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Student Perspectives on Intercultural Learning from an Online Teacher Education Partnership

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This study reports on intercultural learning from the perspective of student participants in an online teacher education partnership which brought together student teachers in five countries to explore and discuss technological innovations in language teaching. The student perspectives reported upon here were drawn from one intact class of graduate students who participated in this telecollaboration as part of a required sociolinguistics course, in which the telecollaboration served as a discussion point for course themes (e.g. language ideologies, language socialization, multimodal literacy, gender identities and language education, and language and ethnicity, etc.).

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Student Perspectives on Intercultural Learning from an Online Teacher Education Partnership

  1. 1. Student Perspectives on Intercultural Learning from an Online Teacher Education Partnership Shannon Sauro Malmö University, Sweden shannon.sauro@mah.se |@shansauro | mah.academia.edu/ShannonSauro | ssauro.info
  2. 2. ““It would be good to know what kind of ‘intercultural’ exchange is actually fostered through telecollaboration or whether telecollaboration is mostly like to reinforce stereotypes in mostly monologic postings?” (Reviewer comment quoted in O’Dowd, 2015 August) Intercultural Learning Is what we are doing as effective as we think it is?
  3. 3. “…interaction using social technology has not necessarily resulted in intercultural learning…. The tasks involved students in exchanges across cultures and placed culture at the heart of these exchanges, but the intercultural learning was supposed to happen as an automatic result of communication or engagement with others. In other words, the tasks were set up as cultural tasks – that is, tasks that focused on factual information … rather than as intercultural tasks that involved learners in moving between cultures and reflecting on their own cultural positioning…” (Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013, p. 117) Critique of OIE Inadequate support for intercultural learning
  4. 4.  Current OIE research does not assume that the online interaction is the site where intercultural learning necessarily occurs.  Integration of online and classroom contexts and facilitator support are integral.  Incorporation of reflective pedagogical components allow for increased learning opportunities. (O’Dowd, 2016) Counterpoint Greater attention must be paid to the learning that takes place off-line
  5. 5.  5 country teacher-education partnership  Expanded from a 3 country partnership (Sauro, Spector-Cohen & O’Dowd, 2015 August)  Inspired by the Sharing Perspectives Model of Exchange (Sharing Perspectives, 2015).  Three goals:  Expert sharing of technology for teaching English  Development of linguistic & intercultural competence  Hands on experience with CALL resources The Partnership Innovations in Foreign Language Education
  6. 6. 1. In what ways did the partnership influence understanding of other cultures? 2. In what ways did the partnership foster critical reflection of the students' own culture? Guiding Questions Can intercultural learning be found in a teacher education partnership
  7. 7.  One hour of each 3 hour class meeting was dedicated to the discussion of the telecollaboration.  Course themes were used as a lens for these discussions.  A more autonomous, learner-centered approach (Dooly, forthcoming) was used: students were not graded on participation.  The threaded discussions served as data for students’ small-scale sociolinguistic studies. The Course in Sweden Sociolingvistik i undervisningskontext Sociolinguistics in Educational Contexts
  8. 8. Focal Participants Intact class of 5th year students in a BA/MA program in secondary teacher education who are specializing in teaching English Doctor Vem Andy Pandy Regina Phalange Jerome Samglide Vondollars
  9. 9.  Five audio recordings of class discussions  Tape analysis – Note-taking while listening but no transcription (Dörnyei, 2007)  One semi-structured group interview  Romantic approach – “in which the interviewer strives to develop rapport with interviewees in an effort to generate authentic, in-depth dialog that focuses on participants’ meanings” (Roulson, 2011, p. 78)  Discussion board posts  The completed popular science papers resulting from the small scale sociolinguistics study  Analytic memos Data & Analysis An ethnographic approach
  10. 10. Regina: No. Cause I almost had the same and I asked, oh, why did you pick different examples for boys and girls and the person just answered, because boys might think that love stories are cheesy. And so I was like, okay. But I didn’t ask again. Doctor: So you didn’t really prod the question then. Regina: No. I mean, I thought I was clear the first time. And when I got the response I didn’t feel like asking. Doctor: I didn’t want to imply that you were unclear. You didn’t force yourself. Regina: No. Like please answer again. (Interview 14 January 2016) 1. Not Forcing the Question
  11. 11. Regina’s Study “When we did the research on the Schoology posts, I got very aware of how I write my own posts. Because I realize that I maybe was a bit scared of conflict and I should have just asked more questions or been a bit more pushed more towards having an answer and not just again a comment back.“ -Regina (Interview 14 January 2016)
  12. 12. Jerome: I guess the most striking one. Well, I have two but I’ll start with one. Is of course the guy who just entered the forum and posted three scientific articles. Andy: Literally. Jerome: Literally. Samglide: Conclusion and everything. Jerome: …I remember, I saw his post and I was like, what’s this guy. I’d never seen him because he’d never appeared before. But I felt that I need to do something, I need to write. So I responded and later that evening, I got a really good response from him where he really addressed the questions I asked, he developed my ideas. He was giving me a really good response which I hadn’t gotten before and I was happy. (Interview 14 January 2016) 2. A really good response
  13. 13. Jerome’s Study “Though, I still find it alarming that explicit disagreement was so scarce. It means that, contrary to what I hypothesized, disagreement does not seem to be required for discussion to occur. It seems that agreement, or neutrality, plus other characteristics, like development (see below), is just as efficient at generating discussion..“ -Jermone (Sociolinguistic Study, 11 January 2016) 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Agreement Disagreement Agreement/Disagre ement Graph 1. Amount of replies that would agree or disagree with preceding post(s).
