In This Together

Teachers' Experiences with Transnational, Telecollaborative Language Learning Projects

by Melinda Ann Dooly Owenby (Volume editor) Robert O'Dowd (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection 232 Pages
Open Access


This book provides a nexus between research and practice through teachers’ narratives of their experiences with telecollaboration. The book begins with a chapter outlining the pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings of telecollaboration (also known as Virtual Exchange), followed by eight chapters that explain telecollaborative project design, materials and activities as well as frank discussions of obstacles met and resolved during the project implementation. The projects described in the volume serve as excellent examples for any teacher or education stakeholder interested in setting up their own telecollaborative exchange.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Series Editors’ Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1. Telecollaboration in the foreign language classroom: A review of its origins and its application to language teaching practice (Melinda Dooly / Robert O’Dowd)
  • Chapter 2. A telecollaborative science project: Searching for new ways to make language learning authentic (Anaïs García-Martínez / Maria Gracia-Téllez)
  • Chapter 3. Are we really that different? A telecollaborative project between refugee students from Myanmar and a primary school in Sabadell (Spain) (Anna Morcilo Salas)
  • Chapter 4. Tips and suggestions to implement telecollaborative projects with young learners (Maria Mont / Dolors Masats)
  • Chapter 5. Making a difference: Reflecting on a telecollaborative project aimed at social change (Alexandra Bonet Pueyo)
  • Chapter 6. What makes our schools unique? A telecollaborative experience from the perspective of two ‘new-comers’ (Granada Bejarano Sánchez / Gerard Giménez Manrique)
  • Chapter 7. Intercultural meetings in a Swedish – Kiwi e-mail exchange: Lessons Learnt (Jennie Ingelsson / Anna Linder)
  • Chapter 8. Global goals: A virtual project with students from Sweden and Tanzania (Sara Bruun)
  • Chapter 9. Afterword: Looking back and looking forward: What is the future of telecollaboration? (Randall William Sadler)
  • About the authors
  • Series index

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Series Editors’ Preface

This series is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the activity of telecollaboration in educational settings. Since the first book that was published in this series in 2010 (Guth & Helm), this practice has grown extensively and the ways in which online or digital exchanges are referred to, defined and applied to teaching vary greatly, depending on the context and content of the exchanges; so much so that we have taken some time in our introductory chapter of this volume to reflect on this.

From the first volume published in this series onwards, we have defined ‘telecollaboration’ as referring to the pedagogical processes and outcomes of engaging learners in different geographical locations in virtual contact together, mediated through the application of online communication tools such as e-mail, synchronous chat and threaded discussion as well as the tools of Web 2.0 such as wikis, blogs, social networking and 3D virtual worlds. The application of such activity may include different subject areas (e.g. Foreign Language Education, History, Science) as well as different educational contexts, including but not limited to primary, secondary, university and adult education. In our introductory chapter, we offer more extensive definitions of the word, as well as discussion of other terms that have been used recently, such as ‘virtual exchange’, ‘teletandem’ and ‘online intercultural exchange’ –all of which have salient reasons for being applied to the practice of intercultural exchanges between geographically distanced individuals or group, facilitated through communication media. However, in the end, we have opted in this volume to continue with the term ‘telecollaboration’ for various motives, not least of which is the long and well-documented history of telecollaborative research and practice in foreign language education.

And yet, despite a long tradition, telecollaboration is still not as predominant in educational practices as one might hope, particularly in primary and secondary education. This may be due to a dearth of examples and models of telecollaborative exchanges carried out by teachers. The case studies included here are written by teachers, who like so many ← 7 | 8 → other educators around the world, are ‘making do’ with few resources, lots of imagination, combined with enthusiasm and interest for innovating their own teaching methodologies. With this in mind, our sixth book in the series highlights meaningful experiences in telecollaboration and virtual exchange, described by practicing teachers and teacher candidates who have empirical knowledge of designing, implementing and assessing innovative transglobal projects. These cases can serve current and future primary and secondary school teachers who wish to learn more about this type of language education approach. The chapters include descriptions of contextualized telecollaboration projects, focusing on challenges encountered before, during or after the telecollaborative exchange. The authors outline the solutions and strategies they found for these problems and even offer examples of materials they designed for the exchanges, as well as discussing the technological resources they found to be most useful.

