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Coimbra Group and Evidence-Validated Online Learning through Virtual Exchange

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Coimbra Group and Evidence-Validated Online Learning through Virtual Exchange by Francesca Helm, Coimbra Group

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Coimbra Group and Evidence-Validated Online Learning through Virtual Exchange

  1. 1. Coimbra Group and Evidence-Validated Online Learning throughVirtual Exchange Francesca Helm EADTU Peer Learning Activity - Virtual mobility 12 - 13 December 2018 Maastricht, Netherlands
  2. 2. This presentation • Virtual Exchange • A definition • Two broad models • Benefits for students • EVOLVE • What is it? • Baseline study • Challenges Twitter @evolve_erasmus Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  3. 3. Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  4. 4. What is Virtual Exchange? •VE is a form of computer-mediated learning whereby students from geographically remote classes interact and collaborate together online (in pairs or small groups) on learning activities developed by teachers or educational facilitators. (for a full description, see What is Virtual Exchange) Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  5. 5. • Virtual exchange is based on principles of mutual learning and the collaborative construction of knowledge. • If we are to take equip learners to participate in a world that is increasingly interdependent, complex and unpredictable, there is a strong need for both educators and students to relativise their parameters of analysis and understand their situatedness, partiality and context dependency. ‘This will safeguard against analyses that protect one body of knowledge as universal’ (de Souza and Andreotti 2009, 82) Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  6. 6. 2 broad models of virtual exchange • Virtual exchanges that are collaboratively designed and implemented by university teachers to enhance already existing courses and established partnerships • ‘Ready-made’ virtual exchanges developed and managed by specialist organisations – some of which are currently freely available to students in Europe and South Mediterranean countries through Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  7. 7. Example: Interdisciplinary VE Journalism & Spanish Literature Task product: Joint Intercultural Magazine University of La Frontera (CL) ▪ Course: Fundamental concepts of Social Sciences ▪ 1st year BA -Journalism ▪ Number sts: 33 ▪ Age: between 18 and 20 y.o. ▪ Mother tongue: Spanish ▪ Can communicate in English: 8 sts. University of Groningen (NL) ▪ Course: Spanish Literature and Culture ▪ 2nd year BA –European Lang. and Cult. ▪ Number sts: 33 ▪ Age: between 19 and 23 y.o. ▪ Mother tongue: Dutch (22), English (2), Slovak (2), Bulgarian (2), Spanish (1), German (1), French (1), Romanian (1), Brasil (1). ▪ Level of Spanish: B1/B2 Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  8. 8. Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  9. 9. Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  10. 10. What does Virtual Exchange offer? • Experiential & collaborative student learning • Enhances learning by having students engage and learn course content through their own and the other’s unique cultural lenses • Develops transversal skills such as: • intercultural awareness • online intercultural communicative competence • digital literacies • working effectively in virtual teams • Offers opportunities to build diverse personal relationships • Better prepares them for work and civil engagement in a global context • Encourages students who never thought of study abroad to do so Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  11. 11. What is ? •EVOLVE (Evidence-Validated Online Learning through Virtual Exchange) aims to mainstream Virtual Exchange (VE) as an innovative form of collaborative international learning across disciplines in Higher Education (HE) institutions in Europe and beyond. KA3 Project •EVOLVE is funded as a Forward-Looking Cooperation Project under Erasmus+ Key Action 3: Support for policy reform, Priority 5 – Achieving the aims of the renewed EU strategy for higher education (EACEA 41/2016). Leader: Sake Jager, University of Groningen Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  12. 12. Main objectives ● Help universities to implement VE by providing online training and support ○ Online training co-laboratory: partners from each side are trained ○ VE as outcome: Partners work together to create the outline, tasks and technology environment for the intended VE project ○ Moodle and Mahara ○ Open Badges for educators ● Conduct research on VE at learner, educator, institution level ○ Baseline study (Sept 2018) ○ Research in context of VEs developed ■ Pedagogical approaches and competences ■ Democratic culture/intercultural competences ■ Critical digital literacies ■ Transversal skills ■ Language and disciplinary skills ● Actively promote results and engage with policy and decision makers at university, university network and European level ○ Coimbra Group and SGroup events ○ Academic conferences ○ High-level policy event Brussels/Strasbourg Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  13. 13. Baseline study: Some preliminary results ● Main goal: Investigate awareness and use of VE, with specific reference to Coimbra and SGroup ● Distinction by stakeholder role (specific questions for each group) ● September-October 2018 ● 139 respondents, 128 consent for research ● 18 different countries (25 responses from Lithuania) ● Results still need to be analysed more rigorously ● To be repeated at the end of the project Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  14. 14. There is a general lack of awareness about VE 8. Before reading the introductory text to this survey, were you Educators Supporters Intn'l Officers Policy/managem ent Total No, I had never heard about it 43.1% 33.3% 38.5% 17.4% 46 I had heard about it but I did not really know what it is 15.7% 13.3% 15.4% 4.3% 17 I had heard about it and I had a rough idea what it is 13.7% 26.7% 33.3% 30.4% 31 I had read (eg. a report..) / discussed about it 7.8% 13.3% 2.6% 30.4% 14 Yes, I had a precise idea what it is 19.6% 13.3% 10.3% 17.4% 20 Grand Total 51 15 39 23 128 Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  15. 