Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Intercultural Dimensions of the Multimedia Classroom

Date: February 21 - 23, 2005
Organizers: Uta von Reinersdorff (Bielefeld), Peter Freese (Paderborn)

The symposium on Intercultural Dimensions of the Multimedia Classroom dealt with the interdependence of intercultural and multimedia aspects in modern language learning / teaching environments. According to the results of the symposium, such aspects can effectively link cultures on both the informational and the emotional level in various forms of authentic exchanges. New instruments for exchanging ideas, i. e., the Internet and hypertext structures, generate their own innovative modes of reading, learning and information processing which develop rich patterns of memorization by addressing a variety of channels in the learner. Learning techniques have increasingly and effectively become more visual because mental images promote storage of capacities and competences in the long-term memory. Rich intertextual cross-references, which can easily be gained with the help of multi-layered reading techniques fostered by certain types of Internet research, allow for a broader and more comprehensive understanding of socio-historical and intertextual references found in learning items. Interculturally oriented projects, which enable a transcultural exchange of pupils via electronic media, achieve a higher degree of spontaneity and authenticity which allow for more learner autonomy and spark off both an intrinsic as well as an extrinsic motivation. They allow pupils to open up to the perspective of other cultures more easily and naturally than is possible in an ordinary, more didactically oriented, classroom context. A combined textual / visual approach with an emphasis on dynamic pictures as in films or computer-animated websites has proved to be particularly successful for systematizing and for storing information. The emotional factor plays an important part in multimedia learning processes. Cultural competence can develop most smoothly if common factors of cultures are emphasized. Concrete relationships and practical contexts are important to develop an in-depth understanding of the 'other'.

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