Learning and teaching experiences in an offshore programme : challenges and strategies
Wu-Ross, Li Jun (Ann)
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Permanent link to Research Bank record:https://hdl.handle.net/10652/2312
This study examines the experiences of learners and lecturers undertaking a computing degree delivered offshore by lecturers from a New Zealand university to students in Vietnam in 2012. It focuses on the learning and teaching issues encountered and the strategies adopted by students and lecturers taking part in the course. The research methodology was an interpretivist case study and involved semi-structured interviews with New Zealand lecturers and reflective journals blogs recorded by the Vietnamese students over a period of six weeks between the end of May through to early July 2012. Thematic analysis was used to synthesize important aspects of the intercultural context. The findings highlight difficulties with the English language, teaching approaches and problems associated with distance learning, communication and cultural issues for both students and lecturers. Students and lecturers noted significant differences in teaching and learning approaches in the universities between Vietnam and New Zealand. English language skills presented communication challenges for students and this impacted negatively on their overall satisfaction of the learning experience. Students and lecturers described distance teaching and learning as requiring more effort than their face-to-face learning and teaching. Lecturers noted that Vietnamese students enjoyed socialising with their lecturers and preferred a closer working relationship than their Western counterparts. Vietnamese students enjoyed group learning situations and preferred in-direct communication. To address the learning and teaching challenges students and lecturers adopted a range of strategies which included practising English with lecturers, online English activities and reading widely. Teachers also attempted to use a range of technologies such as video conferencing, wikis and blogs to assist students. Some also attempted to modify their course delivery methods and to utilise the Vietnamese teaching assistants to support student learning. The findings of this research demonstrate key issues facing teachers and learners undertaking degree level courses in offshore contexts. The communication and language issues facing both lecturers and students have implications for the delivery of courses to students in diverse cultural contexts. This study establishes a first step in understanding the learning and teaching experiences of Vietnamese students and their New Zealand lecturers in the offshore programme, it presents the learning and teaching challenges the learners and lecturers faced and strategies they adopted to overcome the issues.