Improving Intergroup Relations Through Online Contact

  • Meital Amzalag Holon insitute of Thecnology
  • Noa Shapira Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee
Keywords: indirect contact, online contact, multicultural education, teachers, computer-mediated communication

Abstract

This study examined an online professional development program designed to support meaningful acquaintance and reduce stereotypes and prejudices among teachers from different cultures in Israeli society. The rationale of the online program was based on the premise that indirect online contact might improve intergroup relations in diverse societies. The program was designed to progress gradually, starting from basic and leading to a deeper acquaintance, using a variety of computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools. Findings indicated that upon program completion, participants were more respectful towards one another than pre-program. They held a positive view of online learning and were open to multiculturalism (more tolerant and accepting of others than previously) while still maintaining their respective cultural identities. The program participants noticed the gradual progression in task design, expressly noting that this stepwise structure supported forging a connection and then fostering familiarization. This study fills a gap in the research through demonstrating ways that online contact (indirect contact) can be used to promote acquaintance and reduce stereotypes and prejudices among teachers from different groups in Israeli society.

 

Author Biographies

Meital Amzalag, Holon insitute of Thecnology

Dr. Meital Amzalag, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Haifa, specializing in the impact of technology on learning and teaching. Her dissertation deals with the role of online social networks in learning and social integration among students of Ethiopian origin in Israel. Between 2015-2018, she was a member of the Learning in a Networked Society (LINKS) Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE). Her current research focuses on learning technologies, digital literacy, digital gap, minorities, and ethic issues.   

Dr. Amzalag is a staff member at the Holon Institute of Technology in the Instructional Technologies Department. Teaching courses that deal with technology and learning, supervise undergraduate and graduate students in seminars and final projects. She also teaches at the Ruppin Academic Center courses in SPSS. Dr. Amzalag was the head of the Department of Programming in the Ruppin College of Technology for ten years.

Noa Shapira, Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee

Dr. Noa Shapira completed her PdD at the Faculty of Education, Technologies in Education Program, Haifa University. The PhD was entitled: Fostering intergroup empathy in an online learning environment. Between 2015-2018, she was a member of the Learning in a NetworKed Society (LINKS) Israeli Center of Research Excellence (I-CORE).

She is now a lecturer at Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, in the Department of Education and Community where she teaches: Lifelong Learning, Development of Training Programs, Culture and Multiculturalism, Research Methods in Social Sciences, Integration of the Other in the Community Seminar, and more.

She is also a team leader in the Centre for Educational Technology (CET). She is responsible for developing online resources and online professional development programs for teachers, which deal with topics such as racism, human rights, and coexistence in Israel. She is also the facilitator for these professional development programs. Noa is one of the developers of the MOOC course: Introduction to Multiculturalism.

 

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Published
2021-03-11
How to Cite
Amzalag, M., & Shapira, N. (2021). Improving Intergroup Relations Through Online Contact. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(1), 111-134. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v22i1.5098
Section
Research Articles