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Telecollaboration and University Internationalisation


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A plenary presentation at the III Innovation Conference in

Published in: Education
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Telecollaboration and University Internationalisation

  1. 1. Telecollaboration and Internationalising University Education Robert O'Dowd, Universidad de León, Spain @robodowd
  2. 2. Outline for our Presentation • A brief overview of different models of telecollaboration • What has telecollaboration contributed to university education to date? • What are the challenges for university educators? • Where can you learn more about telecollaboration and get your classes involved?
  3. 3. Trending Topics in Internationalisation (1): “Much, if not all, of the debate in higher education seems to be focussed these days on massive open online courses, or MOOCs, which according to several people should be considered nothing less than a revolutionary new model for higher education teaching and learning.” [‘Virtual Mobility without commericialisation’ Hans de Wit, 2013] [] What have been your experiences of MOOCs?
  4. 4. Trending Topics in Internationalisation (2): In 2020, at least 20% of those graduating in the European Higher Education Area should have had a study or training period abroad. [Communiqué of the Conference of European Ministers Responsible for Higher Education, Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve, 28-29 April 2009] • The current rate of mobility in Europe? • 4% -5% • The current rate of mobility in Valencia?
  5. 5. But what happens to the remaining 80%? European Commission Report: “European Higher Education in the world”: “…internationalisation should not benefit only the minority…who spend time abroad….Higher education policies must increasingly focus on the integration of a global dimension in the design and content of all curricula …to ensure that the large majority of learners who are not mobile… are nonetheless able to acquire the international skills required in a globalised world (2013:6)” But how should this be done?
  6. 6. One possible solution: Telecollaboration What is Telecollaboration? The engagement of groups of students in online intercultural interaction and collaboration with partner classes from other cultural contexts or geographical locations, under the guidance of educators and/or expert facilitators What’s in a name? •Virtual Exchange •COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) - SUNY •OIE (Online Intercultural Exchange) •eTandem •eTwinning •ePals
  7. 7. What does Telecollaboration offer universities? An Intercultural Experience for non-mobile and pre-mobile students Semi-Authentic Communicative Foreign Language Learning Opportunities for Internationalisation of the curriculum for on-campus learning
  8. 8. A collaborative alternative to MOOCs While in MOOCs the teaching stays more or less traditional, using modern technology for a global form of delivery, in COIL the technology is used to develop a more interactive and collaborative way of international teaching and learning. [Prof. Hans de Wit on COIL – An interactive alternative to MOOCS]
  9. 9. Different set-ups which Telecollaboration can take 1. A Class of learners in Germany carry out collaborative tasks online with a class of learners in the USA– using German and English 4. Students on international mobility contribute to a blog where they discuss their experiences abroad. This blog includes quetions and comments by ‘pre-mobility’ students at the home university. 3. Before leaving on mobility programmes to Europe, students from the USA are ‘matched’ and interact online with European students planning to travel to the US. 2. A class of students in Spain collaborate online with a class in USA. This is combined with week-long study visits by both groups to partner universities.
  10. 10. A practical example of Telecollaborative Exchange • Future ‘Primary school teachers’ in ULE work with Students of Spanish at University of Central Missouri, USA
  11. 11. Task 1: Representing your culture through photos… 11
  12. 12. Task 2: Discussion forums on issues related to culture and the relationship between the two countries 12
  13. 13. Task 3: Making videos for their partners on aspects of the language… 13
  14. 14. Task 4: Writing and presenting blogs about their local culture for a foreign audience 14
  15. 15. Task 5: Comparing Reactions to movies, short stories, cultural products
  16. 16. Two students’ reactions… Student 1: These months sharing opinions have given us a very different view of the United States, which we had idealized, and that, from this we have taken note that are not so different to our countries and that American films us had deceived with respect to reality. The most important thing I've learned in this Exchange has been not to judge a society without first speaking with one of its citizens… Student 2: I really enjoyed meeting new people and talk with them. I think it was a good experience. I also think that learning English with this online exchange is fun for people who don’t like English grammar and it is an alternative way of learning English. 16
  17. 17. Models of Telecollaborative Exchange in University Education E-tandem Cultura Sharing Perspectives Soliya 17
