During the POISE project we discussed the many excellent 'talking heads' resources that are available. Indeed a search on YouTube reveals dozens of international students talking about their experiences. Our original intention had been to add to this body of sharable testimonies and commentaries with similar live videos of individuals talking.
However as the project developed it became clear that the most powerful evidence was not an individuals statements but what emerged in dialogue with others, and so a series of short vignettes of two or more students discussing their learning was deemed more appropriate.
Understandably some of the participants in our developmental workshops were concerned that their honest declarations would be judged by others negatively. early attempts to have individuals act out previously heard dialogues were unconvincing. We also identified that all of us, every one of us, will make a 'judgement' on seeing and hearing someone speak. We bring all our own personal histories and assumptions to bear. So we wanted to find a way of sharing these valuable insights, short snippets of students conversations about the POISE questions, without the person watching 'jumping to conclusions'. We sought to avoid a tendency to say "ah, yes, Japanese students would say that", or "that's what British students always say about maths."
So we decided to use cartoons. The voices are not as natural as one would like, but they are 'neutral'. It is obvious that they are not 'real people', but the dialogue is. The words spoken are students words. In our workshops we have found that students and faculty watching the videos laugh a little at the 'digital;' voices on the first clip but soon acclimatize and start to listen to the actual dialogue.
The dialogue between students has been only lightly edited and a transcript is therefore available for each video. This also means that as the technology improves we can always redo the cartoons for more and more natural voices.