Collin, Luiza (Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas), and Sarah Dietrich (Southeast Missouri State University)

Digital technologies allow teachers and learners to reach beyond the traditional classroom through interactions with others who are geographically distant. For students, participation in online exchanges has been linked to increased technological skills (Hempel & Stickler, 2005; Salmon, 2003), pragmatic competence in a second or foreign language (Belz & Kinginger, 2003), and intercultural competence (O’Dowd, 2003, 2006). For language teachers, O’Dowd (2013) argues, the ability to use technology to integrate collaborative tasks and project work into their classes has become essential.

This presentation explores the planning, implementation, and outcomes of an online collaboration between Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) students in the US and a class of undergraduates studying Applied Linguistics in Mexico. Over the course of a semester, participants planned, produced, and exchanged presentations, videos, and audio files on a variety of topics related to semantics and pragmatics including commonly held beliefs about their home countries and cultures. While the project was largely asynchronous, it culminated in a video conference which brought the groups together.

Informed by research on Project-based Learning (PBL) (Thomas, 2000), throughout this project, the presenters sought to create an environment in which the participants, from China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Ukraine and the US, could learn with, about, and from each other. It was the participants who determined the topics of and digital media for each of the “texts” they shared with their counterparts. For example, one group of women from Saudi Arabia, China, and the US wrote and filmed a video exploring stereotypes about Muslim women.

The presenters draw on their field notes, participant reflections, and digital artifacts produced as part of this project to share lessons learned. They offer a model for designing digital media projects in which future teachers and language students take authorship of both product and process. Finally, as friends who interact with each other in a combination of English, French and Spanish, they offer insights regarding how to encourage students to recognize their own diverse strengths and see language as means of learning about themselves and about the world.


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