Telecollaboration in multimodal environments: the impact on task design and learner interaction

Hauck, Mirjam and Youngs, Bonnie L. (2008). Telecollaboration in multimodal environments: the impact on task design and learner interaction. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 21(2) pp. 87–124.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09588220801943510

Abstract

With the development of new digital technologies and their gradual introduction into the language classroom, the Internet enables students to reach out beyond the confines of traditional teaching and learning settings, allowing previously non-existent access to foreign languages and cultures. On the one hand, the web allows learners to find authentic information and expand their knowledge; on the other, computer-mediated communication tools enable students to establish contact with target language learners and native speakers by engaging in telecollaborative exchanges. The tools at students' disposal are becoming increasingly more powerful, often combining different modes of communication in one single environment.

In 2005, students of French at Carnegie Mellon University, US and French learners at the Open University, UK worked synchronously and asynchronously in online environments with native francophone students enrolled on a masters' programme in distance education at the Universit de Franche Comt, France. Completing a set of three collaborative tasks, synchronous meetings took place over 10 weeks in the Open University's online audio-graphic tuition environment Lyceum, which provides multiple synchronous audio channels as well as synchronous text chat and several shared graphical interfaces. In addition to the output produced in this medium (oral, written and graphic) in the target languages (French and English), the project output, a shared reflection on cultural similarities and differences, took the form of several collaborative, asynchronous blogs.

This contribution draws on data from pre- and post- treatment questionnaires, recordings of the online interactions, work published by the students in the blogs and discussions among learner and tutor participants exploring aspects of online partnership learning such as learning environment-specific affordances and their impact on task design as well as student and tutor perceptions of connectivity and interactivity.

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