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Supporting Interaction between Language Learners

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  • Project described featured as a case study in the INTENT report and shared through the recently launched uni collaboration site. Large scale project (700 students per year) but had humble beginnings – chance encounter through comments on a blog post. Shared desire to encourage learners to interact with peers, to increase autonomy and support development of digital literacies and intercultural interpersonal skills.
  • All students given access to a secure moodle space, had to create their profile. Given a first “partner” but open to connect with anyone through a range of networks. Portal tools included blackboard collaborate tools – BBIM, voice tools and virtual classroom. Aim: to give a wide range of virtual open spaces for learning reflecting the different nature of these physical spaces. First cohort had to give permission for research into the interactions that emerged. Students created the logo for the research project.
  • Handing over ownership of spaces, using hashtags to pull external content back into portal to ”feed” the interactions. During first term – “routine” photosharing task used as an icebreaker (school disco analogy)
  • Students move out together to connect in their own preferred spaces, the moodle course uses RSS feeds to bring back feeds from twitter hashtages #warcler (in eng) #clerwar (in fr) and paperli for both locations. A campus based IM was also made available which has been downloaded by 125 people so far.
  • Forum postings – adding voice increased depth and quantity of engagement.
  • Recording in faltering french by 2 FBA students practiced, giggled, re-recorded – blown away by the response: extended response in English – would need to continue discussion to negotiate meaning – this is where the learning happens. Cultural differences – esprit philosophique vs pragmatic UK
  • Course profile (assessment end term1 and 2)nb teacher input v.low, space belongs to ss. Need for more analytics from BBIM, interaction generally radiates into own social networks.
  • Returning to initial image: flowers in vases (individual in classroom) may thrive for a while but will always be limited. In a more open setting irises shoot out rhizomes – as our students reached out to one another, and the result is greater interaction and a population that is more widespread and connected – the evidence of learning shows in the reflective work completed by students in their portfolios. Evidence that voice helps to reduce the psychological distance between participants, choice of channels for communication including more immediate contact through IM and social networks increased agency and ownership of the spaces.
  • Thank you!


  • 1. Supporting interactionbetween languagelearnersTeresa MacKinnonApril 9th 2013
  • 2. 2The INTENT project: telecollaboration.
  • 3. 3EWC: Echange Warwick Clermont
  • 4. 4Establishing a community:• Social presence is “the ability of participants toidentify with the community (e.g., course ofstudy), communicate purposefully in a trustingenvironment, and develop inter-personalrelationships by way of projecting theirindividual personalities.” (Garrison, 2009)
  • 5. 5Student identities:Management of ownimage relevant to thefunction of the space.Visual media andspoken voice supportengagement withothers.
  • 6. 7Extending interaction
  • 7. 8Spoken voice in forum postings:
  • 8. 9Levels of engagement:
  • 9. 10Case study on Uni-collaboration.eu
  • 10. Kearney et al, Research inLearning Technology Vol20, 2012http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/14406/html
  • 11. 12Follow WarwickLanguage ontwitter and youtubeSecond Life: TeresamacNetvibesPersonal websiteThank you!