  14. 14. Andy: See, I still think it’s a culture thing because I think we live in a much more unipolar political culture where Samglide: But who are these we? Are you talking Swedes now? Andy: Swedes now. Samglide: Because I’m talking sarcasm. I’m talking Reddit. I’m talking Imgur. I’m talking all of these international places. Andy: No, no, no. I get that. Samglide: That’s where they use it. I didn’t learn it from Sweden. Andy: No, I think the reason why I interpreted the written text differently from you was because of my background. And you interpreted it one way because of your background. Samglide: Okay. Yeah. Of course. (Interview 14 January 2016) 3. In Class Conflict
  15. 15. Samglide’s Multiple Cultures “I learned that even though we’re both Swedes, me and Andy think very different from each other. Culture is as much group as it is individual. You can belong to a lot of different cultures and even though you belong to the same, the others you belong to will color your views so much that it’s still not translated perfectly between each other.“ -Samglide (Interview 14 January 2016)
  16. 16. Jerome’s Nuanced Understanding “I feel that I’ve experienced a lot of different views and opinions about the online culture. I feel that that is where I have nuanced my perception of cultures or my experience of culture.“ -Jerome (Interview 14 January 2016)
  17. 17. Doctor Vem’s Shift “I’d say that I definitely view our culture in a different light, in a, it might not be okay to say, but in a more impressive light…when I go out to schools you often hear, or rather what I remember, are negative comments about the teaching experiences and students and so on, but when we talked about it and we compared other cultures and heard from other countries, when we came to, for example, gender or inter-relational skills with students, it felt like we were very encompassing in how we viewed the learning experience. That we take on a lot of different perspectives, which a lot of countries do as well, but not as progressively as we do. “ -Doctor Vem (Interview 14 January 2016)
  18. 18. Andy’s Change in Perspective “...it genuinely feels like what we perceive as uniquely Swedish with this school crisis is really the same everywhere. There seems to be this shared experience of public educators working in slightly underfunded schools and wanting to do all this stuff, but there just isn’t money…. And there are these structural things, obstacles I guess, for everyone. And for a long time I genuinely thought that was just something Swedish.“ -Andy Pandy (Interview 14 January 2016)
  19. 19. D A R S J Intercultural attitudes X X Knowledge of social groups and practices in one’s own and in one’s interlocutor’s country X X Skills of interpreting and relating X X X Skills of discovery and interaction Critical cultural awareness X X X X Self-Evaluation of Learning Applying Byram (1997) to their own experiences
  20. 20. 1. In what ways did the partnership influence understanding of other cultures?  Through in class conflict that arose through analysis of discussion board postings.  Through online discussion regarding technology and resource challenges common across contexts. 2. In what ways did the partnership foster critical reflection of the students' own culture?  In class conflict that arose through analysis of discussion board postings.  Analysis of students’ own interactional styles through a small-scale sociolinguistics project.  Through online and offline discussions invoking educational norms and relationships between students and teachers. In Sum Where did intercultural learning appear to occur?
  21. 21.  Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.  Dooly, M. (forthcoming). Telecollaboration. In C.A. Chapelle & S. Sauro (Eds.), The handbook of technology in second language teaching and learning. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.  Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  Liddicoat, A.J., & Scarino, A. (2013). Intercultural language teaching and learning. Malden, MA: Wiley- Blackwell.  O’Dowd, R. (2016). Learning from the past and looking to the future of online intercultural exchange. In R. O’Dowd & T. Lewis (Eds.), Online intercultural exchange: Policy, pedagogy, practice (pp. 273-293). New York: Routledge.  O’Dowd, R. (2015, August). Twenty years on and still reinventing the wheel? A critical review of telecollaborative exchange in FL education. Paper presented at the annual meeting of Eurocall, Padova, Italy. Video retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwCsUAytOB8.  Roulson, K. (2011). Interview ‘problems’ as topics for analysis. Applied Linguistics, 32(1), 77-94.  Sauro, S., Spector Cohen, E., & O’Dowd, R. (2015, August). Innovations in teaching? A critical look at a three-country teacher education partnership. Paper presented at the annual meeting of Eurocall, Padova, Italy.  Sharing Perspectives. (2015). Retrieved from: http://www.sharingperspectivesfoundation.com/ References Slides Available At: http://www.slideshare.net/Shansauro
  22. 22.  “Beyond school and work, I enjoy traveling (like most of you!), watching movies and TV-shows (like most of you!), and follow the U.S. presidential politics (like some of you?). In late January of next year, I plan to combine two of these things and go to Iowa for the caucus.”– Andy Pandy  “Spain I have already visited once and, while beautiful, was too hot for my Viking-genes to handle, sorry. – Doctor Vem  “I've lived a short while in both Scotland and England and I lived 3 years in Lund to study at their University, but I keep coming back to Malmö.”- Samglide Vondollars  “Last year I was on exchange studies in Toronto Canada where I went to X University...” – Regina Phalange  “I am not much for traveling and have not been much abroad, Denmark and Germany being the only two countries I have visited.” – Jerome (Discussion Board Intro Posts, 10-11 November 2015) Student Backgrounds
  23. 23.  “Through learning about others, you learn about yourself.” – Andy Pandy  “You view yourself through different cultural mirrors. See the differences and similarities.” – Doctor Vem  “It’s not about using others to view yourself. It’s trying to take an outside approach to all of it no matter who you are. It’s just kind of trying to be objective when it’s impossible to be it.”- Samglide Vondollars  “Learning through culture, like your own. When you become aware of your own culture, you can learn from someone else’s culture.” – Regina Phalange  “I think one aspect of intercultural learning is kind of nuancing what culture means and interculture means…I think it’s important to talk about what we mean about culture and culture not being equal to countries.” – Jerome (Interview 14 January 2016) Student Definitions

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