Teacher Students’ Lack of Motivation to Study Abroad
Student mobility and studying abroad plays a marginal role in the individual experience of teacher students. Studies show that teacher students’ interest, volition, and motivation to gain international experience is lower compared to students enrolled into other study programs (Protzel & Heinecke, 2019).
As many students don’t grab the opportunities offered by ERASMUS+, Schulwärts (DAAD) or organizations like AIESEC, it must be considered that in many cases the personal attitude and motivation for studying abroad is influenced by the social background, especially the expected additional financial burden (BMBF 2008).
The Idea of “internationalization@home” and the Availability of Digital Media and Internet
The “International Project (IPC)”, developed in 2008 at the Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, offers teacher students a chance for global and cross-cultural learning by taking advantage of the increasing availability of digital media. The basic idea is to create the possibility of an internationalization@home, allowing teacher students to gain international experience without traveling, at low costs, by sharing and comparing experiences in an international context and learning and working together cross-culturally.
A Network of Partner Universities
The IPC Project is a unique concept which has been developed, evaluated, and repeatedly improved during the time. It is based on an international network of currently seven partner universities (Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, Poland, Sweden, Spain, and USA). Teacher students at the participating universities collaborate in regular classes of their study programs using learning platforms and digital tools (e.g. Zoom, Padlet, Book Creator, Adobe Spark, Canva).
Constructivist Understanding of Learning
The IPC project is based on an inquiry-based and constructivist understanding of learning. Supported by their teachers and student tutors the students carry out small qualitative research projects, compare and discuss self-chosen or prepared topics and readings, and present their results in plenum Zoom meetings.
Gaining Expertise and Global Competence
By working on topics selected from the teacher training curriculum the students improve their expertise and develop awareness of cultural differences and communalities. This contributes to a better understanding and appreciation of cross-cultural issues and different perspectives in the sense of the OECD term of Global Competence (2018) and provides the students with skills to engage for collective well-being, sustainability, and appropriate interactions across cultures. Depending on the didactical format the students get a basic insight into research methods, gain experience in organizing project work, enhance their competence in using digital apps and tools, and practice their English language skills.