EUROCALL 2014

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Language Learning 2.0 - International Collaboration Made Easy

Telecollaboration and Online Intercultural Exchanges
Language Learning 2.0 - International Collaboration Made Easy
Tuula-Harriet Kotikoski (JAMK,Finland) & Natasha Doshi (VUAS, Austria)

Our poster session deals with three questions: How did we start our international collaboration? What did we want to achieve and how could our collaboration be further developed and improved?
The most important aspect when starting an online collaboration project with a partner university is to understand your partner. The authors visited each other’s universities on teacher exchanges on several occasions with Erasmus support – Natasha Doshi at JAMK University of Applied Sciences (JAMK), Tuula Kotikoski at Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences (VUAS), in addition to this, there were also student exchanges from both universities.
Some common ground was easily found: there were same degree programs with very similar contents offered on Bachelor level; however, VUAS offers more language studies than JAMK measured in ECTS and the contents of JAMK’s language studies overlapped only partly with the ones at VUAS. In addition, JAMK emphasizes Internationalization at Home, i.e.”international semesters” in all degree programs. The collaboration also based on this need to “internationalize” the Finnish students. VUAS, on the other hand, presents English as a compulsory study in all programs in all semesters as content-based courses.
After understanding each other’s ways of implementing the English courses, a closer look was given to the contents of the English courses. Both universities agreed that job application process and intercultural communication were good starting points for telecollaboration.
The aims of this experiment were to enhance and intensify international cooperation on different levels, learn from each other, offer students and lecturers international experience and new learning styles as well as to find out whether collaboration actually works, hence success in this might lead to bigger (funded) projects.
The first online-project in November 2012 involved Intercultural Communication students from VUAS and Engineering students from JAMK. The task for VUAS students was to reflect on communication styles and stereotypes by discussing these issues with Finnish counterparts.
VUAS students only completed a pre-course task in their three-day course on Intercultural Communication; yet, there were several positive comments. This task proved to be an ideal opening for their course. JAMK students’ attitude towards this experience was very positive and the group suggested another project in the following semester.
The current ongoing project is based on job application process and the documents needed when applying for a job in another country. The students were asked to send their CVs to Austria and Finland and after reading them, discuss them and thus get and give feedback. The comments at VUAS and JAMK were very encouraging and positive and the students had great interest in each other’s cultures.
How to proceed from here: should we discover more common areas of interest, create tasks and activities beneficial for both sides and get more people on board? How to utilize the tools provided by Google (Google +, Google docs), would a video conference be beneficial to get our students acquainted with technology and speakers?

Author(s):

Natasha Doshi    
Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences
Austria

Natasha Doshi is a Senior Lecturer at Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences in Dornbirn, Austria, teaching mostly content-based English courses to Media Design and Engineering students. Her research focus is on intercultural communication, intercultural learning, cross-cultural management and English as a Lingua Franca. She completed her M.A. in English and German Literature and Linguistics at the University of Innsbruck (Austria) as well as her post-graduate studies in Information and Communication Management in Kempten, Germany. She worked for more than five years in the field of marketing communication for international companies both in Austria and the United Kingdom. She has also been teaching as a guest lecturer at universities in Liechtenstein, Belgium, Finland, France, Poland, Portugal and the Netherlands and has been involved in various EU-funded projects.

Tuula-Harriet Kotikoski    
Language Centre
JAMK University of Applied Sciences
Finland

Tuula-Harriet Kotikoski is a Senior Lecturer of English and German at the Language Centre of JAMK University of Applied Sciences in Jyväskylä, Central Finland. She teaches content-based English courses to Media Engineering, Automation, Data Network Technology, Software Engineering and Civil Engineering students. Her research focus is on intercultural communication and the use of English in working life. She completed her M.A. in German, Russian and Linguistics at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland) as well as her post-graduate studies in the Faculty of German Language at the University of Jyväskylä with a Ph.L. She has also been teaching six times as a guest lecturer in Vorarlberg university of Applied Sciences and has been involved in various EU-funded projects focusing on online and further education as well as vocational education. Her teaching career spans 25 years and she also works with teacher trainees from the Teacher Training College of the University of Jyväskylä.

 

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