  18. 18. • Two native speakers of different languages communicate together with the aim of learning the other’s language (e.g. German- English) • Based on the principles of autonomy and reciprocity – Responsibility rests mainly with learner • Partners provide feedback on content and foreign language performance • Teacher’s role is limited – learners keep a diary and/or portfolio of their work
  19. 19. An example of an American-Spanish e-tandem Hey Pablo! It was great to receive your letter. I was so happy to see that you responded to my questions. Thank you. Your responses were very informative and definitely showed me that family life in Spain was not all I'd expected it to be (I was surprised, for example, that your family is not religious. I assumed that most families in Spain are, and I'm sure you have many assumptions about life in America as well). Your English is very good. There are only a few suggestions that I have to correct it. Some of your sentences are too long, and would make more sense if you separated them into two or three sentences instead. For example, "My parents are not divorced in Spain there are very few cases of divorced" could be rewritten as "My parents are not divorced. In Spain there are very few cases of divorce." Your letter was great and made sense despite these things. Good work. Las fiestas en the ciudad de Nueva York son muy locas y emocionantes. Voy a las discotecas con mis amigas los jueves, los viernes, o los sabados. Vamos a los bars tambien. Nosotros volvemos a nos salons de dormitorio a las cuatro de la manana. Queremos bailar a las discotecas. Necesita tener veintiuno anos por beber el alcohol pero la mayoria de estudiantes en las universidades tenen los "fake IDs" y ellos beben el alcohol. … No sabo mucho de Espana. Sabo que hay un museo de Guggenheim en Bilbao y sabo que hay muchos castillos bonitos. Que sabes de los Estados Unidos? Como es la fiesta en Espana? Elena
  20. 20. Simultaneous teletandem sessions between Georgetown University and Universidad Autonoma de Mexico (Mexico) and UNESP - Universidade Estadual Paulista (Brazil)
  21. 21. 2: The Cultura Model
  22. 22. Questionnaires for both groups in mother tongue
  23. 23. Answers to the Questionnaires
  24. 24. Analysis in class
  25. 25. Written Discussion Forums –asking for clarifications of the questionnaires • Student 1 from Spain: Most of the words used to describe the United States are: fast food, Obama and patriotism. Are you surprised with our answers? • Student 1 from Princeton: Hi! I am particularly interested in the theme of fast food. This past summer I recognized how many fast food chains exist in Spain, such as Burger King and McDonald's. From my experiences with friends…, I had heard of students who eat fast food quite regularly that were not US citizens. It is intriguing for me to see how many people responded with the impression of fast food or junk food when hearing the word United States.
  26. 26. Questioning, explaining, correcting… • Student 2 from Spain: On the one hand I think that this is because your country is really big, but on the other hand, maybe your tastes are about this kind of food. This is one of the most important reasons that the USA has got more than the 50% of its citizens with obesity, and the obesity is a really big problem talking about the health. What do you think? • Student 2 from Princeton: ….I think that perhaps the most important factor contributing to the national problem of obesity and the proliferation of fast food is the steep cost of healthy food, which might not be immediately apparent. America's reputation of prosperity might hide the hundreds of millions of Americans that cannot afford fresh fruits and vegetables. For many, fast food is the only economically viable option, and a significant contributor to nationwide health problems
  27. 27. 3: The Soliya Model – East-West Negotiations • Soliya connects over 200 students from over 30 different universities in the US, Europe and the predominantly Arab and/or Muslim worlds. • Students are placed into small groups of 8-10 students and guided through a 9-week, English language dialogue program by pairs of trained facilitators.
  28. 28. Stages of the Soliya ‘Connect Programme’ • Students meet online in groups of 8-10 for two-hour sessions each week for ten weeks. • Each group has participants from universities around the world and is led by two Soliya facilitators • Dialogue progresses from discussing culture and everyday life to delving into controversial topics • Soliya has a full academic curriculum including readings and classroom activities that complement online dialogue sessions. • Each semester concludes with a hands-on media project in which students produce short news segments. []
  29. 29. 4: Sharing Perspectives: A Content & Exchange Model
  30. 30. Stages of ‘Sharing Perspectives’ • Providing academic content Participating universities construct a shared curriculum. This curriculum is presented through video lectures by the participating educators. • Enabling online discussion After watching the video-lectures, sub-groups – of one student per participating university – come together in a web-based video-conference room, where they discuss the lectures of that week. These discussions are hosted by professionally trained facilitators. • Facilitating collaborative research Students are required to collaboratively design and conduct survey research in their own communities in order to learn about the broader societal impact of the topic.
