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Innovations in Teaching? A Critical Look At A Three-Country Teacher Education Online Partnership


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In this presentation we (Sauro, Spector Cohen & O'Dowd) examine a three-country teacher education partnership, designed to English teachers to innovative uses of technology, using the following four points introduced by O'Dowd's in his 2015 keynote at Eurocall: (1) the effectiveness of this partnership for contributing to the goals of (foreign) language education, (2) the degree to which this partnership sufficiently addressed the needs and challenges of twenty-first century educators, (3) what future research directions could be drawn from this experience, and (4) how telecollaborative initiatives outside of CALL could be used to inspire or enhance future similar exchanges.

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Innovations in Teaching? A Critical Look At A Three-Country Teacher Education Online Partnership

  1. 1. Innovations in Teaching? A Critical Look at a Three- Country Teacher Education Online Partnership Shannon Sauro Elana Spector Cohen Robert O’Dowd Malmö University Tel Aviv University University of León
  2. 2. Examining the Effectiveness of a Three-Country Partnership 1. The effectiveness of this partnership for contributing to the goals of (foreign) language education 2. The degree to which this partnership sufficiently addressed the needs and challenges of twenty-first century educators 3. What future research directions could be drawn from this experience 4. How telecollaborative initiatives outside of CALL can be used to inspire or enhance future similar exchanges. O’Dowd (2015)
  3. 3. Purpose: Innovations in Teaching Origins of the project: Adapting Telecollaboration to different university learning formats and contexts Inspired by the Sharing Perspectives Model of Exchange 1. Online lectures from different teachers 2. Viewed and discussed by participating classrooms 3. Online interaction about the lectures by multicultural groups 4. Project work inspired by the exchange Aims: To move from a lecture-based ‘transfer of knowledge’ format to an approach where content and student interaction are integrated. Provide students with access to experts in different areas of FL education. To provide future FL teachers with first-hand experience of online intercultural collaboration.
  4. 4. Topics & Tasks Three Modules on CALL Topics 1. Complete assigned readings 2. View expert-created video on the topic 3. Respond to 2 out of 4 prompts on the topic/readings/video
  5. 5. The Partners
  6. 6. University of León Degree: MA in Secondary School Education • Future EFLT teachers in secondary schools in Spain • Course: “Innovations in Education” • Participation in project was obligatory for all 12 students
  7. 7. Tel Aviv University Course: Curriculum Design and Materials Development • Graduate students in International MA TESOL program (EMI degree program) • Participation was compulsory • All 14 students in the program participated
  8. 8. Malmö University Course: Language, Text & Culture • Secondary school teacher-candidates • 1st term (English as 1st subject) • 3rd term (English as 2nd or 3rd subject) • Due to class size, participation was voluntary • 22 students participated out of 91 actively enrolled in the course.
  9. 9. 1: Contributing to the Goals of FL Education “I found that the writing skills of some commenters were below average and not quite on par with what might be expected of someone with intentions to teach the language professionally.” (Feedback from Tel Aviv student)
  10. 10. FL Learning Goals (Malmö Only)  Interaction in the Target Language  Persistence  Pushed Output (Swain, 1985)  Accuracy  Complexity
  11. 11. Activity Per Topic 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 León Tel Aviv Malmö Flipped TC Fandom Participation was voluntary
  12. 12. Persistence of Malmö Students Enrolled Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 91 enrolled > 22 participated > 10 participated in 2 sessions > 2 completed all 3
  13. 13. A Closer Look Who participated? Students who were studying English as 1st or 2nd subject Students who identified as particularly weak writers Diagnosed with dyslexia or learning disabilities Self-identified as needing to improve their English Students with a strong interest in technology Who persisted? Those who self-identified as needing to improve their English Students whose first subject was English
  14. 14. Pushed Output “Negotiating meaning needs to incorporate the notion of being pushed toward the delivery of a message that is not only conveyed, but that is conveyed precisely, coherently, and appropriately.” (Swain, 1985, 248-9)
  15. 15. Accuracy: Error Ratio Error Ratio* MIN MAX MEAN SD 0.00 0.72 0.31 0.19 *Number of grammatical errors per 10 words. (Van Beuningen, De Jong & Kuiken, 2012) Errors were primarily of the following types commonly found in academic papers from students at this level: • Agreement • Spelling • Preposition choice • Word form
  16. 16. Complexity: Word Frequency 1-500 500-3000 >3000 Academic MIN MAX MEAN SD 0.64 0.92 0.78 0.05 0.00 0.23 0.12 0.04 0.03 0.20 0.10 0.04 0.04 0.27 0.12 0.06 All 47 posts by the Malmö students were run individually through the COCA (Corpus of Contemporary American English; Davis, 2008) text analyzer to identify the distribution of high and low frequency words and academic words relative to those in the COCA.
