Intercultural issues in a cloudbased Campus

Which different cultural values and experiences could effect international collbaboration? The Crossmedia Journalism and Public Relations students Rahel Weldemariam and Julian Reitner from the Media University in Stuttgart travelled for a one-week workshop to the Oslo and Akershus university college for applied sciences (HiOA). Goal of this workshop was to create guidelines for the intercultural communication in an online campus, called EMC2 (European Media Cloud Campus).

The university college in Oslo invited lectures and students from their partner universities from Stuttgart, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Istanbul in order to develope these intercultural guidelines.

The workshop was the last one out of 20 and dealed with intercultural issues which could appear during the work in the EMC2 (see description below). The management of the campus has to guarantee a successful work between all members of the Cloud Campus and therefore communicative complications should be avoided with the help of these guidelines. Words like trust, empathy, relation and confirmation played an important role while talking about how to achieve a common goal.

The participants  got in touch with each other easily and after an icebreaker game and having pizza at the first evening it offered a good basis and relaxed atmosphere for their common project. At the beginning of the workshop the professors gave a short presentation about the media landscape in their country. In this way the students got an overview of diverse views in the media business in Europe to be aware of cultural differences.

Diversity

In the context of different cultures, diversity is an important term which has to be defined and discussed. So what is diversity in general and how diverse are the students from the partner universities?

Diversity is strongly connected with values, those depend on ethnical background and personal experiences. It is difficult to define diversity because there are so many different parameters which affect its meaning. „Diversity itself can be diverse and according to the uniqueness of every single person, there is no general definition of this term“, that is how Søs Thøstensen, student from Copenhagen, summed up the results of the discussion.

To get more in touch with varied cultures and improve their cultural awareness , the students did interviews in the heart of Oslo. They asked persons with ethnical backgrounds about their experiences in intercultural cooperation and issues. The aim was to find out what are the biggest issues of intercultural communication and cooperation. With these new impressions the students presented their ideas and agreed on the next steps.

Building guidelines

At the end of the brainstorming phase the students summed up the most important points of their analysis. After intensive discussions they agreed on three principles: awareness, communication and attitude.

Awareness means that all members of the EMC2 must have knowledge and understanding of cultural differences. They must understand the effects that cultural differences might have, such as different perceptions of time and hierarchy. Participants of the EMC2 try to communicate clearly and precisely, while using English and non-verbal communication. It is important to discuss different expectations before and during your work. The ability to adapt is important in achieving a successful work environment. Attitude means that all members of the EMC2 are encouraged to be respectful, fair and .patient so as to create a productive and trustful work environment.

As a next step the students built two teams to finalise the presentation of the guidelines. One group worked on the theoretical part and the other one produced a short explainer video, so theory and practise were included in the final result. At the last day of the workshop the groups presented their outcome in front of the lectures.

All participants and especially the organiser of the workshop Robert Wallace Vaagen from the Oslo were very satisfied with the result. Also Professor Ritz was very pleased: „We followed the guidelines proposed by the students, and those guidelines proved to be useful for our project. It worked perfectly because everyone was aware of the cultural differences in our team.“

Thereafter the students spent their last day together in the harbour of Oslo and talked about their exciting week. And they all promised to meet again!

Facts about EMC2
The EMC2 (European Media Cloud Campus) is a cloudbased learning and working environment for students, journalists and media experts which supports international collaboration in journalistic and communication projects. It will be probably launched in August 2017. The international project started in 2014 and is developed by the HdM and four partner universities, which are Bilgi from Istanbul, HvA from Amsterdam, DJMX from Copenhagen and Aarhus and the HiOA from Oslo.

About Julian Reitner

Ich studiere im vierten Semester Public Relations an der Hochschule der Medien. Seit Oktober 2016 liefere ich Lesestoff direkt aus unserem Studiengang.