  31. 31. Sharing Perspectives on Innovation in FL education – León, Spain; Tel Aviv, Israel and Malmo, Sweden
  32. 32. 5. Pre-Mobility Telecollaboration & Combing Virtual and Physical Mobility • Kinginger: “A particularly intriguing application of this approach… would be to establish telecollaborative courses linking students at home to their in- country peers in the precise locations where they will study abroad and thereby to establish contacts through prior, institutionally sanctioned interaction (2009: 111).”
  33. 33. Virtual International Partner (VIPs) • Students planning to take part in an Erasmus mobility are assigned a Virtual International Partner in their desired destination • The students carry out various tasks in L1 and L2 over a 2-month period using email, skype, etc. • At the end of the exchange, students submit a portfolio providing evidence of their work and reflections on their learning • Successful participants are awarded extra points for Erasmus application • Partnerships currently exist with Ireland, UK and France
  34. 34. Tasksheet 2: Finding out about your Host Country Discuss the following questions with your virtual partner. You should tell them about these aspects of your own country and they will tell you about their country. It is not obligatory to discuss all these questions – focus on the ones most interesting for you. 1. How big are your two countries? Compare the population of your two countries. 2. What are the opening times of shops and restaurants in your countries? What time do people usually have their lunch and evening meals? 3. Find out what a typical meal would be in your partner’s country. What do people usually eat at lunchtime? And what do they have for their evening meal? 4. How much do the following things cost approximately in your partner’s country? a. A coffee b. A bus/tram ticket c. A lunchtime meal in a restaurant d. A week’s groceries in a local supermarket 5. What are the main religions in your partner’s country? Does religion play an important role in society? If so, in what ways? Talk about your own country first and then you can compare with the host country.
  35. 35. Your opinions… What model would best suit your teaching context and your subject area?
  36. 36. What has research told us about the best way to apply Telecollaboration in university education? • Great potential for awareness raising of cultural differences in communicative practices – different genres, pragmatic competence etc. Learners consider their partners to be ‘people who matter’ (Belz and Kinginger, 2002, 2003). • In the context of online learning ‘exposure and awareness of difference seem to reinforce, rather than bridge, feelings of difference’ (Kern, 2000, p. 256). – Hence the need for task design and integration into classroom. • In order to contribute to students’ linguistic and intercultural development, the key is to combine online interaction with either reflective reviews of online interactions (e.g. ‘la salle de rétrospection’ Kern, 2014 ) or through pedagogic interventions by teachers (Cunningham & Vyatkina, 2012)
  37. 37. What has research told us about the best way to apply Telecollaboration in university education? (2) • Intercultural communication skills form part of ‘new literacies’ and ‘twenty-first century skills’ • However, they require attention and training in the classroom • Need to develop Online Interaction skills in students “Teaching Comments”, “Asking Questions”
  38. 38. An extract from a German-Irish exchange • A German student writes this opening message to her new partner in Ireland: • Hello, how are you? I study English and history at the University of Essen and I want to become a teacher. This term we do some cultural studies concerning Ireland and I very interested in it because I actuallly do not know much about it. • Now I would like to ask you some questions. Do you live in Northern or in Southern Ireland? How many people live in your town? Are you a Catholic or a Protestant? I have heard that regular churchgoing declines more and more in your country-is it true? • What are you doing in your free time? Do you often go to pubs? What do you think about Germans? Irish people have the reputation of being very indirect and polite in their speaking style. I have read that there was an enormous economic change in Ireland. • How have you or your parents experienced the social and economic change in the past 20 years? • That's all for now. I am looking forward to hearing from you!
  39. 39. Criticism of Telecollaboration and Exploring “Telecollaboration in the Wild” • “The limited authenticity” of simply engaging L2 learners with other classrooms. Alternatives? – Hanna and de Nooy (2009): Online interaction with native speakers on the websites of international newspapers such as Le Monde. – Sauro (2012): online fan communities – remixing etc. – Thorne (2010): ‘intercultural communication in the wild’: “…situated in arenas of social activity that are less controllable than organized online intercultural exchanges might be, but which present… compelling, opportunities for intercultural exchange”.
