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International relations on our campus

By Kisten S. Chetty
On December 12, 2012

Instructor Danielle Hickerson spoke to students in Russia, enrolled in the Basic English Teacher Training module.
Hickerson teaches an online class composed of students from Saratov State University in Russia. The online course is a six-week course with a unit each week and various discussion boards.
The conference, which happened via Skype, allowed her students to ask questions and give feedback on the course work.
For an online course, the instructor and students seemed unusually familiar with each other. Hickerson greeted a few of the students by name and seemed to recognize many of them by face.
Hickerson stressed the importance of communication and building a social network among her students. She has traded "dozens of emails" with some of her Russian students and they have even created a social page where they can discuss the work while getting to know each other.
This is the second conference that Hickerson has been a part of since she began teaching the course. This time she and Tatiania Kharlamova, head of the foreign languages department at Saratov University, exchanged potential questions before the conference. This allowed both sides more time to prepare their questions.
The Saratov students were eager to respond to Hickerson's questions, ranging from course evaluation to practical experiences.  The Saratov students had many of their own questions for Hickerson. They were curious about drop rates in colleges and high schools, how the process of becoming a teacher was different in America and many other issues.
A unique opportunity presented itself when another group of Russian students' visit coincided with the Skype conference. This set of students were here to tour American universities to get a better understanding of the education system.  Both Russian groups were afforded time to discuss their observations via the Skype call.
Dr. Kay Eggleston, Richland's president, stopped by to greet the Saratov students and share some words with them. Hickerson believes this conference was a resounding success and plans to increase the number of conferences held.

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