#CWIL conference: Telecollaboration in language learning

Last week I went to a conference about telecollaboration in language learning. The full title was “Developing digital literacies and intercultural communicative competence for the “global graduate” – Computer Mediated Communication for Interaction in Language Learning”

Telecollaboration involves initiatives that facilitate international and intercultural language learning using online tools, such as asynchronous tools like forums, wikis and blogs, and synchronous tools like videoconferencing and online chats.

Day 1, held at Coventry University

1st session: Telecollaboration, past, present and future – presented by Robert O’Dowd, University of Leon

  • Asked about challenges for Foreign Language educators in the UK – audience discussion
  • International student mobility
  • Internationalisation
  • Workplace and transferable skills: “employability competencies”
  • Web 2.0/MOOCs
  • Leuven 20/2020: the EU has set a target for 20% of graduates to have had a period of study or training abroad
  • what students learn: communication, foreign language skills, online communication skills, team work, awareness of cultural stereotypes
  • learner autonomy/reciprocity
  • transferable skills
  • Tandem Model: teacher’s role is limited: learner diary or portfolio
  • Blended Intercultural Telecollaboration: example: Cultura (MIT)
  • main link to take away from this session: UNI-Collaboration website: Online intercultural exchange (INTENT project)
  • other initiatives: eTwinning and ePals
  • tips to create discussion: word association, written forums for intercultural communication
  • contact doesn’t equal learning! -> teacher needs to help
  • other examples of telecollaboration 2.0 (informal learning): online fan communities, online public discussion forums, blogs, emails, chats, gaming -> “intercultural learning in the wild” -> less controllable/authentic -> how could these activities be credited?
  • can telecollaboration work for other disciplines?
  • raising awareness -> danger of stereotyping

2nd session: Intercultural awareness raising through CMC: the MexCo project – presented by Marina Orsini-Jones, Elwyn Lloyd, Zoe Gazeley, Gwenola Bescond, Coventry University

  • intercultural knowledge transfer exchange
  • The “global graduate” Mission Statement: dynamic, global, enterprising
  • MexCo Language Exchange/Intercultural Exchange: English, Spanish, French – Moodle-based, using Byram’s model
  • local context and reality important for materials design
  • group work might be more beneficial than one-to-one tandem learning
  • examples use tools that students use anyway
  • emails were used when students wanted privacy for their exchanges
  • instructions for tasks important for success

3rd session: Affordances of CMC e-tools: e-tools for effective international CMC – presented by Teresa McKinnon, University of Warwick

  • e-tools need to enthuse
  • “make experience more real”
  • effective communicator: motivation, audience, tone of delivery/voice, listening, “engage the listener”, eye contact, body language
  • communication devices
  • sender-receiver model -> meaning!
  • “Media switching may be most appropriate.” (A. Denis and J. Valacich)
  • immediacy of context
  • virtual exchange
  • formal/informal learning to happen in official forums
  • http://www.alt.ac.uk/
  • Exchange Warwick – Clermont

4th session: Augmented Reality: Building an app for Italian learners – presented by Billy Brick and Tiziana Cervi-Wilson, Coventry University

Day 2, online via Blackboard Collaborate
I travelled to Warwick University for the online portion of the conference, where I also visited the Language Centre. Some of the participants and presenters were also there, so I got a bit of live interaction as well as the online interaction.

1st session: The competences of the telecollaborative teacher – presented by Robert O’Dowd, University of Leon

  • authentic materials
  • students produce more/work harder when sharing results with others
  • example used Blogger for tasks and Moodle for feedback
  • Skills needed: creativity, flexibility, trust, need help from others/be able to work with others, diplomacy, negotiating skills, “cyberpragmatically competent”
  • importance of context and students presenting themselves to others (intercultural competence)
  • challenges: awareness, lack of student participation
  • “telecollaboration is inherently intercultural”
  • students generally don’t need training on online tools -> this cannot be presumed though
  • multitasking essential, especially when exchange is synchronous
  • how to choose partners: use UNI-Collaboration website or mailing lists such as EURO-CALL

2nd session: Connecting language learners, presented by Teresa McKinnon (University of Warwick) and Simon Ensor (Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont Ferrand)

  • using tools recommended by teachers and also those favoured by learners (what they use already anyway)
  • using hashtags, e.g. #warcler
  • a lot of interaction is asynchronous, increase synchronous interaction soon
  • virtual mobility and physical mobility goes hand in hand -> can result in funding
  • new learning spaces: public and private -> library?
  • students who are quiet in classroom often embrace telecollaboration
  • rhizomatic learning: personal learning networks, based in different places

3rd session: Connecting language educators

4th session: sharing stuff

  • use you personal networks for learning, e.g. Twitter, blogs -> “the connected educator” -> think about what you will share and why; be authentic
  • language exchanges convey a knowledge of the world (culture), not just languages learning
  • http://theglobalclassroomproject.wordpress.com/
  • don’t feel overwhelmed by social media, give it a chance
  • ethics need to be discussed when getting involved in telecollaboration, e.g. how to post in discussions
  • Generation C: not age-based -> the connected generation -> creates questions about classroom behaviour, e.g. allow mobile phones or not
  • Changing the Learning Landscape
  • COIL = collaborative online international learning
  • learn from each other
  • students are adults, so treat them as adults

You can see further notes via the hashtag #CWIL on twitter and other social networks, and more of my own notes on Storify (these are not necessarily repeated here).

Other links to explore:

Film in Language Teaching Association

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