  17. 17. Complexity: Variety & Readability Lexical Richness (Index of Guiraud) Lexical Density Gunning-Fog Index (Readability) MIN MAX MEAN SD 4.54 8.61 7.05 0.92 44.62 85.71 60.85 10.01 6.95 23.77 12.86 3.34 1. Lexical richness more comparable to that of short essays (Van Beunigen et al., 2012) than text chat (Sauro, 2012). 2. Posts were lexically dense (60% content words). 3. Posts were written between12th and 13th grade reading level (final year of schooling/first year of university in the US).
  18. 18. Personal FL Learning Goals Mediante este proyecto, yo como alumna creo que es interesante a la hora de mejorar el nivel de inglés escrito, no sólo en cuanto al vocabulario y gramática, si no también la capacidad de mantener conversaciones sobre algún tema, tanto estando de acuerdo como en contra. As a student I think this project is interesting when it comes to improving the standard of written English. Not only does it help in terms of vocabulary and grammar , but also the ability to engage in discussions about certain topics, whether or not you agree with your partners. (Feedback from León Student)
  19. 19. 2. Meeting the Needs of the 21st Century Educator “Today, because of rapid economic and social change, schools have to prepare students for jobs that have not yet been created, technologies that have not yet been invented and problems that we don’t yet know will arise.” (Andreas Schleicher, OECD Education Directorate, 2010; cited in Suto, 2013, p. 3)
  20. 20. 21st Century Skills Multiple conceptualizations in the literature “The inter-disciplinary skills most commonly regarded as essential for the 21st Century are problem-solving, ICT operations and concepts, communication, collaboration, and information literacy” (Suto, 2013, p. 22). Our focus  innovations in technology / digital literacies for teaching and learning communication and collaboration (inter)cultural awareness and learning
  21. 21. 21st Century Skills
  22. 22. Ways of Thinking Creativity and innovation, critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and learning to learn (or metacognition) “This project made me realize that learning can be not only limited by books, exercises and teachers but it can be more diverse, students may interact with other students and it is also called learning process and not entertainment.” (Reflection from Tel Aviv student) But… “It was interesting to know the opinions of other teachers, it helps anyway to share opinions and to pick ideas from others experiences. But the discussions were not so engaging maybe because everyone just wrote his own answer to the questions and no one felt like disagree with others. It is mostly when someone disagree with the other that the discussion can be interesting.” (Feedback from Malmö Student)
  23. 23. “What I liked most about the project is that you have a feeling that you do not do this task on your own but you do it all together with other students from different countries. Even though you leave your own opinion in your comment and you write it on your own, you feel that you work as a group.” (Feedback from Tel Aviv Student) Ways of Working Communication and teamwork BUT… “If I have to make any suggestion, it would be some kind of common activity between the three universities involved, an activity that in some way creates something, I mean, writing something in common (not just commenting about somethin), or something similar.” (Feedback from León Student)
  24. 24. Tools for Working General knowledge and information communication technology (ICT) literacy “It was a very interesting project because gave us the possibility to try new tools and to explore new possibilities that we can use in the future with our students. I think that is very important to have a knowledge about the possibilities that the new technologies can give us.” (Feedback from Malmö Student) . But… “I would recommend to make the interaction more direct. It would be great if students had the chance to talk to each other directly, maybe by using any service similar to skype.” (Feedback from León Student)
  25. 25. Living in the World Citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility, including cultural awareness and competence “I continue to realize how important it [technology] is in language teaching. a job interview I had just yesterday for a position teaching online … I was thrown into interacting with the online platform, and asked how much experience, and with what programs and platforms, I had with technology as a teaching tool.” (Reflection from Tel Aviv student) “ ...the discovery of the flipped classroom was a real milestone and career changer for me.” (Reflection from Tel Aviv student)
  26. 26. Living in the World Citizenship, life and career, and personal and social responsibility, including cultural awareness and competence “ “I have noticed a lot of differences between the other future FL teachers and me, and I consider that these differences have been crucial to provide me a wider perspective about FL teaching. I have been able to see problems that can appear in class from a different perspective taking into account geographical and cultural factors, and I think it has provided me a more global view of a class of FL.” (Feedback from León student) But… “I have liked the idea in general. I mean seeing what people from other parts of the world think about the same stuff i am working with, listening to their ideas, or saying he/she is right, that's a good point, I should have thought about it...yet I have the feeling that it was too short. I would have liked it to be both more intense, and maybe to get to know each other in deep.” (Feedback from León Student)