  40. 40. Objectives: • Carry out a review of telecollaboration in European university education • Develop a platform with tools, resources and networks to facilitate telecollaboration practice. • Develop a set of workable solutions to address the lack of academic integration of telecollaboration. An Alternative Trend: Integrate Telecollaboration more successfully into University Education INTENT Project (2011-2014) : Integrating Telecollaborative Networks Into Higher Education Financed By The European Commission - Lifelong Learning Programme
  41. 41. Study of Telecollaboration in European Universities  Three surveys:  Experienced teacher telecollaborators (102 responses)  Inexperienced teacher telecollaborators (108 responses)  Experienced student telecollaborators (131 responses)  Qualitative Case studies:  7 representative examples of telecollaboration around Europe  Aims:  Identify telecollaborative practices undertaken by European university educators  Explore the barriers to telecollaboration and the strategies used to overcome these barriers
  42. 42. “Telecollaboration Is worthwhile”: Experienced university practitioners give their feedback on telecollaboration
  43. 43. What students learn from Telecollaboration
  44. 44. Students’ comments on what they learned… • I've been practising a lot of English. I know how an email conversation is like in English. I realized I should be less influenced by cultural stereotypes. • Cross-cultural dialogue skills -negotiation and facilitation skills • Patience and cooperation. • My foreign language skills, both speaking and comprehension and some language teaching techniques. • I have developed the ability to work in a group. • I believe I‘ve developed my ability to write in a foreign language and my knowledge regarding the use of ICT in foreign language teaching. I’ve been able to expand my vocabulary. • Coordination and group work mainly (I was group leader) • J`ai developpe la capacite de travailler en groupe. •
  45. 45. So why isn’t everyone doing it?  In your opinion, what are the reasons why telecollaborative exchange is not more popular in university education?  __________________________________  (Mentioned by 49/ 98 practitioners)  __________________________________  (Mentioned by 28 / 98 practitioners)  __________________________________  (Mentioned by 20/ 98 practitioners)  __________________________________  (Mentioned by 19 / 98 practitioners)  __________________________________  (Mentioned by 9/ 98 practitioners)
  46. 46. So why isn’t everyone doing it?  In your opinion, what are the reasons why telecollaborative exchange is not more popular in university education?  Time necessary to set up and run exchanges  (Mentioned 49/ 98 practitioners)  Difficulties in integration & assessment due to institutional requirements  (Mentioned by 28 / 98 practitioners)  Lack of pedagogical knowledge about how to run and integrate exchanges  (Mentioned by 20/ 98 practitioners)  Teachers lack e-literacies/ required technological knowledge  (Mentioned by 19 / 98 practitioners)  Difficulty in finding appropriate partners  (Mentioned by 9/ 98 practitioners)
  47. 47. Educators’ comments: • “From my perspective, having done 5 different telecollaboration projects, I feel now that they are not good “on-the-side" projects because there is no time to really bring students' attention to the communication taking place and the language being shared. All of my projects felt rushed. It was frustrating, though I will say there were also good things that came of all of them.” • ...because it‘s very hard to find partners.“ • “…the cost-benefit ratio is negative for them [my colleagues]. In other words, they realise these exchanges are relevant for the students but it takes too much effort to organise it and for that reason they won’t introduce it in their teaching.”
  48. 48. Growing recognition at institution level
  49. 49. Conclusion - Future Trends in University Telecollaboration? • Greater support from university decision makers – less dependency on ‘pioneering teachers’? • New models of exchange which integrate telecollaboration with curricular content (Sharing Perspectives etc.)? • More demands for research which clearly demonstrates learning outcomes of telecollaborative initiatives… • More interest in telecollaboration for social change and for professional training
  50. 50. Join the Home of Telecollaborative Exchange for University Classrooms
  51. 51. Start here to find databanks of classes, institutions and practitioners who are interested in establishing contacts…
  52. 52. If you choose ‘classes’ then you’ll be able to search or browse a list of classes which are interested in taking part in online exchange projects...
  53. 53. Create a new class and let other practitioners read about your group and the type of exchange you’d like to have…
  54. 54. In the ‘Tasks’ tab in the top menu bar, you’ll find collections of tasks, task sequences (i.e. collections of interconnected tasks) and assessment tools to use in your online exchange projects…
  55. 55. To learn more about how online exchanges work: Click on the ‘Training’ tab in the top menu bar. Here you’ll find accounts of different exchanges (‘Sample projects’) and information on how to set up and run an exchange (‘Training modules’)
  56. 56. When you choose a sample project, click on the different tabs to read about the project, the tasks it used and how educators evaluated the project…
  57. 57. To discuss issues related to telecollaboration with colleagues: Click on ‘community’ in the top menu bar and participate in our moderated discussion forums…
  58. 58. Read more about telecollaboration… • Contact: – – Publications: – See this presentation again: • Read the INTENT Report on Telecollaboration in Europe: – – Join UNICollaboration: