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Telecollaboration: Past Present Future


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An invited lecture at the UNiversity of Coventry

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Telecollaboration: Past Present Future

  1. 1. TELECOLLABORATION: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE? Robert O'Dowd, Universidad de León, Spain
  2. 2. Plan for this afternoon • Identify some of the current challenges to foreign languages (FL) educators in Europe • Outline what me mean by ‘telecollaboration’ or ‘online intercultural exchange’ • Explore some examples from formal and informal learning contexts and different educational levels • Discuss how you might get your learners involved in such exchanges 2
  3. 3. Current trends in FL education • 1. A significant increase in access to online technologies in educational and training contexts around Europe – In 2006 67% of schools reported having broadband connections in their schools (Commission of the European Communities, 2008: 23–34). • 2. The emergence of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis and podcasts as an essential part of foreign language education • 3. The acceptance of the importance of cultural awareness in foreign language education (See, for example, the importance of intercultural competence in Council of Europe’s European Language Portfolio and the Autobiography of intercultural encounters. • 4. The paradigm of language learning as a sociocultural process which is best facilitated through semi-authentic, purposeful communicative events (Dooly & O’Dowd, 2012) • 5. The merger of foreign language competence and e-literacies as integral components of the new skills required in global workplace: Instead of using technologies simply to learn foreign languages, learners need to learn how to combine both foreign language skills and e-skills to be able to work and collaborate in new contexts 3
  4. 4. Exploit the availability of ICT and Web 2.0 tools Need to provide authentic communicative opportunities for learners Challenges for FL Educators Need to develop cultural awareness and intercultural competence Develop the skills of 21st century workplace 4
  5. 5. Student mobility in Europe 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) But what happens to the remaining 80%?
  6. 6. Telecollaboration: International Online Learning from the classroom • In Language Learning & Technology (2003) Belz defines the main characteristics of FL telecollaboration: • ‘institutionalized, electronically mediated, intercultural communication under the guidance of a languacultural expert (i.e., teacher) for the purposes of foreign language learning and the development of intercultural competence’ (2003: 2). 6
  7. 7. How does Telecollaboration contribute to Foreign Language Education? Research studies show its value for development of: •Learner autonomy (O’Rourke, 2007) •Linguistic competence (Belz and Kinginger, 2003, Ware and O’Dowd, 2008) •Intercultural competence (Mueller-Hartmann, 2000; O’Dowd, 2003; Ware, 2005) •Online literacy skills (Guth and Helm, 2010; Hauck, 2007). Success at primary and secondary levels through networks such as etwinning and ePals. Let’s see how it works: Two examples of Spanish-American telecollaborative exchanges Example 1 comes from Pre-primary education Example 2 comes from university education
  8. 8. Example 1: Pre-Primary Exchange through Epals
  9. 9. A reply to Noelia from the USA • • • Hello Ms. Iglesias, We are a class of 23 students ages 5-6 years old in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, United States. My students will finish their first year of school in just a few weeks and they are eager to share some of their favorite memories and experiences from this year. In addition to sharing their favorite kindergarten memories, we will be taking a field trip to the zoo next week. I'm sure my students will want to write about it and send pictures. Even though we will only be able to communicate a few times before the end of our school year, I think it would be a valuable experience for both sets of students. Please let me know if you are interested and have a wonderful day. Sincerely, Emily Tomkins
  10. 10. • HI EMILY! My pupils are very happy. I told them about the new friends in Dakota and they feel very excited.We were looking in the map where South Dakota is. They want to know something about all of you and your school. We were negotiating the questions in order they can improve their English. Besides this, they want to "teach" you some Spanish words. I wrote all the questions on the whiteboard and now you will see all of them below: What are your names? What is the name of your school? What colour is your classroom? What´s the weather like in Dakota? How old is your school? Good bye, kisses Oscar, Sofia C, Sofia V, Alvaro, Loreto, Fernando, CArmen y Lucía. Teacher: Noelia SPANISH WORDS THEY WANT TO TEACH YOU: HOLA (Hello) ADIÓS (Good bye) BESOS (Kisses)
