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The Multi-Faceted Focus of International Collaborations

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This was a talk I gave at the COIL Conference at Purchase College SUNY, NY on Nov 14, 2008. It discusses the importance of considering culture and collaboration when designing international collaborations and details what needs to be considered in the process.

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The Multi-Faceted Focus of International Collaborations

  1. 1. The Multi-Faceted Focus of International Collaborations Sarah Guth EFL teacher University of Padova, Italy 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  2. 2. <ul><li>In the dynamically evolving and turbulent global culture, multiple literacies necessitate multicultural literacies , being able to understand and work with a heterogeneity of cultural groups and forms, acquiring literacies in a multiplicity of media , and gaining the competences to participate in a democratic culture and society. </li></ul><ul><li>(Kellner 2002:166) </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  3. 3. changing concepts of ‘literacy’ <ul><li>Students in today's so-called 'information society’ need new skills and knowledge. These have been defined as: </li></ul><ul><li>information literacy (Shapiro and Hughes, 1996) </li></ul><ul><li>digital literacy (Gilster, 1997; Lanham, 1995) </li></ul><ul><li>electronic literacy (Shetzer & Warschauer 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>silicon literacy (Schneider, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>participation literacy (Giger, 2006). </li></ul><ul><li>multiliteracies (Kalantzis & Cope, 1997) </li></ul><ul><li>new literacies (Lankshear & Knobel  2006) to describe the operational skills and cultural knowledge needed to effectively function in today’s world </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  4. 4. new online literacies 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College New literacies (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006) OPERATIONAL Define, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create, communicate, (ETS) share and collaborate CULTURAL Ability to understand texts in relation to contexts of practice; appropriateness CRITICAL AWARENESS Ability to identify the origins of, critically interpret, and evaluate social practices Intercultural comunicative competence (Byram, 2001) SAVOIR APRRENDRE/FAIRE Ability to acquire and operate new knowledge of a culture SAVOIR-ETRE Attitude of openness and curiosity SAVOIR Knowledge of groups and their products SAVOIR-COMPRENDRE Ability to relate texts C2 to C1 SAVOIR S’ENGAGER The ability to critically evaluate perspectives, practices and products in C2 and C1
  5. 5. collaboration <ul><li>Cooperation vs. collaboration (Harris, 2002) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Which is easier? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which draws upon and develops learners’ higher-level social learning and problem-solving skills and requires higher-level thinking and interaction ? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Most popular tasks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>students do related activities in different places and at different times, then view others’ similar products, data, or activities online </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>analysis (comparison, contrast, reflection, critique, etc.) takes place within each participating classroom and not across borders </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Least popular tasks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>require interaction online between or among participating classrooms over an extended period of time </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>require active and ongoing coordination between educators to be successful </li></ul></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  6. 6. new pedagogies: telecollaboration 2.0 <ul><li>Outside of education: </li></ul><ul><li>the Internet, and especially Web 2.0, has led to a change in the way knowledge is created and, some argue (Benkler 2006) in the very nature of knowledge itself (Siemens 2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Within educational institutions: </li></ul><ul><li>the predominant paradigm continues to be the one-way transmission and prescriptivist organization of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>when new technologies are used, the 'technology-mediated literacy practices' that are adopted &quot;reflect a strong tendency to perpetuate the old, rather than to engage with and refine or re-invent the new&quot; (Lankshear & Knobel 2006: 55) </li></ul><ul><li>One possible solution: Telecollaboration 2.0 (Guth & Helm forthcoming) </li></ul><ul><li>internet-based intercultural exchange between people of different cultural/national backgrounds set up in an institutional context with the aim of developing (both language skills and) intercultural communicative competence through structured tasks/activities </li></ul><ul><li>the approach to the exchange is driven by the ideals that characterize Web 2.0: sharing, openness, collective intelligence, flexibility and collaboration </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  7. 7. implementing telecollaboration 2.0 <ul><li>Planning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Task design </li></ul></ul><ul><li>During the exchange </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teacher communication </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In-class activities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Following the exchange </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Questionnaires </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ICC assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning for the next project </li></ul></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  8. 8. planning: working together <ul><li>Are you both/all on board? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>expectations / commitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>calendar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>task design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online collaborative competence 1 : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ability to articulate the learning objectives and beliefs which lie behind their proposed goals and tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>an openness to alternative pedagogical beliefs and aims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a willingness to adapt as much as possible to other approaches </li></ul></ul>1 - O'Dowd & Ware, in press 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  9. 9. planning: goals <ul><li>course goals vs. exchange goals: either or both? </li></ul><ul><li>exchange goals: include a focus on cultural issues and collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Tridem Exchange (UniPD-Italy, SVSU-USA, PUT-Poland) </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College In addition to each course’s individual outcomes, the Project is designed to achieve the following objectives in student learning: Develop an international perspective on current issues Build collaboration skills in multinational groups Increase competence in the use of technology in collaborative settings Enhance research and writing skills in a collaborative context For PUT and UniPD students:  Enhance English language skills through content – CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) approach
