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The Education Forum

Workshop on Telecollaboration

Graham Davies

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The Department of Modern Philology at the University of León, in association with EUROCALL, wishes to announce the following workshop for foreign language educators:

“Telecollaboration: Integrating On-line Intercultural Exchanges

into the Foreign Language Classroom”

The workshop will take place between the 19th and 21st of May, 2006 at the University of León, Spain.

Due to the international nature of the event, the working language of the workshop will be English. However, educators working with other foreign languages (e.g. French, German, Spanish as a Foreign Language) are welcome to attend and participate.

Theme of the Workshop

In our ‘networked society’ foreign languages educators are often expected by both their institutions and their students to find ways of effectively integrating on-line technologies into their classes. However, while the internet may offer an apparent endless array of possibilities for engaging students with the target language and culture, many teachers often feel unsure about how to use the internet and on-line communication tools in effective ways which are pedagogically relevant and, at the same time, motivating and interesting for their students. This workshop will look at one common on-line activity in foreign language education, on-line intercultural exchanges (commonly referred to today as telecollaboration), and will explore various aspects of this fascinating learning activity.

Telecollaboration refers to the activity of engaging language learners in intercultural exchange with students from other cultures through the use of on-line communication tools such as e-mail and message boards in order to improve their communicative and cultural skills in the foreign language. The learning outcomes of these exchanges can be both powerful and enlightening with an amazing potential for both language and culture learning. However, for every example of success which is reported in journals and teacher magazines, teachers have usually heard about ‘failed exchanges’ from disenchanted colleagues. Organisational difficulties, misunderstandings and the reinforcement of stereotypes are often the order of the day.

This workshop sets out from the premise that organising exchanges which produce positive language learning outcomes should not merely depend on luck. The participating researchers and educators will aim to introduce the skills and knowledge which teachers and students will need in order to ensure that their telecollaborative projects are rich learning experiences which provide ample opportunities for both language practice and intercultural learning.

As the workshop will be dealing principally with how on-line exchanges can be effectively integrated into the foreign language classroom at both secondary- and university-level institutions, we believe that, apart from making a valid contribution in its own right, this event will provide a useful lead-up to the Eurocall 2006 conference which will take place in September 2006 in Granada Spain with its stated focus on the integration of CALL into study programmes.

Location: University of León: Departamento de Filología Moderna


Participants should ideally be involved in foreign language education at secondary or university level. No previous experience of using on-line technologies in education is necessary although a basic level of electronic literacy (i.e. knowledge of how to send e-mails and how to use a web browser etc.) is recommended.

As the presentations and discussions will be in English, a good communicative level in this language is also advisable.


Friday (19 May): Morning: Registration and Welcome Address

Friday (19 May): Afternoon: First two sessions

Saturday (20 May): Four sessions and first roundtable event

Sunday (21 May): Two sessions and second round table event


The speakers are all foreign language educators and are also experienced practitioners of telecollaboration. They are:

 Jim Crapotta (Barnard College, New York, USA)

 Paige Ware (Southern Methodist University, USA)

 Andreas Mueller-Hartmann (Paedagogische Hochschule, Heidelberg, Germany)

 Breffni O'Rourke (Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland)

 Markus Ritter (University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)

 Jesús Suarez (Barnard College, New York, USA)

 Robert O’Dowd (University of León, Spain)

The sessions will aim to have a balance between understanding research and developing good classroom practice. Participants will be encouraged to take part in discussions based on authentic extracts of on-line student interaction and examples of classroom practice. The themes and issues which the speakers will be covering will include the following:

Different Models of On-line Exchange:

Breffney O'Rourke: An introduction to the Tandem model of on-line exchange

Jesús Suarez and Jim Crapotta: An introduction to the Cultura model of on-line exchange

Dealing with the Problems and Challenges of On-line Exchange:

Andreas Mueller-Hartmann: The roles of the teacher in telecollaboration: Setting up and managing exchanges

Markus Ritter: Challenges in Telecollaboration: Problems of task design and 'failed

communication' in online exchanges

Understanding The Spanish Context:

Paige Ware: Language Learning and Telecollaboration: Using on-line exchanges for linguistic development with learners from Spain

Robert O’Dowd: Spanish ‘Cultures of Use’: How the socio-cultural context in Spain influences students and teachers on-line interaction.

Voices from the classroom:

Participants will have an opportunity on the final day of the workshop to present and discuss their own experiences with on-line exchanges and on-line learning in general. (Please inform the organisers well in advance if you would like to speak during this session!)

Round table Events:

There will be two ‘round table events’ on the second and final days of the workshop during which all speakers and participants will come together and discuss the questions and issues which have emerged during the individual sessions.

Contact details: To find out more information about the workshop and to receive a registration form, please contact Robert O’Dowd at the University of León:

By e-mail: robert.odowd@unileon.es

By phone: (+34) 987 290184

By post:

Robert O'Dowd

Universidad de León

Facultad de Filosofía y Letras

Departamento de Filología Moderna

24071 León



The registration fee for participants is 30€. As places are limited, it is necessary to book and pay in advance.

This event has been organised in collaboration with EUROCALL, the European Association for Computer-Assisted Language Learning: http://www.eurocall-languages.org

The event has been financed in part by the Junta de Castilla León Project: Telecollaboración en la enseñanza de lenguas extranjeras.

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