  27. 27. 3: Future Research Directions “What ways should telecollaborative researchers be framing future research studies in the area?” (O’Dowd, 2015)
  28. 28. How to Foster Teacher Identity Telecollaboration facilitates a space where student-teachers must negotiate their teacher and student identities, which student-teachers can use to gain a better understanding of their teaching Selves (Kumaravadivelu, 2012) “Having to log-in multiple times to write a comment is something easily forgotten and placed low on a priority list when seminar papers, final projects and presentations must be done.” (Feedback from Tel Aviv Student) “…it is hard when a teacher says that it is good if you do this but you don’t have to and you won’t be graded on it. As a student you have so much to do and if it is not graded it will not be prioritized and that was the case for me so only participated one time and I think that is to little to really learn or get anything out of it.” (Feedback from Malmö Student)
  29. 29. Taking OIE Beyond CALL “Unfortunately, reports of OIE activity outside of foreign language learning remain scarce ... Educators often struggle to see the value of the activity or are unable to conceptualise how such student-centred online collaboration could contribute to their coursework.” (O’Dowd, forthcoming)
  30. 30. Linguistic Landscape Analysis Hult (2009) Linguistic Landscape (LL) attempts to understand the motives, uses, ideologies, language varieties and contestations of multiple forms of ‘languages’ as they are displayed in public spaces… Bridging sociolinguistics and CALL Examination and discussion of the presence, function and salience of language in different contexts.
  31. 31. 4: Telecollaborative Initiatives from Outside CALL “What can we learn from telecollaborative initiatives which are being employed outside of CALL?” (O’Dowd, 2015)
  32. 32. Sharing Perspective Foundation “The aim of the online discussions is to have the participants reflect upon the content of the lectures from a personal perspective… and by focusing on personal experiences the participants gain insights into the impact of the topic on the lives of themselves and their peers.”
  33. 33. Personal Perspectives from the Internship “I was an intern at a school in Sweden, and the teachers didn’t have any control over the childrens computers in the classroom. The children check facebook, play games, even some was looking at porno sites, and this happened daily in the classroom.” (Malmö) “I actually experienced this problem on my practice at upper secondary school. They were having a telecollaboration in Sweden with USA and they solved the problem by having the Swedish pupils in school at 7 PM.” (Malmö) “I do not think that making students go to school in the evening is a good solution. Did parents agree? And what about students? They usually do no like going to school after hours.” (León) “I don’t know about parents but the students really liked to Skype with the pupils from USA so they did not complain, they actually did it with joy.” (Malmö)
  34. 34. Insight on the Self and Other “It was interesting to see how other students view the profession and their opinions on using modern technology in teaching. It also gave me many ideas and made me think on how I am going to design my teaching later on.” (Feedback from Malmö Student)
  35. 35. References Davies, M. (2008). The Corpus of Contemporary American English: 450 million words, 1990-present. Retrieved from: Hult, F.M. (2009). Language ecology and linguistic landscape analysis. In E. Shohamy & D. Gorter (Eds), Linguistic landscape: Expanding the scenery (pp. 88-104). London: Routledge. Kumaravadivelu, B. (2012). Language teacher education for a global society. London: Routledge. O’Dowd, R. (2015). Twenty years on and still reinventing the wheel? A critical review of Telecollaborative exchange in foreign language education. Keynote address delivered at the Eurocall Conference, Padua, Italy, August 26-29. O’Dowd, R. (Forthcoming). Looking to the future of online intercultural exchange in university education. Under review. Sauro, S. (2012). L2 performance in text-chat and spoken discourse. System, 40 335-348. Sharing Perspectives. (2015). Retrieved from: Suto, I. (2013). 21st Century Skills: Ancient, ubiquitous, enigmatic? Research Matters. A Cambridge Assessment Publication,15, 2-8. Swain, M. (1985). Communicative Competence: Some roles of Comprehensible Input and Comprehensible Output in its Development. In S. Gass & C. Madden (Eds.), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 235–253), Rowley, MA: Newbury House. Van Beuningan, C., de Jong, N.H., & Kuiken, F. (2012). Evidence on the effectiveness of comprehensive error correction in Dutch multilingual classroom. Language Learning, 62, 1-41. Slides Available At: