``Fall Program: Visual Ethnography'' -- A Case of Remodeling Cultural Exchange Program into an Academic Virtual Mobility


For more than a decade, virtual mobility functioned as an add-on to a physical mobility and served as an inclusion strategy for Higher Education Institution in providing equality for diffable students. However, it has become the foremost option in time of the Covid-19 pandemic. This article describes the author’s effort of remodeling the physical cultural exchange program into a credit-based virtual mobility. The aim is to provide an international constructive learning process of capturing students’ own as well as other customs and ways of life into a video or photo collage using Visual Ethnography methods. The program was attended by 51 students coming from 6 countries. They were grouped in 11 small groups for which each was assigned a supervisor. In this program, the virtual and distant learning techniques were combined for delivering lectures, while blended learning technique was applied for live sessions. Participants’ discussion and collaboration were mediated through agreed ICT-based tools within the group. In addition to lectures, a synchronous Focus Group Discussion (FGD) was held once a week to monitor student tasks and progress on their final project. The assessment was based on participants’ engagement throughout the program and performance on completing the assigned tasks. The drop-off rate achieves 18% in which participants from Timor Leste contributed the highest rate due to the Internet connectivity issues.

Keywords: virtual mobility, visual ethnography, multidisciplinary distant collaboration, intercultural setting

[1] Valtins K, Muracova N. Virtual mobility for students, going from distance learning to live participation. Periodicals of Engineering and Natural Sciences. 2019;7(1):222– 227. http://dx.doi.org/10.21533/pen.v7i1.373

[2] European Students’ Union. Internationalization and mobility policy paper [Internet]. Brussels, Belgium: European Students’ Union; 2021 Nov 2 [cited 2022 Apr 13]. Available from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED597749.pdf

[3] Bušelić M. Distance learning – Concepts and contributions. Journal of Oeconomica Jadertina. 2012;2(1):23–34. https://doi.org/10.15291/oec.209

[4] Fidalgo P, Thormann J, Kulyk O, Lencastre JA. Students’ perceptions on distance education: A multinational study. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education. 2020;17:18. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-020-00194-2

[5] Otto D. The challenge of virtual mobility: Pedagogical models and good practices. INTED2018 Conference Proceedings [Internet]; 2018 Mar 5–7; Valencia, Spain. Spain: International Association of Technology and Development (IATED); 2018 [cited 2021 Dec 27]. 3368-3376 p. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/inted.2018.0651

[6] Henderikx P, Ubachs G. Innovative models for collaboration and student mobility in Europe: Results of EADTU’s task force and peer learning activity on virtual mobility. Maastricht, Netherland: Erasmus+; 2019.

[7] Vriens M, Beeck IO, Petegem W, Achten M. Virtual mobility as an alternative or complement to physical mobility. 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies [Internet]; 2010 Jul 5–7; Barcelona, Spain. Spain: International Association of Technology and Development (IATED); 2010 [cited 2022 Apr 13]. 6695-6702 p. Available from: https://library.iated.org/view/VRIENS2010VIR2

[8] Tereseviciene M, Volungeviciene A, Dauksiene E. Fostering internationalisation in higher education by virtual mobility. Acta Technologica Dubnicae. 2013;3(2):1–15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/atd-2015-0015

[9] Corbella M, Gonzáz B. Virtual mobility as an inclusion strategy in higher education: Research on distance education master degrees in Europe, Latin America and Asia. Research in Comparative and International Education. 2014;9(1):165–180. https://doi.org/10.2304%2Frcie.2014.9.2.165

[10] Moor B, Henderikx P. International curricula and student mobility [Internet]. Belgium: League of European Research Universities; 2013 Apr [cited 2022 Apr 13]. 3–22 p. Advice Paper No 12. Available from: https://www.leru.org/files/International-Curriculaand-Student-Mobility-Full-paper.pdf

[11] Bijnens K, Bijnens M, Boonen A, Kristensen R, Mendoza A, Michielsens C, et al., editors. European cooperation in education through virtual mobility: a Best-Practice Manual. Heverlee, Belgium: EuroPACE ivzw; 2006. 29–34 p.

[12] Palm M, Pilkington M. Perennial millennials: A viral phenomenon. Executive Insight: Media and Entertainment Analysis; 2016 [cited 2021 Nov 16 ]. Available from: https://www.lek.com/insights/ei/perennial-millennials-viral-phenomenon

[13] Pink S. Doing visual ethnography. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications; 2013.