Case Study Example: The Purpose of Master’s level Modules
Members of one of the eChina-UK projects report how they found a synergistic solution to the differing opinions they held about the purpose of a master’s level module:
Many of our initial discussions were about the purpose and level of learning appropriate for a Masters module, as we had different views. Sheffield thought that the purpose of the module should be to enable the learners to link theory and practice, through reflection on their practice, and thereby to develop perspectives as research practitioners. Beijing Normal University wanted the focus to be more practical, to support the teachers in effective decision-making about using e-learning technology and to develop associated skills in using it. Both partners argued that their approach promoted deep learning. We managed to reach consensus on this by using the bridge of ‘problem-based learning’ – a methodology popular in China as a vehicle for collaborative learning that provides an authentic context for reflective practice, and this has been embedded in the way online Tasks and Activities were presented.
McConnell, Banks and Lally (2007: 184)
It is important to retain a focus on one’s ultimate goals in a collaborative project. However, before one reaches this point, differences in views will invariably surface in any collaborative process. Rather than overriding, neglecting or ignoring such issues, it is important to address them, to identify what the different views are and to try to reach a solution that can accommodate each side and integrate the views of both partners.
Tip: When differences arise in the course of a project, look for different values or beliefs at work. Recognise that creative solutions emerge when apparently opposing values/beliefs are reconciled rather than suppressed or compromised.
McConnell, D., Banks, S. and Lally, V. (2007) Developing a collaborative approach to e-learning design in an intercultural (Sino-UK) context. In H.Spencer-Oatey (ed) e-Learning Initiatives in China: Pedagogy, Policy and Culture. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, pp. 176-187.