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2ndschool: a Virtual Learning Platform For The Promotion Of Intercultural Communication


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Presented at 61st Annual Kentucky Foreign Language Conference – Language Technology

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2ndschool: a Virtual Learning Platform For The Promotion Of Intercultural Communication

  1. 1. 2ndschool: a virtual learning platform for the promotion of intercultural communication<br />Mário Cruz<br />Helena Araújo e Sá<br />António Moreira<br />
  2. 2. 1. EU policies: training integration, open learning environments and active citizenship<br />language learning policies have been a priority in the agendas of diverse summits or congresses;<br />the Lisbon meeting in March 2000, in which clear objectives were presented:<br />increasing the quality and effectiveness of education in the EU; <br />facilitating the access of all to education; <br />opening up education to the wider world<br />
  3. 3. There are plenty of reasons which contributed to this, namely:<br />the nature of work, which requires updated skills every day, is constantly changing;<br />the number of older people has never been greater but at the same time European citizens are living more actively than ever before;<br />access to updating skills throughout citizens’ lives is a key element for the establishment of an inclusive society.<br />
  4. 4. ‘The world is characterised by rapid change, increasing globalisation and growing complexity in terms of economic and socio-cultural relations. The speed of these changes is reflected in the context within which any reflection on the future objectives of the education and training systems must be placed. New economic structures and societies are increasingly driven by information and knowledge. In particular, computers are becoming more widely available at work and at home, and this relative familiarity with information and communication technology (ICT) forms a backdrop against which the future of education and training must be planned. (…) Europe should plan ahead to remain competitive on a global scale, including the use of the new ICTs.’ <br />European Education Council (2001) <br />
  5. 5. Needs:<br />The development use of ICT is important to ensure a change in the way schools and other learning centres work;<br />Equipping schools and training centres with multimedia resources and high quality educational software and high speed connections offering interactive possibilities on Internet become a priority;<br />Teachers have to be trained in the use of Internet and its multimedia resources, equipping their learners with the competences to adequately select relevant information, analyse it and transform it into knowledge and, subsequently, skills.<br />
  6. 6. These skills can be fostered in the establishment of interdisciplinary projects within their own school or even EU school partnerships and projects, such as eTwinning or Comenius projects.<br />
  7. 7. online mobility, i. e., ‘learners are capable of traveling within a virtual world by technological means, getting through the possible barriers imposed by the absence of knowledge related to the use of codes and languages’ (Cruz, 2005);<br />These virtual learners must be electronic multi-literate (cf. Warschauer, 1999; The New London Group, 2000).<br />
  8. 8. learners build a true virtual learning community which according to Hagel & Armstrong needs 4 elements to survive: <br />interest (interests and common knowledge), <br />relation (shared life events); <br />fantasy/ imagination (use of MUDs or MOOs to highlight aspects related to the personality and talents of the pupils) <br />and transactions (changes of any type of information, cultural images, languages, etc.).<br />
  9. 9. pronetaires, i.e., the ones who are ‘capables de produire, diffuser, vendre des contenusnumériques non propriétaires’ (Rosnay, 2006:12), using ‘blogs, sites Web interactifs, sortes de journauxpersonnels en P2P (...)’, which contribute to the re-reading and re-creation of national and international news (Rosnay, 2006:25)<br />
  10. 10. In this way, learners become active citizens capable of participating in all spheres of social and economic life!<br />
  11. 11. 2. Interdisciplinary approaches based on critical, responsible and transformational pedagogy<br />Schools need an emancipation and critical pedagogy which implies that the teacher trains learners to critically analyse what surrounds him/ her, using languages and the intercultural interaction principles (cf. Freire, 1998).<br />This is implies many other concepts:<br />reflection, <br />difference, <br />conflict, <br />dialogue, <br />empowerment, <br />action <br />and hope<br />
  12. 12. Phipps & Guilherme (2004): a critical pedagogy means ‘addressing radical concerns, the abuses of power in intercultural contexts, in the acquisition of languages and in their circulation. And this work is never just neutral’;<br />It establishes a clear connection between intercultural communication itself and the education for citizenship, which can be achieved through interdisciplinary approaches inside schools and between European schools.<br />
  13. 13. 3. Web 2.0 and the promotion of Intercultural Communicative Competence: platform as a learning environment<br />Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC) it centres upon the intercultural nature of the communicative situation, allowing to equate language learning as a commitment towards citizenship, engaging the development of a set of competences which allow the individual to:<br /> not only situate him/herself in his/ her cultural identity, including his/ her own linguistic-communicative repertoire, <br />and create spaces of communication with the Other. <br />
  14. 14. It allows the individual to ‘negotiate a mode of communication and interaction which is satisfactory to themselves and to others and they are able to act as mediators between people of different cultural origins’ (Byram, 1997:11), creating ‘a third culture in its own right’ (Kramsch, 1993:9). <br />
  15. 15. Plurilingual Competence (PC): the intersection of the speech contexts of L1 and L2, being also that one where the relation between the different linguistic-cultural knowledges is systematically and continuously re-equationed (Andrade & Araújo e Sá et al, 2003:493). <br />
  16. 16. Internet and its web 2.0 tools offer the chance of building a teaching/ learning environment opened to the world and consequently more creative, attractive and based on the pupils’ needs, interests and own living projects<br />
  17. 17. Web 2.0<br />an Internet of a newgenerationofweb-basedcommunitiesandhostedservicessuch as:<br />social networking sites, <br />wiki,<br />communicationtools<br />andfolksonomies;<br />Itgiveswebusersanextensivespace to revealthemselvesand share theirexperiences, views, opinionsandinterests (cf. O’Reilly, 2005).<br />
  18. 18.
