The result of the project is the “UFRUG Magazine” that combines cultural aspects of Chile and the Netherlands under the motto “Unity in Adversity”.
The UFRUG Magazine is the result of an educative telecollaboration Project between second-year students in European Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen (UG) in the Netherlands, and freshmen students in Journalism at the Universidad de La Frontera (UFRO).
ENVOIE (Enabling Virtual Online International Exchange) is an initiative for virtual exchange created by the University of Groningen in order to share collaboration experiences that are supported by technology and research between students of different cultures and who are geographically separated. The UFRO joint the program through the undergraduate program in Journalism.
The aim of the project is to create a product together that has to do with the students´ subjects and in which they would have to bring their cultural and disciplinary perspectives to bear. During eight weeks, the students of both universities have been working online and autonomously, using digital communication tools for collaborative editing of journalistic texts.
The participants in this first version are freshmen students in Journalism and Social Communication at the UFRO, students of the “Bases of Social Science” class taught by Dr. Carlos del Valle, and students of the “Spanish Literature and Culture I: Cultural Representations of the Hispanic World” class of the undergraduate program European Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen. They formed an inter-university group that is focused on the creation of this multimodal digital magazine that treats intercultural and interdisciplinary issues of journalism and literature.
The topics of the articles are for example ethnic conflicts, feminism, the society and culture. These topics have been proposed by the students themselves under the motto “Unity in Adversity” and it has been a learning experience the students value in a positive way.
“We are addressing indigenous conflicts in Spain, Australia and Chile and compare the points of view of the Latin-American and European society. In each country, there are conflicts regarding indigenous people, but in some parts they are confronted in a more violent way and in others in a more democratic way,” Sebastián Neira, who is an UFRO student and developed the article “Marginality in the world. The situation from a global point of view: what do the Catalonian, Mapuche and Aboriginal people have in common?”, stated.
The UFRO student Catalina Sánchez Hidalgo said: “As a work group, we draw on the customs and cultures of our home countries. It was a great experience. In Chile, we got to know the important dates of the Netherlands and there, they were able to get to know interesting aspects of our country.”
Josefina Márquez Correa, who wrote the article “The feminine conquest”, felt that this initiative was enriching and confirmed: “The aim of this article was to compare the reality of women in Chile and the Netherlands by choosing important persons of both countries. The main difference is that the discussion about the role of women is more developed in the Netherlands than in Chile. In 1980, Chile discussed aspects that they had already discussed in the year 1900 in the Netherlands.”
Gerdientje Oggel, academic of the Department of European Languages and Cultures of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Groningen, commented that the main challenge of this activity is to guarantee a balanced collaboration between the students. “Although we obtained good results, we have not been able yet to overcome the challenge of including the learning objectives of the different subjects into the product. We hope that the research and training offered by European initiatives like this one will help to improve the main challenges of virtual exchange,” Gerdientje Oggel said.
The Chilean organizer of this project, Dr. Carlos del Valle, director of the doctoral program in Communication, pointed out that international networks are normally not present in undergraduate education. This is why this experience has been that important. “On the one hand, because of the different intercultural contexts, and on the other hand, because of the group work, especially when it comes to negotiate the interests and, in this case, the topics to cover and the language.”
At the same time, the director of the undergraduate program in Journalism and Social Communication, Alvaro Cuminao, commented that this collaborative work aims at the development of strategies to use technologies in benefit and for the construction of adequate information at the moment of communicating.”