One of the environments the NIFLAR project is experimenting with is the video-web communication tool. For the project we have opted for the application Adobe-Connect, which allows for visual, voiced and textual group interactions and collaborative work with the possibility to share textual, visual and sound files, a whiteboard and the screen of one of the participants in the environment.
The system also allows for peer writing activities on line and the recording of interaction sessions for later reflection, analysis or research activities. The lay-out is flexible as the host can create or delete pods and adapt their location and size as needed.
All language clusters of the project (Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) and target groups (tertiary and secondary education level students and pre-service teachers) participate in cross-cultural interaction sessions through video-web communication in a one to one or one to two interaction format settings. One of the participants in each interaction group is the native pre-service teacher or more expert peer.
Student session Dutch
Type: Videocommunication session
For the sessions different interaction tasks have been developed and tested according to design criteria based on second language acquisition research, task based language teaching and intercultural communication.
The video-web communication sessions are integrated in formal academic courses, where face-to-face sessions with the teacher combine with the possibility for students to engage in purposeful virtual interactions with peers, promoting in this way a blended teaching system.
The technical requirements for video-web communication are a good computer, a webcam, headsets and broadband connection to internet.
The results of pilots and follow-up sessions indicate so far that:
- Participants like and enjoy the interactions. Sessions have a positive effect on motivation.
- They have the impression to be learning a lot: they get relevant learning experiences.
- Frequent instances of negotiation of social and cultural meaning arise in the interactions: Substantial learning takes place.
- Interactions are carried out in a supportive atmosphere, with laughter and jokes going on, pre-service teachers giving positive feedback. Sessions have a positive impact in the affective filter.
- Tasks are motivating, especially those having a cultural focus and incorporating a gaming component. Learning is motivating and fun.
- They make friends and continue communication though e-mail, skype, they even visit one another. Sessions have an added social value.
- Most of the participants would like to go on participating in the project.