  19. 19. Ourprojectincludes a virtual learningplatformwhichentails some Web 2.0 tools, such as:<br />forums, <br />chatrooms, <br />social software (Youtube, Hi5), <br />tagclouds, <br />RSS, <br />amongothers.<br />
  20. 20. 3.1. Project Stages<br />1stly: we intended to identify and analyse some studies which approach the cooperative negotiation in virtual teaching/learning environments, taking into account: <br />theoretical panels, <br />aims, <br />methodologies <br />and achieved results.<br />
  21. 21. 2ndly: we established contacts with different schools from other European countries in order to form partnerships for the project;<br />3rdly: we discussed the layout of the virtual learning platform and the different participating schools had the opportunity to observe its structure and functioning;<br />
  22. 22. 4thly: we built the virtual learning platform using the MySQL and PHP5 languages and taking similar TANDEM projects into account, namely: <br />a study about image negotiation in plurilingual chats, established between Portuguese and American pupils, within a Masters project; <br />a Socrates/ Lingua Galanetproject, which led to the construction of a platform towards the development of intercomprehension in Roman Languages.<br />
  23. 23. This platform includes 5 learning stages:<br />‘Welcome’, a phase in which learners present themselves and contact with the different users;<br />‘TopicZ’, in which the different teams propose discussion topics which they are interested in;<br />‘Issues’ is the phase where each team comments some topics and subtopic related to the chosen main theme, based in personal experiences and reports, articles of opinion and photos/ videos from both national or international news;<br />‘Public Overview’, where the different teams reveal what they knew about the topic they had chosen and what they have co-constructed with the Other;<br />‘Project Work’, which is a ‘visible’ result of the commitment at the intercomprehension level, and consists in the presentation of the products (a Blog, a Wiki, an Essay, a PowerPoint Presentation, a Video) by the different teams. <br />
  24. 24. 3.2. Structure of the virtual platform and its Web 2.0 tools<br />‘The sharing of the computer communication tools, such as electronic mail, audio and video conference, discussion groups and forums (…), allow the involvement of community members in the negotiation process of: representations, in the continuous resetting of mental models; comprehension; complexity of knowledge; the development of a critical thinking through a shared experience. These tools are online communication means which embody and are used as a continuum of the learners’ cognitive skills’ <br />Dias (2000:161-162)<br />
  25. 25. Platformenvironment<br />
  26. 26. Profiles<br />
  27. 27. Toolsinmeeting hall andteamroom<br />discussion forums<br />They can be defined as a sort of conversational means which does not depend on the simultaneous presence of users. They are used to discuss topics and to make certain types of contents available, namely: text, image and video (cf. Mangenot, 2005).<br />an open chatroom<br />continuous discussions on a particular topic, organized in ‘rooms’ at particular Internet sites, in which computer users interested in the topic can participate’, following a netiquette and using emoticons and other keyboard expressive resources (cf. Cruz, 2005).<br />
  28. 28. Videoconferencingsolution/ Flashmeeting<br />
  29. 29. this tool includes features which support learning, such as: <br />an easy to use broadcast button to start and stop recordings; <br />a simple queuing system to indicate when it is the turn of someone to speak; <br />an easy to use text chat facility to talk to others while watching a broadcast; <br />a simple share an Internet address option to enable all users to view a webpage at the same time; <br />a vote and ‘emoticon’ options to enable users to share their opinions or feelings; <br />and, finally, a countdown timer to show the time remaining in the broadcast.<br />
  30. 30. GoogleDocs<br />It allows them the collaborative writing of either an essay or a presentation, by using an application which resembles Microsoft Word or Microsoft Powerpoint, but which allows the documents to be synchronously edited and updated by the international team members;<br />
  31. 31. Blogger<br />It allows users to build their own blog;<br />a blog is a ‘hybrid genre that draws from multiple sources, including other Internet communication genres’ being characterised as a space in which: <br />there is a great potential for the growing of a community that builds upon a specific topic; <br />other discursive genres mingle, namely e-mail, chat, discussion forums; there is a certain dynamics in the co-building of knowledge (Herring, Scheidt & et al, 2005:145).<br />
  32. 32. PbWiki<br />a wiki means“quick” in Hawaiian;<br />It allows the public edition of documents, using a rapid publishing system which does not demand the content revision;<br /> users are able to correct mistakes, complete ideas and insert new information in a wiki hyperlinked webpage, updating its content whenever it is necessary and thanks to the community which is formed around it.<br />
