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Thursday, 19 January 2017

#BYOD4L: Thoughts on collaboration

Student created logo for the Clavier Project
As a language teacher, connecting internationally has always been at the heart of my work. My degree required a year in France (my second year was spent teaching English - mostly pop songs and popular culture) in Châteauroux, France in 1980. When I took up teaching I got involved in regular exchanges with our partner schools and accompanied the various associated trips such as the history department's visit to world war battlefields. 

In my teaching role in Higher Education I wanted to continue to give students opportunities to work on their language with real French speakers. Fortunately we have a very cosmopolitan campus and there were lots of opportunities thanks to a great student network. However, increasingly I was finding that the internet offered me lots of ways of keeping in touch with friends and trends in France and french speaking cultures. The skills I needed were relevant and I thought this provided a good way to cross formal and informal boundaries to support deeper language and intercultural understanding. I got involved in developing a virtual exchange in 2010 having met a colleague teaching in Clermond Ferrand by chance on a blog by Steve Wheeler. Explaining virtual exchange is not easy as many in HE are quite reluctant to take computer-mediated communication seriously. 

Over recent years, through my role as a learning technologist I have been able to bring my expertise in telecollaboration and computer-mediated communication to bear in a wide range of projects and collaborations. Most recently this has involved collaborating with colleague from the Open University to publish on the use of open badges in Online Intercultural Exchange (OIE) and working with colleagues from Australia (Monash) on papers to do with produsage and sustainability of teaching. I really enjoyed these collaborations, but collaborating can be very challenging. The language research community has been instrumental in producing research into the experiences of computer-mediated communication which provides great insights into success factors in this area. I am delighted that it has also now established a cross-disciplinary academic organisation to support all HE colleagues who wish to collaborate internationally called Unicollaboration. Please share the news with your telecollaborative colleagues as this will be a great way of sharing best practice and extending internationalisation in HE. 

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