Building a sense of community in a digital society


ICoME 2016 – the International Conference for Media in Education – will take place in Kyoto, Japan, on August 18th, 19th and 20th. The theme of the conference is “Building relationships and a sense of community in a digital society”.


I’m going to be presenting a paper with Keisuke Tabata from Kobe Shinwa Women’s University about our “Global Communication and Science” collaboration with the University of Mahajanga in Madagascar (abstract below). As always, we’re hugely grateful to Eriky Haritsaratiaray and his amazing team in Mahajanga for helping to make this project possible!

Global Communication and Science: a Madagascar-Japan collaboration

Astronomy and English were the themes of a “Global Communication and Science” project involving students from the University of Mahajanga (Madagascar) and Kobe Shinwa Women’s University (Japan).

Kobe Shinwa students took part in an English-language science workshop to prepare for a partial solar eclipse in Japan (March 9th 2016). They then connected online with Mahajanga students, who were preparing for an annular solar eclipse in Madagascar (September 1st 2016).

As an intercultural team-building exercise, the students met on Skype and did a read-through of the script for “Europa Report” (2013), a science-fiction movie about an international mission to one of Jupiter’s moons. (The script was kindly provided by Start Motion Pictures LLC.) The collaboration continued in a closed Facebook group, where discussion topics ranged from the principle of women-only universities, to typical breakfasts in Madagascar and Japan.

The students deepened their understanding of science, cross-border teamwork, and the language and cultural differences between non-native English speakers across the globe. One of the Mahajanga students said: “Language comes through culture, and culture comes through language. Either way, there were real differences in how people thought about what they wanted to express, and how they expressed it.”

Photo: kconnors (Morguefile)

Published by Graham Jones

Astrophysicist and science communicator