Research Articles

Inquiry-based learning and digital storytelling in virtual exchange: an approach for reflecting on food consumption in the Global South and Global North




nutrition and consumer education, food science, inquiry-based learning, digital storytelling, UN sustainable development goals


Virtual exchange (VE) in higher education provides an underemployed opportunity for fostering consumer and sustainability competencies. We explore how a crosscultural teaching-learning environment can be designed to encourage students to reflect on a complex global challenge - food consumption patterns - and their role in it. We discuss challenges regarding food consumption as a topic for VE and describe a didactic concept that employs inquiry-based learning and digital storytelling as the framework for student exploration and expression. Initially developed for VE in food studies and nutrition education, the concept can be readily transferred to other disciplines and topics. We present insights from a pilot implementation with 16 food science students from Laos and 26 pre-service teachers from Germany. The analysis of students’ responses from pre- and post-questionnaires and their digital stories suggest that the concept is promising, although some factors require improvement and careful attention, such as technologies and the lingua franca of the learning environment. Findings and lessons learned might inform other projects that similarly seek to address complex global challenges.

Author Biographies

Silke Bartsch, Technische Universität Berlin

Dr. Silke Bartsch is Professor for Didactics at the Institute of Vocational Education and Work Studies at Technische Universität Berlin, Germany. She earned her PhD degree with her work on the eating culture of young people at the University of Education, Heidelberg. Her research interests focus on nutrition and consumer education.

Pisavanh Kittirath, Savannakhet University

Pisavanh Kittirath is a staff member in the Food Processing Technology Department, Faculty of Food Science, Savannakhet University, Lao PDR. She received her Master’s degree in Food Technology at Can Tho University, Vietnam. Her study focus lies on the evaluation of the food safety of street food.

Heike Müller, Technische Universität Berlin

Heike Müller is a researcher at the Institute of Vocational Education and Work Studies at Technische Universität Berlin, Germany, with a background in education, home economics, content and language integrated learning and media education. Her PhD research focuses on how Consumer Education is implemented and constructed in schools in Germany.

Chandokkham Youyabouth, Savannakhet University

Chandokkham Youyabouth is Acting Vice-Dean of Faculty of Food Sciences for Academic Affair, lecturer and researcher at Savannakhet University, Lao PDR. She holds a Bachelor’s in English teaching from the Faculty of Education at National University of Laos and an International Master’s in Rural Economics and Sociology from Hanoi University of Agriculture, Vietnam. She specializes in Rural Deployment.





Research Articles