  11. 11. • Hello Noelia! My students were so excited to read your letter last Friday! We loved all of the good questions your students thought of. My students are going to have to do some research to find out how old our school is. It was interesting for them to try to develop a plan for how to find that information. Some of them are going to ask their parents to help them find the answer on the computer and others have decided to interview different staff members at our school. They loved learning new words. That was a great idea! My kiddos thought it was very interesting that your students were learning English in school. They are excited to learn a new language too. • We put a sticker on top of Leon on our world map in the class room as well as a sticker on top of Sioux Falls. They were amazed to see how far away you live. … Have a wonderful weekend and adios! Emily
  12. 12. • • • Reflections by Noelia in Spain: • Anyway, we could exchange some information and my children could realize the main purpose of learning English: communicate with people from other cultures. Learning this language let the children know more about other children, just like them, who live in other countries and who love to have new friends and have fun. • I was surprised how my students were thinking about the questions to ask them in order to get some information from them, from their school and from their classroom. The brain storming first and the negotiation next, let me feel so proud about them because they were doing a very good cognitive process…...speaking English for a real purpose!!! • My students were very involved in this experience. Everyday they asked me: “Teacher, ¿Nos han escrito los amigos de Dakota?”. I girl told me she had told her mum about the new experience and she did not relieve her. I could never imagine it was going to be so excited, easy, quick, attractive and useful . My students and me could be in touch with another culture, another country, another school, another classroom with twenty three children and a very kind teacher with out living our school!! • This has been a wonderful experience for me as a teacher, and for my students.
  13. 13. Example 2: University-level exchange • Future ‘Primary school teachers’ in ULE (B1 level) work with Students of Spanish in Missouri, USA: • Task 1: Upload and discuss a photo or video which tells the other group something about your home culture • Task 2: Participate in two discussion forums – one in English and one in Spanish. • Task 3: In groups of four, create a blog with images, text and links about an aspect of life in Spain/USA. Post your reactions and some language corrections to your American partners’ blogs. • Task 4: Write an essay (300 words) on what you have learned from the exchange.
  14. 14. 16
  15. 15. Task 1: Upload and discuss a photo… 17
  16. 16. Task 2: Discussion forums 18
  17. 17. Making short videos for their partners… 19
  18. 18. Writing and designing blogs about their local culture for a foreign audience 20
  19. 19. Two students’ reactions… 1. My opinion about this Exchange is very positive; it has made me consider to use it in my future English classes with my students. 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 speak with one of its citizens… 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 and it is an alternative way of learning English. 21
  20. 20. Potential for informal learning? Some examples of Telecollaboration 2.0 • • • • Thorne et al. ( 2009 ): online fan communities, where learners can establish relationships with like-minded fans of music groups or authors and can even use Web 2.0 technologies to remix and create new artistic creations based on existing books, films and music. Hanna and de Nooy ( 2009 ): Learners use their FL skills and hone their intercultural communicative competence through participating in online public discussion forums of French newspapers and magazines Pasfi eld-Neofi tou ( 2011 ): analyses blogs, emails, chat conversations, game profi les and mobile phone communications between 12 Australian learners of Japanese with Japanese partners they had contacted outside of their formal learning environment. Stickler, U., & Emke, M. (2011): The Literalia project involves institutions in four countries in a multinational and multicultural network of learners to further intercultural maturity. All participants were adults learning voluntarily in nonformal and informal settings. 22
  21. 21. “Intercultural Learning in the wild” • This type of telecollaboration may be ‘situated in arenas of social activity that are less controllable than classroom or organized online intercultural exchanges might be, but which present interesting, and perhaps even compelling, opportunities for intercultural exchange…and meaning making’ (Thorne, 2010 , p. 144). 23
