In 2021 the Fulbright Program celebrates its 75th anniversary (In Poland, the Program has operated for 62 years). One of the ways in which we are joining this celebration is by presenting 12 Fulbright stories that showcase the positive impact of the Program on local and global communities. Each of these stories reflects the theme of the month. The March theme is “Education” and our Fulbright story focuses on Kerry Rice – a two-time recipient of the Fulbright grant to the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń (2012-13 & 2015). More information about the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program could be found at fulbright75.org.
Kerry Rice, Ed. D., is a Professor in the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University. Her research focuses on best practices in K-12 online and blended education and includes policy analysis, Delphi and mixed methods studies, and large-scale program evaluations using both traditional and emerging methods in data mining and deep learning analytics. She is the author of Making the Move to K-12 Online Teaching: Research-Based Strategies and Practices, Second Edition (2020) and numerous other publications. Kerry also led the development of the Idaho K-12 Online Teaching Standards and serves as Coordinator of the Idaho K-12 Online Teaching Endorsement Program at Boise State.
She is the recipient of two Fulbright Awards: Fulbright Scholar Award (2012-13) and Fulbright Specialist Award (2015). Thanks to both grants she had the opportunity to visit Poland and teach at local universities. She has spent her 2012-2013 Fulbright Scholar grant titled Exploring New Pedagogies With Technology in Education on teaching and research assignments at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. In 2015, while on her Fulbright Specialist grant, Kerry held the position of the Director of Emerging Technologies for Teaching and Learning International Summer Institute (Nicolaus Copernicus University, Torun). The institute was a joint Polish-U.S. initiative exploring the topics of education and emerging technologies.
Kerry talks about her Fulbright grants’ impact on her professional and personal development in the following way:
“The overarching goals for my Fulbright included an exploration of blended/online program and curriculum development, the sharing of experiences in educational technology in our respective countries and university programs, and an exploration of potential shared grant or research opportunities.
One of my primary professional goals was to gain a more realistic understanding of an educational system other than my limited experience with United States educational systems. I was immensely curious about policy in other government systems, particularly policies impacting online education in primary and secondary education. In addition to clarifying my own understanding, I felt this process was critical to furthering long-term collaboration and partnership goals. The result of these efforts was the publication of a shared text: Crossing borders: An exploration of educational technology in the U.S. and Poland, which explores the history of policy and practice in our respective countries.
As a guest lecturer conducting workshops and speaking to university faculty and students, I presented on a variety of topics including trends in U.S. education, the status of online learning in the U.S., how to write a CV or resume in English, the use of an emergent quest-based learning management system for instruction, and an overview of an exemplar online program in the U.S.
I was also able to work on additional projects to further our respective long-term goals including creating an annotated bibliography on important research articles in the field, an online resource and collection of seminal U.S. research and reports in educational technology, a list of premier international journals in the field, and a collection of grant-awarding organizations for potential future collaborations. The result of these efforts was the award of an Erasmus+ programme higher education student and staff mobility exchange. This was a significant outcome since it was only the second Erasmus exchange program at my institution.
I have learned that any sort of deep understanding of a culture different than one’s own can be an elusive animal. The value of such an experience lies in the recognition of and a greater respect for our differences, as well as an appreciation for the process of building relationships. It takes patience, time slowing down, understanding, and a willingness to be flexible in our expectations. I was able to find kindred spirits in the Department of Didactics and Media in Education and the new Centre for Modern Teaching Technologies at Nicolaus Copernicus University. Ultimately, the experience provided me with a foundation for continued personal growth and the promise of a long-lasting and sustainable relationship; both personal and professional. I cannot help but be forever changed because of it.
I continue to travel frequently to Poland, alone or with colleagues, and my colleagues from Poland have traveled to the U.S. as well. Together, we have written a book, presented at conferences in the U.S. and Poland, and were awarded an Erasmus+ programme higher education student and staff mobility exchange award between our two institutions.”