ONLINE INTERNATIONAL LEARNING COLLABORATIONS: EXPERIENCES OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN CHILE, CHINA, AND THE UNITED STATES
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This study investigates the experiences of undergraduate students involved with cross-linguistic international collaborations using online curricula designed to internationalize geography in higher education. The two primary research questions address the students’ perceived value of international learning collaborations and students’ changes in international perspectives. A mixed methods approach was used, based on a conceptual framework derived from the humanistic geography, social geography, and global education literatures. Undergraduate students in the United States collaborated with their peers in China and Chile using materials from the Association of American Geographers’ Center for Global Geography Education in two separate five-week case studies involving a total of 154 research participants. Pre-trial and post-trial surveys, discussion board postings, reflective essays, and observations, along with interviews and focus groups with a sample of students, comprise the sources of data. Findings suggest that research participants valued the experience although poor communications stymied the international collaborations. While changes to students’ international perspectives are less clear, the research findings contribute to an understanding of the development of an international perspective through international collaborative learning. Influential factors include students’ personal backgrounds, their goals and motivations, and their group, class, school, and national cultures. Hegemonic tensions within these cultures are mediated by the third space learning environment, which creates flexible cultural expectations on behalf of the students. Across all four classes, the majority of students reported that they were more interested in study abroad programs as a result of their international collaborations. This result provides support for strengthening study abroad programs with international learning collaboration projects.