  22. 22. The Challenges of Informal Telecollaborative Learning • How can learners receive ‘credit’ or recognition for their informal telecollaborative work? – badges? • How can learners establish regular and dependable virtual partnerships? • How can learners with relatively low levels of electronic literacy engage in telecollaboration 2.0 activities involving the remixing of multimedia objects and participation in publicaccess ‘fan sites’ and public internet discussion forums? 24
  23. 23. Support and Networking for Primary and Secondary Educators 25
  24. 24. Attending to the needs of University Practitioners INTENT (Integrating Telecollaborative Networks Into Foreign Language Higher Education ) Financed By The European Commission - Lifelong Learning Programme  Objectives:  Carry out a survey of telecollaboration in European universities  Develop a platform and set of tools to overcome barriers and facilitate telecollaboration in universities  Develop a set of workable solutions to address the lack of academic integration in Europe 26
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  26. 26. Why integrate telecollaboration into your university classrooms? For Students: Development of FL competence, intercultural awareness, electronic literacies For University Educators: Opening up of classroom / Authentic communication and project work / Developing international network of collaborators For Mobility Officers: Preparation for physical mobility/ Alternative to physical mobility For University Management: ‘Low cost’ internationalisation strategy / Opening up new university partnerships
  27. 27. How does Telecollaboration contribute to Foreign Language Education? Research studies show its value for development of: • Learner autonomy (O’Rourke, 2007) • Linguistic competence (Belz and Kinginger, 2003; Ware and O’Dowd, 2008) • Intercultural competence (Mueller-Hartmann, 2000; O’Dowd, 2003; Ware, 2005) • Online literacy skills (Guth and Helm, 2010; Hauck, 2007) • Independent and informal learning - online fan communities (Thorne et al., 2009), SpeakApps tools (
  28. 28. What impact is Telecollaboration making in European universities?  Guth, Helm & O’Dowd (2012):   Online surveys from December 2011 - February 2012 in 4 languages  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
  29. 29. What students learn from Telecollaboration
  30. 30. Students’ voices… • • • • • • 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 My English skills, both speaking and comprehension and some language teaching techniques. I have developed the ability to work in a group . That the cultural values of a country/region/family/person are not necessarily the "best or only" ones, and that we can indeed explore and appreciate other views and experiences. We are so different and no one could ever guess how this difference will show up…
  31. 31. Internationalisation… • Report of the High Level Expert Forum on mobility : • “Virtual mobility is widely available, quick and cheap. Nevertheless, physical mobility provides a more intensive and deeper experience and is, therefore, irreplaceable. Developing the synergies between virtual and physical mobility is a central art of a new way of life’ (2008: 11)”.
  33. 33. An example of ‘blended mobility’ - Integrating mobility students into faculty’s study activities • “The Spanish-American Cultura Exchange” • University of León – Barnard College, University of Colombia, New York • EFL students at León + Spanish students at Barnard • Combining virtual and physical mobility
  34. 34. Spanish-American Cultura Combining On-line and Physical Contact Mobility • January-March: On-line Exchange (1) – Project work – videos, essay etc. – Online interaction between both classes • March: Group from New York visit León • April: Group from León visit New York • April: New Materials collected/created by students are added to on-line platform • April-May: On-line Exchange (2). Analysis of new materials • Following year: Previous year’s materials available for new groups of learners….
  35. 35. Exploiting Students’ Visits One week study visit to partner university by 6 students. This includes: •Home-stays with families •Visiting students attend various classes: Presentations in their native language / participation in class activities •Interviewing of local residents •Organised tours and visits with host class as ‘guides’
  36. 36. Feeding back to the on-line Platform – for next year’s participants • Favourite photos and their commentaries • Videos of presentations • Essays based on ethnographic interviews
  37. 37. Different set-ups which telecollaboration can take 1. A class of EFL learners in France carry out collaborative tasks online with a class of learners in Ireland – using French and English 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. 3. Before leaving on mobility programmes to the UK, students from Italy are ‘matched’ and interact online with British students planning to travel to Italy. 4. Students on Erasmus 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.
