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CLICK’s Crystal Ball: Students See our Future with Virtual Museums

A bit more substantive than “crystal ball gazing,” seven French-US student teams created the CLICK Museum of the Future this spring. Three collaborating teachers combined their course learning goals in History, Communications, and Physics to enable their students to imagine different futures then research and curate their visions, for better or worse, into a range of thought-provoking exhibits (detailed below).

This teaching team epitomized the amazing educational potential of interdisciplinary collaboration that we value so highly at Gazelle International. Bryan Shuler, (a history instructor at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida), along with Virginie Saint-Martin (a culture, communication, and French literature instructor at IUT Cachan) and Jerome Saint-Martin (a physics and electronics instructor at IUT Cachan) divided their classes into international teams tasked with representing various visions of the future.

While gaining new subject matter insights, the students worked toward key learning outcomes of all CLICK projects also known as “meta-skills” of intercultural communication, team problem solving, online global citizenship among others. Not only did they think through current world challenges through cross-cultural and disciplinary lenses but they also considered their own role in the global workplace and worked collaboratively on the projects using new technology tools.

Using artsteps, a free online virtual museum building tool, students envisioned different futures with their exhibits. Students demonstrated a variety of outlooks into the future, demonstrating innovations and achievements like robotic advancements, technologically augmented humans, meals in pill form, and meditations of our planet’s future. In their museums, students considered how realms like transportation, medicine, and the domestic sphere could be transformed by automation and biohybrids. Other museums functioned as caveats for humanity, displaying the worrying trends of climate change, food waste, and pollution.

The virtual museum exhibits also allowed students to express how these intimidating diagnoses for the planet’s future could be changed. Following exhibits about climate change, students shared ideas about renewable energy sources, wind turbines, solar panels, and more. One exhibit’s final room ushers viewers out with the encouraging sentiment, “There is still time.”

The post-CLICK project student surveys showed how they valued cross-cultural collaboration. Faculty noticed too and commented on the educational value of working in international teams and fostering cross-cultural understanding. When asked about the impact of their CLICK project experience, one student noted that it “helped me in being able to manage my time in order to accommodate others' conflicting schedules and time zones."

Other students noted how it helped them learn to communicate across language and cultural barriers as well as consider the feelings and needs of others. Another student observed, “I think the experience in the CLICK project made me reevaluate how I explain certain things. I’m so used to everyone quickly understanding everything I mean that when I began working with the French students, I had to quickly adjust to accommodate. I think this improved my ability to communicate and will better my experiences in the work field later on.” When asked what they enjoyed most, countless students responded how great it was to meet new people from another country and make new friends. And isn’t that the vision of the future that we all want to see in our “crystal ball gazing?”

Grace East



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