  10. 10. tools: LMS or Web 2.0? 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College Centralized learning in a closed LMS, CMS, VLE. Distributed learning in the open, participatory social Web. <ul><li>Easy course creation and management </li></ul><ul><li>Repositories of learning materials </li></ul><ul><li>Self-contained system </li></ul><ul><li>Protected platform </li></ul><ul><li>Institution controlled </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher-centric </li></ul><ul><li>Personalized </li></ul><ul><li>Student-controlled/owned </li></ul><ul><li>Overlap into personal spheres </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative working spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Technician-independent </li></ul><ul><li>Myriad of tools </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy? </li></ul>Diagrams by Stephen Downes (2006) http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper92/paper92.html
  11. 11. tools: my choice 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College Interculture wiki Public blog Skype <ul><li>course platform </li></ul><ul><li>collective authoring </li></ul><ul><li>*integrated with social bookmarking on del.icio.us </li></ul><ul><li>learner diaries (personal blogs) </li></ul><ul><li>group discussions (personal/group blogs) </li></ul><ul><li>synchronous oral and text chat </li></ul><ul><li>discussions for project work </li></ul><ul><li>real audience beyond the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>work-in-progress: resources for others </li></ul><ul><li>student access post course </li></ul><ul><li>student ownership and control of contents </li></ul><ul><li>everyone (teachers and students) can edit </li></ul><ul><li>student access post course </li></ul><ul><li>student ownership and control of contents </li></ul><ul><li>free (home use) </li></ul><ul><li>recording using Pamela </li></ul>
  12. 12. Task design (1) <ul><li>Tasks have to be designed in such a way as to lead to: </li></ul><ul><li>14 November 2008 </li></ul>COIL Conference, Purchase College <ul><li>Effective online learning </li></ul><ul><li>The 5 stage model for online learning </li></ul><ul><li>(Salmon, 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Achievement of exchange goals </li></ul><ul><li>Achievement of course goals </li></ul><ul><li>Effective collaboration </li></ul><ul><li>Models for telecollaborative tasks </li></ul><ul><li>(O’Dowd & Ware, in press; Harris, 2002) </li></ul><ul><li>In-class activities </li></ul><ul><li>(Furstenberg, forthcoming) </li></ul><ul><li>Effective development of ICC and new literacies </li></ul><ul><li>Follow framework for ICC and new literacies </li></ul>
  13. 13. task design (2) 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College Gilly Salmon’s (2001) 5 stage model <ul><li>Task sequencing </li></ul><ul><li>attend to various learning objectives in an exchange </li></ul><ul><li>a combination of task types can expose learners gradually to different aspects of intercultural communication </li></ul><ul><li>use tasks with a gradually increasing degree of interactivity and personal relationships </li></ul>O’Dowd & Ware (2008) Harris (2002) Collaboration and Product Creation Problem Solving Activities Comparison and Analysis Interpersonal Exchanges Information Exchange Information Collection and Analysis
  14. 14. task design (3): putting it together 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College Week 1-2 3-4 5-9 5-stage model Access & motivation Online socialisation Information exchange Knowledge construction Development Telecoll. Categories Information Exchange Comparison & Analysis Collaboration & Product Creation New literacies Operational Cultural Operational Cultural Critic. awareness Operational Cultural Critic. awareness Task Cultural autobiographies Comparing responses to cultural questionnaires Collaborating on creation of wiki pages comparing a cultural aspects ICC Savoir etre Savoir Savoir comp. Savoir etre Savoir Savoir s’engager Savoir etre, apprendre, comprendre, s’engager, savoir Pros Establishment of personal relationship with partners / Increased awareness of cultural differences Development of awareness of different cultural meanings & connotations of words & concepts in C1 & C2 Development of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) / electronic literacy Pitfalls Students reify stereotypes in their presentations Superficial contrasts made unless the instructor guides the conversation Requires teamwork among students & therefore reciprocity
  15. 15. during the exchange <ul><li>In order to avoid the possible pitfalls of the task design: </li></ul><ul><li>Constant teacher communication </li></ul><ul><li>- email, Skype, teacher’s learner diary (google docs) </li></ul><ul><li>- monitoring of online group & individual work, e-moderating </li></ul><ul><li>- flexibility to make adjustments to groups, deadlines, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>- research (how I translated everything!) </li></ul><ul><li>In-class activities </li></ul><ul><li>- student training in how to effectively use online tools (e.g. forums) and how to collaborate </li></ul><ul><li>- class discussions on culture </li></ul><ul><li>Student learner diaries for reflection on cultural learning </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College Pitfalls Students reify stereotypes in their presentations Superficial contrasts made unless the instructor guides the conversation Requires teamwork among students & therefore reciprocity
