Today’s tweet by @UNICollaboration:
here’s a #virtualexchange gift for teachers and those involved in teacher training #teachingHE #impact #skills
Great to have the Evaluate report, the largest study of class-to-class virtual exchange to date which involved 25 virtual exchange field trials bringing together institutions of initial teacher education in 16 countries.
One of the statements in the conclusing comments (Section 8) is […] Many of the participants in the study reported coming from quite homogeneous societies and virtual exchange offered them their first experience of working in an international team. Participants reported building confidence and losing personal fears through the exchange, learning to negotiate with peers who have different opinions or ways of thinking, managing to see issues from different perspectives, and solving problems.
The teacher trainers also confirmed to us that participating in a virtual exchange provided their students with invaluable intercultural learning experiences as well as the opportunity for authentic use of their foreign languages. The teachers reported that the virtual exchange had impacted on their own professional practices by providing them with opportunities to collaborate with colleagues internationally, to innovate their classes and to improve their own teaching methods.However, the study and its accompanying case studies also clearly show that virtual exchange is not easy to implement and that it requires teachers to be aware of the principles of good practice which have been outlined in the pages of this report. These include, for example, ensuring the integration and academic recognition of virtual exchange in their study programmes and overcoming the barriers which distance and technology can put up in relationship building through the use of videoconferencing
This triggered a trip down memory lane as this also echoed some of the reflections on our experiences (Koenraad & Parnell, 2005) in the EU project ‘Professionally Networking Education and Teacher Training’ (PRONETT) aiming to develop a regional and cross national learning community of pre- and in-service teachers and teacher educators supported by webbased resources and tools to collaborate and to construct shared understandings of teaching and learning in a networked classroom. This project took place some 15 years ago when concepts and products like CMS and LMS/VLE were still under development and we ventured to have a customised Plone-based environment developed from scratch.
Among retrospectively established pre-conditions and challenges for telecollaborative initiatives such as ICT tool user training and professional development including practice in procedures for collaboration and vital e-moderating functions and knowledge sharing options was also one on policy […] Another challenge will be to grow from being an unrecognized activity (invisible to the organization and sometimes even to members themselves) to institutionalized (= fully implemented, i.e. given and official status and function in (the partnership of) organization(s) (Wenger et al. 2002, p. 28).
Koenraad, A.L.M. & Parnell, J.D. (2005). ‘Pronett. Networking Education and Teacher Training’. In Mohamed Chaib & Ann-Katrin Svensson (Eds), ‘ICT in Teacher Education. Challenging Prospects. Jönköping University Press, Jönköping
And so I was left to ponder on how time flies but innovation in education apparently still has its own (good old?) rhythm 🙂