt with during the virtual exchange. Participating higher education institutions can jointly build methods or curricula for courses and programs they deem necessary and relevant. Collaborative construction favors the exchange of different academic, cultural and interdisciplinary points of view on the same topic and can propose, within the framework of internationalization of the curriculum, a disciplinary and methodological update regarding a certain topic. Additional products of this collaborative construction are virtual campuses, conferences or pedagogical materials that, with their subsequent dissemination in the diverse digital media available for exchange, can feed sources of documentary consultation that contribute to improving the quality of the programs or courses offered and therefore to the positioning and visibility of the institutions.

The third, and perhaps most important, a pillar in the design of virtual exchange scenarios is that of dialogue among participants. These environments, which can be debates, discussions, feedback or seminars, are organized by facilitators who, trained for the task, aim to make the participants reflect on the contents from their perspectives. Here, whether synchronously or asynchronously, diversity and experience greatly enrich the reflective and formative process of each participant; therefore, within the comprehensive training scenario one listens and learns from an otherness that has perceived a particular topic from its particular knowledge adapted to their cultural context.

The above pillars for the construction of academic scenarios in virtual exchange give the freedom to offer partners or academic peers abroad the content that they make available to participants from other institutions. Participants can have free navigation in courses offered by different universities in order to strengthen their training process and pluralize it thanks to their exchange.

It is with the analysis of the previous foundations that the Universidad del Rosario has structured its eLearning work scenarios for IoC and defines training areas that feed the current academic offerings. These scenarios have been conceived taking into account three different fronts: the contexts and needs of the institutions or partner organizations of the University, the academic community that as students, teachers or researchers can make use of this type of training strategy, and the need to attend to those spaces using a virtual methodology due to the social or global conditions that must dispense with physical environments for face-to-face training meetings.

Some of these work scenarios are global classrooms, eMobility and online international certificate courses. The first ones are conceived as integrated cooperative learning courses covered under the COIL methodology that the Universidad del Rosario has already implemented successfully. The global classrooms seek to favor online training environments based on collaborative learning enriched with the international academic experiences of their participants.

These courses are designed jointly by two or more teachers from different institutions and seek to address thematic content that although specific allows a disciplinary approach from the experience possessed by each of the institutions, enriching its understanding and application according to the needs for which it is worked with. Although the courses are designed in a collaborative way, their tutoring or accompaniment can be done from only one of the institutions if they so decide, since the participants will have scenarios for interaction to work on and achieve the objectives set and the synchronous or asynchronous presence of the teachers of each institution is not required on a permanent basis.

The global classrooms have within their design an endowment of resources available in the selected learning environments (platforms, virtual classrooms, among others) through which participants are invited to make use of different tools for content discussion. The courses are designed with a view to expected learning outcomes that, according to the subject, may range from short modules to full courses whose duration can be similar to that of a regular academic semester.

One of the great advantages that global classrooms present is that they are not limited to exclusively meeting the scope of the objectives set by the participating institutions; instead, depending on the learning needs previously identified by the course facilitators and respond to the rhythm of interaction that the participants have internally, they can generate research exercises between the students and the teachers who have designed the global classroom. In this way, both disciplinary and research projects are co-created so that they can exceed compliance with the deliverables requested by the course, thereby strengthening the very essence of collaborative work. These courses, in addition to integrating participants from different institutions, can also integrate interdisciplinary work, since a specific content may not necessarily be approached from the same area in each of the institutions, a fact that further enriches the experience in the global classrooms. Regarding eMobility, this scenario meets the needs expressed by a university partner in a more specific way in terms of academic offerings and allows free courses or short-term international experiences to be made available.

In agreement with the partners, these courses can be validated for credits depending on the number of hours, the type of academic work and the inputs that are eventually generated. Although these international academic experiences are generally considered training spaces in which participants attend to very specific topics for short periods of time, these spaces can give them the opportunity to make virtual visits or hold online discussions with experts and academics that enrich the training process. Considering their short duration, these courses offer a very specific scope of thematic exploration and respond to scenarios in which they seek to solve a particular problem through projects that can even feed other academic areas. The offerings of this eMobility allow members or participants to take free courses in which they wish to increase their knowledge without committing to a long-term program and without limiting the structure of the prerequisites.