  33. 33. Virtual library<br />users can post and look up articles, pictures, audio documents, videos, etc;<br />It allows the insertion of embedded videos which can be easily found or uploaded in Youtube.<br />
  34. 34. 4. Pronetaires at platform: the rising of a virtual learning community<br />Cornell & Martin (1997) state that the building of a virtual learning community demands that teachers:<br />get to know the students;<br />ask for photographs, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses;<br />communicate with students early and regularly;<br />avoid confrontation, sarcasm, or putdowns;<br />provide early and continuous feedback of students’ academic standing and offer suggestions for improvement.<br />
  35. 35. During the first stage, ‘Welcome’, learners were able to get to know each other through chat sessions<br />exchanging information about personal data ‘(Cuba_Libro)Loli look very Ugly today It&apos;s because of the weather <br /> (Cuba_Libro)Lua you have a Picture of me’<br />
  36. 36. asking and referring to their hobbies, such as in the following examples:<br /> ‘(Ingo) I do Street/Break dance (…)(Cuba_Libro) Does someone here likes Volleybal (…)(Ingo) Talk ppl talk xD(Xx_karol_xX)CUba_Libro do you like god of war ?*.*(Joeri) he does(Ingo) yes he does(Cuba_Libro)lol(Cuba_Libro) It&apos;s a cool game lol’<br />
  37. 37. representations of languages and their features<br /> ‘(mariocruz) u mentioned that English is tooooooooeaaaaaassyyy (…)(Cuba_Libro)Lollollollollol(Joeri) no(Ingo) if u really like a language you&apos;ll learn it easier, mario (…)(ict4u01) I need to learn some Portugese(annemarie) They are good at it because they have a good teacher (mariocruz) so I suppose that u like English (…)(mariocruz) which languages do u like and which u don&apos;t like?(Ingo) yes xD I do!(mariocruz) good reason annemarie(Cuba_Libro) (Lua)i like english , i hate french(mariocruz) hate is too strong... don&apos;t you want to live in Paris one day, Lua?(Cuba_Libro) English Is a nice Language ’<br />
  38. 38. their future projects<br /> ‘(Cuba_Libro) I would like to Live iHawaï and America(Ingo) Well, I&apos;ll see xD (…)<br /> (Cuba_Libro) Maybe later i&apos;ll go to America(mariocruz) Hawaii is great (…)(Joeri) wow (…)annemarie) lucky you (…)(Cuba_Libro) A Friend of my Brother lives in Dallas(Lua) is there a chance of exchange ? (mariocruz) nice place to live’<br />
  39. 39. the future formation of teams<br /> ‘(Xx_karol_xX)Hiingo =) (…)(Lua) we want to invite you to be part of our team(Lua) we want to invite you to be part of our team(Ingo) hi karol ^^(ines) (…)(mariocruz) yes, good idea... try to think about the people who are going to be part of your team’<br />
  40. 40. social network software<br />‘(ines)ingo, you have hi5? (…)<br />(Xx_karol_xX) Ingo do you have hi5? =) (…)<br />(Ingo) I don&apos;t have Hi5 , but I&apos;ve got netlog... (…)<br />(Xx_karol_xX) can you send me your netlog? =) (…)<br />(mariocruz) what is a netlog? (…)<br />(Lua) its a kind of fotolog (…)<br />(Cuba_Libro) It&apos;s a site that you have your own pofile page<br />(Ingo) wait I&apos;ll send u my netlog acc, don&apos;t have a pic there yet’<br />
  41. 41.
  42. 42. This forum was launched by one of the project teachers and is related to the following topic ‘The 5 things that make you happy’;<br />29 posts and 38 replies were the result;<br /> Learners really participated in a very active way in this discussion forum because they were really eager to get to know their mates;<br />Repman & Logan (1996:37): ‘students interacting with other students increase their participation and enhance their motivation and learning’. <br />
  43. 43.
  44. 44. In this team, dream_team, dimitra, who is a Greek student, is the leader of the team;<br />She has invited all her other mates, including the teacher: Annemarie, who is a Belgian English teacher.<br />
  45. 45.
  46. 46. At the present moment, each team as an assigned topic and all of them are scheduling reunions to discuss the topic and make their project work, which can be a<br />a Blog, <br />a Wiki, <br />a Webpage, <br />an essay, <br />a PowerPoint presentation <br />or even a video.<br />
  47. 47.
  48. 48. Conclusions<br />ICT offers the chance to revolutionise the way school works within its own organisation or even with other schools in European educational space, giving their pupils and teachers the opportunity to learn and work with others in open learning environments;<br />A virtual learning platform which is aimed at the development of the critical cultural conscience of European secondary school pupils, which is the basis of an active European citizenship.<br />
  49. 49. Holmes et al (2001:4): in a sort of learning process like this, ‘students will not simply pass through a course like water through a pipe but instead, river-like, leave their own imprint in the development of the course, their school or university, and ideally the discipline’<br />
  50. 50. Indeed, some of our students are already pronetaires, able to work with multimedia resources in the negotiation of knowledge with the Other, so why should we not use their potential in the school environment?<br />
  51. 51. 2ndschool: a virtual learning platform for the promotion of intercultural communication<br />Mário Cruz<br /><br />