The importance of international distance learning for the development of intercultural communication
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Dazzling developments in communication technologies, increase in speed almost everywhere, disappearance of distances among people and the innovations in information technologies have also reverberated in education. Needless to say, today it is possible to have education anytime and anywhere, notwithstanding the probable limitations of time and space. In this sense, distance teaching offers students an opportunity to have education anywhere and anytime via the internet and it has already been a dynamic, effective and interactive method to provide education. Apart from the education models, such as distance teaching, e-education, e-school, prevalence of new education technologies including e-library, e-journals, smart boards, multimedia devices etc. have brought a new dimension to learning and teaching strategies. As the information sources in global education system are continuously accessible, there is no need to limit education into certain periods of time. Introduction of the distance teaching programmes in international dimension in addition to those provided in national scale enables students to come together with individuals from different cultures and have the opportunity to look at things through their perspectives as well. This point is quite important with respect to current educational opportunities. In fact, education is one of the most important factors for the development of intercultural communication which has both interactive and interpersonal characteristics. While studying the communication of individuals with the members of different cultures, it is imperative to understand the difference in cultural codes. This approach initially necessitates examining the cultures taking part in a respective process separately. Efficiency of intercultural communication depends on the coding of the messages with respect to the intention of the sender as well as the comprehension of the receiver that the message perceived is the product of a different coding system. At this point, in order to enable the individuals form different cultures to understand each other and express themselves, education appears as a significant means. International distance teaching programmes not only facilitate this function, but also require students to coordinate and co-operate. Being one of the vital elements of socialisation process, education is the area where individuals gain the ability to evaluate themselves as well as others and decide as a result of these evaluations. Therefore, group work is given special importance in virtual classroom activities. Here, the aim is to provide opportunities for the students to express themselves, develop persuasion abilities, balance their motivational and emotive affections as well as produce common ideas with the others. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of international distance teaching programmes on how students from different cultures realize themselves in group interactions, possess due knowledge technically and institutionally, make ethical decisions for their actions and come into contact with different cultures through a sample project. © The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology.