Two George Mason University professors successfully co-taught the university’s first cross-continental synchronous course with its Korea campus. Global Affairs professors Jihye Lim, located in Korea, and Jennifer Ashley, located in Fairfax, co-taught the first half of GLOA 101, an introductory course for freshmen on the interdisciplinary field of global studies. The course explores the cultural, economic, political, and ecological dimensions of globalization.
For two months in March and April, seventy students virtually attended GLOA 101 at both campuses. Following every lecture, the students were divided into twelve discussion groups, where they had a chance to closely interact with each other and engage with both faculty members. For the final joint class, Lim lectured on the Korean Wave (Hallyu) as a form of soft power, a topic of high interest to students at both campuses. Students were eager to exchange contacts with their global counterparts at the end of class.
“Synchronous online classes with students at Fairfax was a great opportunity for me to interact with students from different backgrounds,” said Hyun Jean Cho, a freshman GLOA major in Korea. “It seems like the Fairfax campus is far more culturally diverse than the Korea campus, and this drove me to be more active during group discussions. This experience made me look forward to the day I will get to experience Fairfax first-hand, preferably in-person instead of online.”
Students in Fairfax also expressed their enthusiasm about interacting with students in the Mason community internationally and learning about different perspectives. “I think the good thing about having a joint class is getting to know more about the program and other cultures as not all students at the Korea campus are originally Korean,” said Darian Lepe (freshman, GLOA major). “One benefit of taking this joint class was speaking with people I might not have had the chance to speak with outside of a setting like this,” said Sabina Khan (freshman, Information Systems and Operations Management major). “I learned a lot about Korea and I enjoyed all the classes.”
Likewise, faculty also noticed the benefits of a collaborative course. “Students were more engaged in class because they were motivated and inspired by each other,” said Lim, assistant professor and faculty advisor in the Global Affairs Program at Mason Korea. “They were curious to know about student perspectives across the globe. To be honest, there were times I was surprised by such varied opinions. It was also a great opportunity for students to meet Dr. Ashley. I was lucky to work with her and learned a lot from teaching with her. Since we have different areas of expertise, this also allowed for richer course content.”
“Co-teaching Introduction to Global Affairs this semester with my wonderful colleague at Mason Korea, Dr. Ji Hye Lim, has been the highlight of my semester,” said Ashley, associate professor of Global Affairs at the Fairfax campus. “In our program, it's important to be able to consider how the same global issue might be viewed differently from another part of the world. Our students had the chance to practice that skill every week. After more than a year of dealing with the pandemic, so many of us are eager for new experiences. This course provided a virtual trip each week, allowing us to learn a little bit about the everyday lives of our peers on the other campus.”
After their successful co-teaching experience, Lim and Ashley are discussing creative ways to strengthen the connection between the two campuses. The joint class is now over, but students at the Korea campus have continued access to open office hours with GLOA faculty at the Fairfax campus, including Cortney Hughes Rinker, director of the Global Affairs program at Fairfax.
Mason Korea’s campus dean, Robert Matz, also recognizes the benefits of providing a cross-campus synchronous course. “What a great opportunity for students in Korea and in Fairfax to get to know and learn from one another. The kinds of conversations this course generated are just what we encourage on our international campus, and we hope to have many more cross-campus synchronous course experiences such as this one.” He added, “Global Affairs studies the key modern phenomenon of globalization, the ever-accelerating interconnection of peoples and nations across the world. This course not only studied globalization but also enacted it, by bringing together students from around the world.”
April 08, 2021