TEFI principles in action: reflections on the first year of the Global TEFI Courses

Janne J. Liburd, Ulrike Gretzel, Dagmar Lund-Durlacher, Roberta Leme Sogayar, Loredana Padurean, Christian Schott

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Aiming to raise the quality of tourism education by use of Web 2.0 technology, new pedagogy and values-based education, this paper initially provides an in depth description of the Global TEFI Courses followed by a discussion of the successes and challenges encountered. The Global TEFI Courses were jointly taught in 2010 by the group of authors based in Brazil, USA, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand for students at the six participating universities. Many tourism educators and researchers are intimately aware of the seismic changes and implications of mega-trends facing the tourism industry. In 2007, Dwyer et al. identified these mega-trends as social (e.g. age complexity, urbanization, feminization of workforce), political (e.g. safety and security, immigration issues), environmental and resources (e.g. climate change, land use changes) and technical (e.g. increasing importance of knowledge, continued fast pace of technological development). Currently enrolled tourism students will seek future employment in the tourism industry where they will be expected to respond actively to the complex influences of mega-trends, which are not entirely independent of each other. Others will seek employment in academe, where independent, critical thinking guide education and research activities that may also focus on responses to mega-trends in various forms. Many students will be occupying jobs that do not even exist today and even more can expect to leave university without any assurance that they find a job in the field for which they may be qualified. Pointing to the global population increase, and related competition, less dependence on manual labor and the mass-university producing more graduates, Robinson (2009: 232) asserts that:
"the plain fact is that a college degree is not worth a fraction of what it once was. A degree was a passport to a good job. Now, at best, it's a visa. It only gives you provisional residence in the job market".
Concerned that few undergraduate and graduate tourism programs are preparing students to meet the challenges of the present and be instrumental in forming the future (Tylor, 2009; Sheldon et. al, 2008; Liburd and Hjalager, 2010 a&b), let alone promoting a balance between satisfying the demands of business and those of the wider society and the world (Tribe, 2002), these challenges set the context for the Tourism Education Futures Initiative (TEFI) and the implementation of the Global TEFI courses.
First the context for the creation of five values-based principles (TEFI, 2009) that tourism students must imbibe upon graduation will be outlined in brief. Next, as a critical component of this initiative the INNOTOUR portal will be introduced before the conditions for collaborative teaching will be discussed. Adopting a Web 2.0 philosophy, these conditions include teacher training, didactic and pedagogical perspectives as the implementation of values based learning calls for a new learning paradigm and methodologies that transcend traditional boundaries. The practicalities of implementing the Global TEFI Courses as well as initial student feedback will be discussed. Evidence here suggests that there is a need for alignment to ensure consistency between semester activities and the final exam/evaluation (Biggs and Tang, 2007). Additionally, the global dimension of this initiative is perceived as enriching by both teachers and students, however, it also presents a number of challenges including language, different academic calendars, and the development of trans-university collaboration. Finally, reflections are provided on the future challenges and opportunities for the Global TEFI Courses.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTEFI principles in action: reflections on the first year of the Global TEFI Courses
EditorsDarko Prebežac
Number of pages5
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia
PublisherTemple University Press
Publication date19. May 2011
Publication statusPublished - 19. May 2011

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