by jamesc 6/26/2014 10:23:41 AM --
AARHUS, DENMARK - There were significantly more hands in the air than usual. Three instructors from Northeast Community College visited Aarhus Business College (Århus Købmandsskole) this spring, where they stepped up to the whiteboard to teach primarily at the departments of vocational education.
The students were curious and had no problem asking their questions in English. “It has been a wonderful experience to teach Danish students. They have so many interesting questions about American society” said Kate Trindle, who teaches geography and history at Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska. “The Danish students’ English abilities are very good, but their understanding of American culture is a bit skewed by the media. Not all Americans walk around with guns in their pockets – and reality is not exactly what you see in films. The students came up and shook my hand after class and I could see that they thought it was interesting to speak to an American,” she said, smiling.
Kate Trindle visited Aarhus Business College with her colleagues Brian Anderson, who is an instructor in broadcasting, and Cara Hoehne, who is an instructor in business communication. The visit is a result of a partnership that began officially on 7 February 2013 with live transmission via the internet of an official signing ceremony between Aarhus and Norfolk, Nebraska.
In Denmark the agreement was signed by College President Gitte Nørgaard Nielsen and Chairperson of the Board Karina Boldsen, while at the same time, their counterparts at Northeast set their signatures on the agreement, setting in motion a valuable exchange of knowledge.
Three teachers from Aarhus Business College visited Northeast Community College in autumn 2013, where they taught American students about Danish politics, culture, and the Danish education system. Students from the two schools have since then worked together and exchanged TV-productions via for example social media.
A busy schedule
The three American teachers arrived to a budding spring in Aarhus, and despite their numerous hours teaching in the classroom, they found time to visit various companies and organisations in Aarhus and surrounds. These included visits to Danmarks Radio (DR) and Aarhus’ radio station go!FM, the open-air museum Den Gamle By (‘The Old Town’), the trade union HK, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Kollerup Gods, a number of Danish companies, and a trip over Denmark’s southern border to Germany.
The partnership was developed through the vision of both schools to prioritise internationalisation. Northeast Community College has had a number of years’ success with Hawk TV, a TV station run by students taking an education in broadcasting. It is a project that Aarhus Business College’s TV station – AABC TV – hopes to learn a great deal from. There are many opportunities in a great number of areas for the schools to share their knowledge and experiences across the Atlantic.
The agreement has resulted in both a digital and ‘real-life’ partnership. For instructors, it has proven to be a unique opportunity to meet colleagues from the other side of the world who are engaged in the same activities, and who can provide new professional input. It is already clear that the teacher exchange has given a closer cooperation between students in Aarhus and students in the USA.
The American instructors have filmed students in Aarhus on an iPad, and uploaded short videoclips to a closed Facebook group. This has sparked a peak in interest and the number of visits to the Facebook group from students on social media.
27 students from Northeast are working together with Denmark, whilst approximately 50 students from Aarhus Business College have been involved. The students have, among other activities, filmed their personal Christmas traditions and exchanged the films across country borders.
“We would like to see even more exchanges of TV projects between students. We have been speaking about developing a project about Danish influences and lifestyles in the USA, and vice versa. We will work on the projects simultaneously. That way the students will learn both about a new culture and international communication,” said Brian Anderson.
“The students are very keen to share their productions. It is a lot more interesting to create something that will be seen by someone in a foreign country. The world is becoming increasingly global. Our students need to get used to doing business abroad – and the Danish students do too,” he points out.
Drinking beer on Fridays
Northeast Community College is in Nebraska, the center of the USA. It has been surprising for the three American instructors, how similar the students and their daily lives are.
“In many ways the students here do the same things as the students back home in Nebraska. The editing rooms and TV studios are different, but the concept is the same,” said Brian Anderson.
The two schools are roughly equivalent with regard to their use of technology. Northeast Community College has been offering online courses to students for many years, where students can sit at home and follow classes. Like Aarhus Business College, Northeast uses smartboards and tablets in the classroom. The American guests were though impressed by the docking stations used in classrooms in Aarhus, that allow teachers to connect their own portable computers to a projector, and show their presentations on the large screen.
“I have taken photos of your docking stations,” smiles Brian Anderson.
Another difference between the two schools is the service of alcohol. “A Friday bar with beer would never happen at home at Northeast, primarily because the students must be 21 to be served alcohol. But it gives a good social environment, and the teacher-student relationship is more relaxed here,” said Kate Trindle.
Cara Hoehne agrees: “The Friday bar teaches students to drink alcohol in a secure environment. At the same time it teaches them how to behave in situations where alcohol is involved. Our students drink without adult supervision, and can have difficulty controlling it.”
All three instructors have used their time in Denmark to soak up new information and experiences.
“The cultural impressions that we take home with us are of great benefit to our students. We can inspire them to travel and seek out cultural experiences. For people in Nebraska, the world can be quite small. Many people live in the same area their whole lives,” explains Kate Trindle.
The teacher exchange received support from the Danish Agency for Higher Education under the DK-USA program, support with which College President Gitte Nørgaard Nielsen is very pleased.
“The partnership gives both students and instructors a unique opportunity to gain international skills and competences. We exchange ideas, technology, and teaching methods, and the United States is suddenly a lot closer. We show our students that the door to the world is wide open, and they gain experience that is extremely valuable to them, when they later enter a global workforce,” she said.
The partnership with Northeast Community College is one of Aarhus Business College’s two major agreements with colleges in the USA, the other being a close cooperation with Austin Community College, Texas.
Reprinted with permission from Aarhus Business College