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2/25/2021Overcoming the pandemic-driven disruption to Eastern European higher education: Incidental outcomes of long-term, intercultural academic collaboration
Many Eastern European students face hurdles in terms of language, adaptation, and cultural barriers in their pursuit of their academic goals. As the world continues to evolve through a world pandemic, educators and students are navigating through the realities of what "school" entails. The pandemic has challenged the notion of how traditional "school" operates and there are certain barriers that will require an adjustment at multiple levels within the institution to bolster instructors preparation and successfully integrate new instructional strategies not used in their pre-pandemic academic programs. cultural adaptability, linguistic nuances, and technological accessibility, and financial need, are coming to the forefront as academic institutions work toward providing effective systems for international instructor support.
  Presenter(s): Phillip J. Ward, Michelle Loo, University of South Alabama; Nataliia Volkovetska-Ireland, Vasyl Stefanyk National Precarpathian University; Khrystyna Vintoni, Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas
Bio(s): Phillip J. Ward is an instructional designer and graduate assistant at the Innovation in Learning Center at the University of South Alabama (USA). From 2010 to 2012 he served with the Peace Corps where  taught Communication Theory at the National Technical University of Oil and Gas in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. In 2014, he and his colleagues founded the  Alabama-Ukraine Organization of Educational Cooperation and Development, a transnational association focused on cultural exchange and mutual discovery of knowledge.  His scholarly interests include instructional design for international students, multicultural issues in higher education, and human performance improvement in diverse learning environments. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Instructional Design and Development (IDD) program at USA. In Spring 2021, he will defend his dissertation Becoming an Graduate Student in a Foreign Culture. He holds a BA in International Studies and an MS in IDD from USA, as well as an MBA from the University of Mobile.

Michelle Loo is an Instructional Design and Development PhD Candidate at the University of South Alabama. Along with the doctorate program, she is also a graduate assistant at the Innovation in Learning Center where she focuses on professional development initiatives, designing Canvas course sites for the university, and providing workshops and webinars on evidence-based teaching strategies and instructional technologies for the traditional, blended, and online classroom. Along with working as a GA, she also collaborates with international universities, such as the Ivano-Franksivk National Technical University of Oil and Gas in Ukraine and Ningbo University in China, hosting and presenting webinars for faculty and students. Her professional interests include User Experience Design and Learner Experience Design, interactive media, and digital graphics. She holds a B.A. in Psychology, B.S. in Marketing, and M.S. in Instructional Design.

Before pursuing the doctoral program in 2018, she taught English and freelanced as an instructional designer, creating foreign-teacher training courses for English First in Ningbo, China. She has worked to bring more awareness to graduate student voices and create more opportunities for IDD graduate students and professionals to network within the doctoral program. Additionally, Michelle corresponded with different professionals in the field to put together panelists for webinars, workshops for graduate students seeking jobs, comprehensive exam study sessions, writing groups, and social gatherings (over Zoom during COVID-19).

Nataliia Volkovetska-Ireland holds BA and MA degrees in ESL from Vasyl Stefanyk National Precarpathian University in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, and PhD in Comparative Literature from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Her scholarly interests comprise issues of cultural identity, diversity, and multiculturalism, national and historical memory, constructivism through the lens of linguistics, education, philosophy, and social studies. In 2015-2016 she taught ESL in Vasyl Stefanyk National Precarpathian University. Since 2016 she has been collaborating with the Instructional Design team at the Innovation in Learning Center at the University of South Alabama (USA) as a cultural instructor. Currently, she is an ELA teacher at Reid Middle School and a site-coordinator for 21st Century Community Learning Center in Morningside Community School, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA.

Khrystyna Vintoniv is an Assistant Professor at the Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas (IFNTUOG), Department of Records Information Management in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine. She holds a bachelor's and a specialist's degree in Records Information Management from IFNTUOG.  In 2014, she defended the thesis for obtaining the candidate degree in Historical Sciences at the Ukrainian Research Institute of Archival Affairs and Records Management in Kyiv, Ukraine. Her research interests include archival Ukrainian holdings abroad, Ukrainian diaspora, electronic archives, and online learning. She is also a licensee and co-organiser of five TEDxIvanoFrankivsk conferences.

She initiated the integration of online learning into traditional face-to-face courses at her department beginning in 2018. Thanks to former Peace Corps Volunteer Phillip Ward, her department has engaged in multiple international collaboration projects with the Innovation in Learning Center at the University of South Alabama (USA). In 2019, she and Mr. Ward coordinated the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, which raised the status of the working relationship between the two institutions to an officially recognized partnership.
Category: Culture, Learning and Technology
Keywords: culture | higher education | peace corps