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LINGUIST List 23.1275

Tue Mar 13 2012

Confs: Applied Linguistics/UK

Editor for this issue: Amy Brunett <brunettlinguistlist.org>


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Date: 10-Mar-2012
From: Filippo Nereo <Filippo.Nereoheacademy.ac.uk>
Subject: Connecting at a Distance: Creating a Collaborative Language Learning Community
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Connecting at a Distance: Creating a Collaborative Language Learning Community

Date: 14-Mar-2012 - 14-Mar-2012
Location: University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Contact: Teresa MacKinnon
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2012/seminars/disciplines/DW128

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics

Meeting Description:

This seminar, funded by the UK Higher Education Academy as part of its workshop and seminar series, will combine insights from University of Warwick colleagues' experience and hands-on opportunities to evaluate technologies for connection and collaboration in an informal, international community. We will build and expand our own personal learning networks to help find support for the challenges faced in your individual contexts. Our aim will be to ensure that you gain practical, applicable insights that you can immediately use to make your work easier. Please bring your own preferred device to connect to our wifi, we will also have some devices available for you to try.

The Language Centre recently developed and implemented a virtual learning environment for students of languages, LanguagesWarwick: http://m2.warwicklanguage.org.uk/.
Using open source tools, Moodle and Mahara, integrating Blackboard Collaborate tools for voice, we have been able to extend opportunities for collaboration beyond the limits of our community, creating a French/English virtual exchange with students at Université Blaise Pascale in Clermont-Ferrand. Community creation, particularly in an online environment, can be very challenging but we believe that we have found ways to help establish effective links and enable students to experience vital intercultural and linguistic skills such as negotiation of meaning. The session leader has worked in this area with the support of the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Levels of student engagement in this project on both sides of the Channel have been very encouraging, students have shared discussions about the #occupy movement, human rights and employment opportunities, supporting each other with language use and information. Our instant messaging tool had over 100 downloads in the first week, connections founded in our virtual exchange course have then spread into wider use of online tools for social networking as the connections become deeper. The two groups of students (about 300 in total) have challenged each other in games such as Angry Birds, created shared Facebook and last.fm groups and are currently planning visits. The project is ongoing.

A recent institutional teaching and learning review commended this work, recommending that it be extended to other languages; we are already looking at this for Japanese, where connections exist but logistics of travel can be prohibitive. The process that these non-specialist language learners embark upon is particularly useful for honing employability and IT literacy skills. The provision of a reflective e-portfolio (Mahara) as a means of capturing experiences and facilitating dialogue has increased awareness of the value of language study in Higher Education. Although aimed at those delivering language, the principles can be applied to many other disciplines.

10.00 -
Welcome and Introductions

10.30 -
Overview and Virtual Exchange: the challenges; the tools; capturing and visualising the learning analysis.

11.15 -
Making virtual connections: hands-on session using wireless devices (chrome books and ipads) to connect with others, experiencing the tools and creating a collaborative, shared Google document to report.

(12 - 12.30 Lunch)
2.00 -
Group discussions: control; engagement; outcomes

3.00 -
Plenary: online communication for collaboration, what are the implications?

4.00 -
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