The Division of Distance Learning of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) recently bestowed the Burmeister Award upon Carina Gallo, PhD, assistant professor of criminology at Holy Names University (HNU) and Julaine Fowlin, PhD, former instructional designer at HNU, for their proposal, “Exploring Polar Opposite Worlds in Criminology Through Computer Supported Collaborative Learning.” This proposal was submitted for consideration at AECT’s international convention. The Burmeister Award recognizes the conference presentation proposal that receives the highest average rating from peer reviewers and leads to the improvement of distance education.
The award-winning project connects students and instructors at Gävle University (HIG), in Sweden, and HNU in an online learning experience. The project is an extension of previous work that Gallo did with social work collaboration with U.S. students and students from Stockholm University. Throughout the fall 2015 semester, students at HNU and HIG work together on a number of assignments in a virtual classroom. The collaboration is especially valuable since Sweden and the United States often are considered polar opposites in regards to crime policies. The U.S. has a punitive criminal justice model and one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Sweden's criminal justice model is often characterized as being focused on crime prevention and rehabilitation. The combination of these two cultural contexts provides for a rich and meaningful interaction between students and professional collaborators that has the potential to transform the field of criminology and criminal justice practices.
Gallo and Fowlin are collaborating on the project with My Lilja, PhD, senior lecturer in criminology at HIG and Eva Samuelsson, PhD, at Stockholm University. The collaborators plan to present details of the project at AECT’s international convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, in November 2015. They will also seek to publish their findings across two academic articles.
"Designing the cross cultural computer-supported collaborative learning environment was an invaluable experience for an instructional designer,” Fowlin said. “It required all phases of instructional design: analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. The project involved collaboration on both the student and faculty sides: My [Lilja] was in Sweden and Carina [Gallo] and I were in the U.S. When we started, neither of us knew exactly how things would turn out; and that collaborative problem-solving piece was the best experience for me. Secondly, seeing the effectiveness of the design decisions on student outcomes was amazing. It's almost like producing a movie and sitting in the theatre while viewers watch your movie. I look forward to disseminating our findings through publication."