Regarding the online international certificate courses, the Universidad del Rosario currently has an active offering and an important trajectory that in digital media, through the use of virtual exchanges, seeks to expand online workspaces including new courses, new topics and new content of high relevance to the international academic community. The certifications are structured through regular remote access courses and virtualized courses currently offered by both undergraduate and graduate programs. Some of these courses are carried out in the University’s high-tech equipped labs, as classrooms provided with a robust set of technological and didactic tools favoring the development of virtual or remote access training areas.

The deployment of the entire strategy brought with it very positive virtual exchange numbers. Just in 2020, there were 148 students doing incoming virtual mobility, mainly from Europe and Latin America, and 117 outgoing with the same destinations. 22 online international certificate courses were formalized with innovative topics in various areas and 14 collaborative work experiences were carried out through global classrooms and the COIL methodology.

Based on the various work scenarios described, on the virtual exchange strategies fed by eLearning components, and as a result of these institutional IoC practices, it is pertinent to specify that for the University the internationalized curriculum is a pedagogical proposal centered on the student because it promotes active and autonomous learning that is enriched by international collaborative work experiences and dialogue in diverse cultural settings, in person or virtually. This type of learning has a positive impact on retention and student success because it offers new content and innovative strategies that engage the student, both academically and socially, in the learning process (Thomas, 2008). Likewise, the internationalized curriculum is a means of inclusion and a question of equity because it gives all students the opportunity to develop distinctive knowledge, skills and attitudes for life and work in a globalized world.

“A good international curriculum must be oriented towards social transformation, rest on the constructivist principles of learning, have an interdisciplinary content and echo the different modes of social representation” (Kerry Friedmann, cited by Cañón, 2009. P. 2). This definition includes the approach to active learning in education, adopts the paradigm of the knowledge society in terms of its usefulness and relevance, and shows the need for interculturality where knowledge is not universal but cultural and the value of interdisciplinarity solves real global problems (Cañón, 2009).

These changes indicate that the curriculum is an academic project that trains people in three domains: the domain of knowledge, the domain of action and the ontological domain (Barnett et al., 2001), and it is a challenge to change the perception that the curriculum is limited to its formal components, such as the content, for one in which the curriculum is fully developed in all its expressions (official, inaction and hidden).

Conclusion

In conclusion, we recognize a special value in promoting strategies that strengthen internationalization and intercultural competencies so that the experience of the students at the university takes into account a panorama where we all fit, that is, where they recognize themselves as members of a great network of individuals with different readings of the world. This openness to diversity supports and prints rigor in collaborative learning, closely related to one of the paths of our university: that of learning to learn. Strategies of this type, without doubt, positively impact the curriculum (heart and engine of the academic management of university programs) and respond to the institutional strategic plan (Universidad del Rosario, 2019), with internationalization being one of the great goals. The technology that transforms teaching and learning practices into eLearning scenarios (materialized in COIL strategies, for example) opens us up to the world and connects our students with other peers from other cultures.

Also, and very focused on the social function of our institution, these collaboration strategies (which transform the curriculum) have fertile ground in Colombian rural regions. We have strengthened strategic alliances with other institutions, preferably smaller ones (some of them with serious problems of support from the government, in the case of being public institutions), acting as an anchor university that supports and generates significant synergies for the construction of new collaborative academic products, as COIL tells us, but this time in relation to these regional allies. We believe that these initiatives have a positive impact on the curriculum and provide a portfolio of academic products with initiatives that aim to strengthen social justice in education.

Acknowledgement

This educational innovation was possible thanks to the collaboration between different central offices of the Universidad del Rosario, especially the Vice Presidency for International Affairs and the Office of the Vice Provost of Digital Education.

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