  16. 16. teacher communication: learner diary 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  17. 17. in-class activities <ul><li>Collaboration training within the class </li></ul><ul><ul><li>group assignments before the exchange </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technical training </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how to use the wiki </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how to effectively use discussion forums </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learning from difficulties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>noticing the different ways students collaborate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>discussing how to proceed when things aren’t working </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Class debates </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. students are asked to find different information from their peers during a Skype session, then come back and share information in class </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reading each other’s learner diaries followed by discussion </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  18. 18. learner diaries: cultural learning 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  19. 19. learner diaries: insight for teachers 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  20. 20. towards the end… <ul><li>Assessment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>exchange assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>collaboration: group, peer and self assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ICC assessment: self-assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Careful data analysis to adapt and improve exchange for next time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teacher diary </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner diaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ICC assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner-produced content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questionnaires </li></ul></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  21. 21. ICC self-assessment <ul><li>Based on Byram’s (2000) work “Assesing Intercultural Competence in Language Teaching” students were asked to self-assess the following aspects. </li></ul><ul><li>My Experience of the Exchange </li></ul><ul><li>A. Feelings </li></ul><ul><li>B. Knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>C. Actions </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>A self-assessment of my Intercultural Experience </li></ul><ul><li>A. Interest in other people's way of life </li></ul><ul><li>B. Ability to change perspective </li></ul><ul><li>C. Ability to cope with communicating in a different language with a different culture </li></ul><ul><li>D. Knowledge about another country and culture </li></ul><ul><li>E. Knowledge about intercultural communication   </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  22. 22. ICC self-assessment: examples <ul><li>Awareness of C2: </li></ul><ul><li>I think we are all at the beginning of this very long process: to change perspectives by looking at other cultures or reconsider your own is not so simple. I do believe that both ideas and beliefs are deeply rooted into people’s minds, therefore it’s very hard to root out them or even just to change them. Anyway, just the fact of being aware that you’re not always right and that your point of view is not necessarily the only one, it’s a first significant change. </li></ul><ul><li>Awareness of C1: </li></ul><ul><li>It was really interesting to see what idea of Italy she had. I was pleasantly surprised as I noticed it was very positive... I can say that sometimes she freed me form the prejudices I had of my own culture... :-) </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  23. 23. questionnaires: cultural learning 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College <ul><li>Increased knowledge of C2 </li></ul><ul><li>Reflect on C1 </li></ul><ul><li>Increased intercultural awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Increased understanding of NNS </li></ul><ul><li>More tolerant towards the ‘other’ </li></ul><ul><li>Language learning through cultural learning </li></ul>
  24. 24. questionnaires: tools 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College “ The wiki and the forums were very useful for sharing ideas and doing research. Through them we could share information and opinions with all the participants in the exchange. Skype allowed us to have a more direct contact with our American peer. I think all these tools are somehow complementary, you cannot leave one of them out! ”
  25. 25. two projects compared 14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College Padova-Dickinson Tridem Comm. Bilingual, asynchronous, synchronous Monolingual, 3 cultures, asynchronous Who Language students Language students + non-language students Tools Public wiki, Skype SVSU LMS (forums, wiki, text chat) Tasks Skype conversations, collaborative development of wiki pages Collaborative development of an essay and a presentation Lessons learned <ul><li>Gradual progression of tasks following model </li></ul><ul><li>Weekly synchronous communication important for collaborative work </li></ul><ul><li>Space not organized well enough beforehand </li></ul><ul><li>Very little online socialization, jump right into product creation </li></ul><ul><li>Not enough synchronous communication </li></ul><ul><li>Not enough training in collaboration and using tools </li></ul><ul><li>Limited focus on cultural issues </li></ul>
  26. 26. conclusions <ul><li>If our goals, as stated in the initial quote, are </li></ul><ul><li>multicultural literacies </li></ul><ul><li>literacies in a multiplicity of media </li></ul><ul><li>and one of the ways we can help students acquire these literacies is through </li></ul><ul><li>international collaborative projects </li></ul><ul><li>then, in developing these projects educators must: </li></ul><ul><li>find right partner </li></ul><ul><li>establish common goals for the project including the development of intercultural communicative competence and collaboration skills </li></ul><ul><li>carefully select the right tools </li></ul><ul><li>carefuly design tasks based on established models </li></ul><ul><li>maintain constant communication with fellow educator </li></ul><ul><li>be critical of the project and improve it in an iterative process </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College
  27. 27. <ul><li>Thank you for your attention. </li></ul><ul><li>Grazie! Domande? </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>http://interculturewiki.pbwiki.com </li></ul>14 November 2008 COIL Conference, Purchase College

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