15. Its relevance for internationalisation is not clear to many Is VE a means for internationalisation? Educators Supporters Int'l Officers Policy/Managem ent Total Not really 10.34% 4.17% 5.26% 5 Uncertain 3.45% 25.00% 5.26% 8 Yes, a bit/sometimes 44.83% 30.00% 37.50% 31.58% 31 Yes, absolutely 41.38% 70.00% 33.33% 57.89% 38 Grand Total 29 10 24 19 82 Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  16. 16. Internationalisation officer: • It may give some educational benefits for students, who do not have possibilities to go on international mobility. However, in international cooperation not only the lecture and learning is important, but everything that is indirectly connected with the mobility. I mean that the experience of traveling to far away different country is really important. Meeting with other people not involved with the university, but in everyday life, learning new abilities to organize life in different country are as valuable as attending lectures and learning. So, in my opinion VE activities are interesting and important, but as internationalisation officers we should focus on creating new opportunities for our students to do actual, real life mobilities. Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  17. 17. An international student recently completed a virtual exchange • The Erasmus experience in Italy gives me a great in depth insight into this country and you learn a lot by living and experiencing a culture first hand … But still the Virtual exchange dialogue with people from totally different backgrounds opened my eyes in so many ways… Although during the Erasmus mobility I can have conversations with locals and learn about their culture, the virtual exchange is a setting for societal, political and also controversial topics which you probably would not talk about as freely with a total stranger. Furthermore, the cultural differences within Europe are not as big as compared to other continents …Conversations about those and similar topics probably would not have been as intense within Europe Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  18. 18. Online Training ● ‘Co-laboratory’: ○ Learning by doing, learning from and with each other, discussions and synchronous VC conferences ○ Study VE by doing VE (including ‘Facilitated Dialogue’) ● Prepare for running own VE projects ● Other stakeholders in VE invited to participate (pedagogical/technical supporters, internationalisation officers, management) ● 6-7 week programme, with optional modules in week 6 and 7, focused on doing research ● Training currently in progress Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  19. 19. Training participation Language educators vs other disciplines Languages 18 Other disciplines 18 Not specified 2 Overview other disciplines Education and education science 2 Teacher training 7 Arts and humanities, Literature and linguistics 4 Law 2 Physical sciences, Biology 3 Travel, tourism, leisure 1 Main challenges for now: ●Accommodating non-educators in training ●Finding a balance between synchronous and asynchronous learning ●Dealing with participants without a partner, especially for non-language disciplines ●Following up the training with developing exchanges and conducting research on these Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  20. 20. Advantages for educators • Professional development – Basics in online teaching and student-centred teaching – Co-teaching with an international colleague – Development of Intercultural awareness and communication skills • Implement new pedagogic approach • Internationalise the curriculum • Learn new things from colleagues • International research opportunity I gained new perspectives from my international partner from the outset, as well as confidence in my own approach toward my students at our institution. I am more convinced than ever that, with proper institutional and technical support, these collaborations are invaluable for students and instructors around the world. Particularly for students with limited opportunities to travel abroad, the opportunity to share an educational experience with students from other cultures and countries is very important. Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  21. 21. Advantages of VE for the university • Offer a ‘portfolio of virtual exchange projects’ that support internationalisation at home AND modernization of HE • Mutual exchange of knowledge based on reciprocal relationships • Can raise student and educator awareness of different perspectives on subject matter and global issues • Fosters development of students’ transversal skills and employability • Can support the creation of strategic inter-institutional agreements and strengthen already existing joint degree programmes • Offers an international experience to students who do not go for mobility Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  22. 22. Challenges • There is still little awareness of virtual exchange in HEIs • Concept of virtual exchange is difficult to understand for many (nb those used to traditional lecture mode of teaching) • Confounded with other models of virtual exchange and virtual mobility, more traditional self-paced, content focused distance learning • No clear ‘home’ in universities or strategy: straddles international relations offices, teaching and learning centres, eLearning centres • Increases workload on already busy, and increasingly precarious staff • Little or no support, recognition or reward for teachers (they do it because they believe in it), it is still very bottom-up. • Difficult at times to get recognition (ECTS) for students Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup
  23. 23. EVOLVE partnership composed of: Coimbra Group, SGroup, Jan Dlugosz University, University of Leon, University of Groningen, Sharing Perspectives Foundation, The Open University, Université Grenoble Alpes, University of Padua, University of Warwick, Malmö University, Soliya/Search for Common Ground: With the support of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union Connect with us: www.evolve-erasmus.eu/ Email: evolve@rug.nl Twitter @evolve_erasmus Coimbra Group – www.coimbra-group.eu https://twitter.com/coimbragroup

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