  38. 38. Why isn’t everyone doing it?  In our survey, we asked European telecollaborating teachers what were the reasons why telecollaborative exchange was 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)
  39. 39. 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)
  40. 40. Teachers’ voices… • “... institutions are not aware of its potential and needs. Those teachers carrying out innovative teaching practice are not in a position of power and cannot make decisions which impact on their institution”. • “… the idea sounds interesting, but the teachers involved need to dedicate much time and energy to the exchange, so finally they won't do it. The student's motivation won't last long if it is not a credited course“. • • “It is essential to find a partner with similar aims, able to adapt programs to different institutional expectations (amount of homework done by students for example), willing to adapt to technical disturbances (network disturbances, computer crashes), and to some extent lose or share control of class dynamics. The partners must build a program that satisfies needs, levels and interests of both classes.”
  41. 41. 7 Case Studies of European University Telecollaboration
  42. 42. Key to integration 1 – Build-up reliable and steady partnerships • Trinity College in Ireland - the Irish teachers ensured that they developed a good-working relationship not only with the telecollaborative partner-teachers in Germany, but also with the director of the German department • Many Tcers establish partnerships through the use of personal networks as opposed to using more formal institutional contacts with other universities • The V-PAL project in Manchester, UK: Tcer ensured the development of steady partnerships with her colleagues in Italy by signing contract agreements with them which outlined the basic structure of the course and ensured the commitment of the collaborating partner-teachers to maintain the exchange until its conclusion
  43. 43. Key to integration 2 – Raise awareness and prestige of the exchange • the SpEakWise exchange at Trinity College, Ireland, applied for and was awarded The European Language Label, an EU-funded award which recognises innovative ways to improve the quality of language teaching and learning • Warwick University, UK, the Clavier project requested an announcement in the local press about the launch of the project and also ensured that the project was known about in administrative circles of their home institution • In Sweden, the SW-US exchange between engineering students and students of English is mentioned in division assessment procedures and it is cited in department activity plans under the context of ‘continued international collaboration’
  44. 44. Key to integration 3 – Use telecollaboration creatively to adapt to local institutions’ needs • Padova: Telecollaboration served as a substitute for student work placements. Students in large-sized language classes in were offered 3 ECTS for telecollaboration as an alternative to work placements. • In the SW-US exchange - “All engineering programmes have an MTS (Man, Technology, and Society) requirement. The blog exchange gives students first a real authentic audience with which to interact in interpreting society… Their encountering students from the humanities tends to serve as powerful insights into MTS and that their technologically infused perspective is fruitfully combined with other perspectives.”
  45. 45. Key to integration 4 – Achieve credit or recognition for the students’ telecollaborative work • V-PAL project at Manchester - optional courses which are offered along with the core language courses. Each course lasts one semester and is worth 10 UK credits. • University of Latvia: a fully recognised course (6 ECTS) which is entirely based around her students’ online interaction with the partner class of trainee French teachers in Grenoble, France • The TransAtlantic network ensures that students receive a percentage of the total course credit for their work • Tcer at Manchester University: “To be honest, unless it becomes a credit-bearing module, staff will have to do it above their day-to-day workload, which could become unfeasible (and it did exactly that for me, which is why – partly – I wanted to get formal recognition for them).”
  46. 46. Key to integration 5 – Link telecollaboration to broader international activity Telecollaboration can be more effectively integrated into a university if it is linked in some ways to the local institutions’ other international activities: • Senior management at Manchester: “...this kind of project can play a part in raising the institution’s international profile. It is conceivable, for instance, that links established via V-PAL could develop into full-blown ERASMUS exchange agreements...”. • The universities of Riga and Grenoble - a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ for staff and student mobility thanks to their telecollaborative partnerships. • Chalmers University in Sweden: their exchange with Clemson University, South Carolina had served to enhance academic links between educators at their two institutions. For example, they had received several visits from these partner faculties in the USA .
  47. 47. Reliable and steady partnerships Adapty exchange to the needs and international activitiees of the institution Keys to Integration Provide teachers and students with credit for their work on exchange Prestige and Recognition of exchanges at institutional level
  48. 48. Read more… • • O'Dowd, R., Telecollaborative networks in university higher education: Overcoming barriers to integration, Internet and • Higher Education (2013), 001