Review of Telecollaboration 2.0
|EDITORS: Guth, Sarah; Helm, Francesca
TITLE: Telecollaboration 2.0
SUBTITLE: Language, Literacies and Intercultural Learning in the 21st Century
SERIES TITLE: Telecollaboration in Education
PUBLISHER: Peter Lang
Judith Bündgens-Kosten, University of Duisburg-Essen
Sarah Guth's and Francesca Helm's book collects papers on telecollaboration for
the development of foreign language skills, intercultural learning, and digital
literacies. A large number of countries/regions and languages are discussed,
with most papers focusing on university students, but some taking school
students and adult learners into consideration as well. A wide range of tools is
discussed, including tools for text, audio and video chat such as MSN, Adobe
Connect and Skype, but also learning management systems such as Moodle and
multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs), such as Second Life, in addition to
forums, wikis and blogs, e-mail, as well as a number of bespoken systems.
The book contains 20 chapters in three sections. After a general introduction,
the first section entitled ''New trends and environments in telecollaboration''
takes up important theoretical and practical questions in the light of current
technological trends in its five chapters: ''Telecollaboration with web 2.0
tools'' (Sarah Guth & Michael Thomas), ''The multifarious goals of
telecollaboration 2.0: Theoretical and practical implications'' (Francesca Helm &
Sarah Guth), ''Telecollaboration and learning 2.0'' (Marie-Noëlle Lamy & Robin
Goodfellow), ''The 'intercultural turn' and language learning in the crucible of
new media'' (Steven L. Thorne), ''Virtual worlds for language learning and
intercultural exchange: Is it for real?'' (Luisa Panichi, Mats Deutschmann &
The second section, ''Language learner 2.0: new skills and competences'' focuses
on the participants of telecollaboration (three chapters), with contributions by
Elizabeth M.C. Guerin, Maria Elisabetta Cigognini and Maria Chiara Pettenati
(''Learners 2.0''), by Mirjam Hauck (''Telecollaboration: At the interface between
multimodal and intercultural communicative competence''), and Jane Hughes (''The
It is followed by a section with a focus on the teachers/facilitators in such
projects, ''Language educator 2.0: New skills and competences'', with chapters on
''Teacher 2.0'' (Melinda Dooly), ''Integrating telecollaboration into the language
classroom: some insights'' (Gilberte Furstenberg & Sabine Levet), and ''Issues in
the assessment of online interaction and exchange'' (Robert O'Dowd).
The last section collects seven case studies, ''Virtual Harlem: Building a
community'' (Bryan Carter), ''The Italia-Australia Intercultural Project'' (Suzanne
Cloke), ''The Intercultural Project'' (Invana Fratter & Francesca Helm), ''The
Soliya Connect Program at ENSIMAG, France'' (Ray Genet), ''Close encounters of a
new kind: The use of Skype and wiki in telecollaboration'' (Sarah Guth &
Nicoletta Marini-Maio), ''An intercontinental video-web communication project
between Chile and the Netherlands'' (Kristi Jauregi & Emerita Bañados), ''The
CrossCall Project: Cross-sector computer-assisted language learning'' (Terry
King), ''Finding language partners in unexpected places: Skype and social
networking for USA-Japan telecollaborations'' (Akiko Meguro & Todd Bryant), plus
a general introduction to the case studies by Sarah Guth and Francesca Helm.
Hu and Byram (2009) suggest that there are two competing philosophies in the
domain of intercultural learning: those with a hermeneutic/cultural sciences
background on the one hand, and those with a strong focus on intercultural
competence on the other. Most contributions to this volume fall into the second
Information about theoretical backgrounds is, of course, provided throughout the
book, but practical questions are emphasized. Other works, including those on
intercultural learning more generally, such as the edited volume bz Hu & Byram
(2009) -- which does not have an emphasis on telecollaboration, but the notions
can be easily transferred -- might provide a useful theoretical background.
The case studies discussed here are a useful addition to other practice-focused
books on telecollaboration and language learning on the market, such as the
volumes edited by Melinda Dooly (2008) or Robert O'Dowd (2007). In the field of
telecollaboration, technological change begets pedagogic experimentation. And
even if the ''digital gap'' has not been closed, falling prices for hardware and
improving infrastructure make telecollaboration possible with partners that
might have been excluded for purely technical/infrastructural reasons only a few
years ago. While underlying pedagogic principles change more slowly, improved
technological opportunitites effect many aspects of telecollaboration projects.
The current volume reflects the ongoing change of technological possibilities by
including new approaches such as the use of Second Life as a context of
telecollaboration, and by taking up the effect of web 2.0 culture on
Generally, the focus lies on describing how specific technologies have been used
with different populations, especially what kind of tasks were used, and how
this can be embedded into larger structures such as courses, exchange programs,
or degrees. Practitioners will profit from the discussion of potential problems
and the different ways other practitioners have reacted to them. The case
studies demonstrate how telecollaboration can creatively be integrated into
different subjects, e.g. the virtual Harlem project (literature, cf. chapter by
Bryan Carter), the Soliya Connect Program (media studies, international
relations, and conflict resolution, cf. chapter by Ray Genet), or by bringing
together native speaker teacher training students and non-native speaker
language students (cf. chapter by Kristi Jauregi, Emerita Bañado). Setting up
language exchanges often involves tremendous amounts of work on the side of the
organizing teachers. Studies that attempted a more scalable design are therefore
especially interesting, e.g. Meguro & Bryant's chapter on social networking
tools to find potential telecollaboration partners and to organize meetings, or
the Soliya project, which is organized by a non-profit organization instead of a
This way, the book provides a glimpse into the state of art of telecollaboration
for language, literacies and intercultural learning today. It is primarily
interesting for e-learning practitioners who either work with a language
learning/intercultural learning focus or who would like to better understand the
work done in this context.
Hu, Adelheid & Byram, Michael (2009a) Introduction. In Hu, Adelheid & Byram,
Michael, (2009), vii-xxv.
Hu, Adelheid & Byram, Michael, eds. (2009b) Interkulturelle Kompetenz und
fremdsprachliches Lernen: Modelle, Empirie, Evaluation / Intercultural
competence and foreign language learning: Models, empiricism, assessment.
Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
Melinda Dooly, ed. (2008) Telecollaborative language learning: A guidebook to
moderating intercultural collaboration online. Bern: Peter Lang.
Robert O'Dowd, ed. (2007) Online intercultural exchange: An introduction for
foreign language teachers. Clevedon: Multilingual matters.
| ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Judith Bündgens-Kosten received her doctorate degree from RWTH Aachen
University in 2009. Her thesis discusses teachers' attitudes toward AAVE.
She currently works at the University of Duisburg-Essen, focusing on
computer-mediated communication (especially blogging), and its role in