Empowering Study Abroad Students through Online Support

Abstract

Contemporary study abroad research is challenging the immersion assumption and raising awareness of the limited meaningful interactions between local and international students on campus. Many of the common aims of internationalisation are not being realised simply by increasing participation rates in study abroad programmes. To promote constructive intercultural dialogue and help participants become more interculturally competent and independent, more study abroad scholars are calling for research-driven, theory-based intercultural interventions that take full advantage of recent developments in technology (eLearning platforms, social media, internet resources). This presentation provides concrete examples of innovative ways in which eLearning and online mentoring can scaffold and deepen the intercultural learning and engagement of student sojourners while they are in the host environment. After describing an online intercultural transitions course that aims to empower international exchange students, time will be allotted for a review of websites that have been designed to support and extend the intercultural learning of large numbers of student sojourners. This session will encourage institutions of higher education to harness technological advances and draw on recent study abroad research findings to optimise the intercultural development of student sojourners, and help achieve the aims of internationalisation. Interventions can benefit both local and international students.