Evaluating Cross-Cultural Distance Learning: The Stanford Initiative on Distance Learning - Offering International Security Courses to the Russian Regions
Reinhold Steinbeck, Katherine Kuhns.
The Initiative on Distance Learning (IDL) at the Institute for International is concerned with developing an active process in which students from the Russian Federation recover the ability to think critically. By enhancing their critical thinking skills, this young generation of future Russian regional and national citizens and leaders will be better able to engage in active debate on issues of international security. The unfettered pursuit of knowledge is the essence of the academic enterprise, and access to free and uncensored education in this era of globalization has become even more vital to the stability of the international arena in the volatile post 9/11 international setting.
Although it is commonplace in today’s educational world to talk about distance learning as a future panacea to the ills facing the Russian educational system, there are relatively few successful large-scale programs, and very few focusing on contemporary issues of international security. This is in part because of the interactive nature of the learning processes in the social science disciplines, which can be difficult to replicate in a distance-learning setting. Additionally, most programs do not focus on educating the instructors as well as the students, so that new ideas can take root as newly-created departments of political science, history, and sociology are inaugurated in regional universities. In 1999 IDL made the decision to embark on a distance-learning project to test the viability of distance-learning technologies as a valid mechanism by which Western international relations courses could be delivered to Russian regional universities. Not only would the program be exposing Russian students and instructors to US and Western European approaches to issues of international relations and educational methodologies, we would most importantly be exposing the students to the most qualified and responsible scholars of contemporary security issues. If a program to offer international security courses in Russia was successful in enabling the students to consider different worldviews, the possibilities for offering similar courses to other countries wanting access to education would be greatly enhanced.
Reinhold Steinbeck (United States)
Director, International Program
Stanford Center for innovations in Learning (SCIL)
Senior Research Scientist and Director of the International Program, Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning (SCIL), has considerable international R&D management experience and learning design expertise, having led several of the Stanford Learning Lab’s globally distributed collaborative learning research projects, including developing, implementing, and evaluating distributed collaborative student activities for Stanford’s eight Overseas Studies Centers.
Prior to joining the Stanford Learning Lab and its successor, the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning, Steinbeck was a Research Scientist with Apple Computer’s Advanced Technology Group (ATG).
Katherine Kuhns (United States)
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)