The volume aims to provide a space for teachers’ voices in the nexus between research and practice through their narratives of their own experiences. The content in this book applies to different levels of education and learner ages (from early childhood to early secondary school education) and gives refreshing insight into authentic experiences, including frank discussion by these practitioners of obstacles and difficulties that emerged during their exchanges. The teachers’ voices sing throughout these case studies, demonstrating how research and practice on telecollaboration can be synthesized while making both the underlying theories and the practical steps for undertaking similar exchanges accessible to the busy teacher of today.

Melinda Dooly, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Robert O’Dowd, Universidad de León, Spain

4 March 2018


Guth, S., & Helm, F. (Eds.) (2010). Telecollaboration 2.0: Language, literacy and intercultural learning in the 21st Century. Bern: Peter Lang.

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Our sincerest gratitude to all the authors/teachers who have agreed to contribute to this book. Their innovative work and enthusiasm for teaching is an inspiration to us all.

In the spirit of making their experiences accessible to teachers around the world, we have decided to make this book free open access. This would not have been possible without funding by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry & Competitivity: Proyectos I+D del Programa Estatal de Fomento de la Investigación Científica y Técnica de Excelencia in the form of a grant for the KONECT project (Knowledge for Network-based Education, Cognition & Teaching). Grant number: EDU2013-43932-P); 2013–2017. ← 9 | 10 →

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Chapter 1.  Telecollaboration in the foreign language classroom: A review of its origins and its application to language teaching practice


This volume looks at the application of pedagogically-structured online collaborative learning initiatives between groups of learners in different geographical locations. This type of exchange is commonly known in foreign language education as telecollaborative learning. Specifically, the chapters in this book outline language learning projects, designed and carried out by primary and secondary teachers, working telecollaboratively with partners from around the globe. The projects can serve as inspiring models for other teachers who are interesting in innovating their teaching practices, especially as these teachers very openly describe the challenges they faced and how they overcame them, as well as the many rewarding outcomes they (and their students) derived from the experiences. The authors/teachers are also very generous in sharing materials they have designed for their telecollaborative projects and even offer tips on how to avoid some of the possible pitfalls that they themselves encountered.

For many of us who have been involved in telecollaboration for some time now, it would have been difficult to predict how rapidly interest in telecollaborative language teaching and learning would rise in popularity around the world in the past few years. Just ten years ago it was difficult to find any mention of telecollaboration in journals, books or even online, with the exception of a few highly specialized sections of academic conferences or publications. For instance, when first writing ← 11 | 12 → about our own telecollaborative experiences from the mid 2000’s, it was a challenge to find ‘fellow telecollaborators’ to contribute to a book on innovative approaches to teaching and learning languages. When the book was published, there was only one other submission on telecollaboration (Sadler & Eröz, 2008) in addition to our own chapter (Dooly & Ellermann, 2008). For our guidebook on telecollaboration published the same year (Dooly, 2008), only nine online websites related to online exchanges could be identified. Now, only a decade later, a simple search engine produces hundreds of references, including very large associations that offer mass online exchanges for diverse profiles (class to class, individual to individual at primary, secondary and university levels). In terms of changes in education, this is very rapid indeed.

Despite its growing popularity, telecollaboration (or as it is recently often called ‘virtual exchange’) is not new to the world of education. Of course, the technology used for creating and supporting exchange practices between distanced partners has changed drastically in recent years, but the practice itself has been around for at least a century, if not more (depending on how you categorize it). As Kern (2013) points out, “School pen pal exchanges and even multimedia exchanges have existed since at least the 1920’s when Célestin Freinet established the Modern School Movement in Europe” (Kern, 2013, p. 206). Dooly (2017) remarks that collaboration between geographically distanced classes has been documented as far back as the late 1800s and early 1900s.


ISBN (Softcover)
Open Access
Publication date
2018 (June)
Telecollaboration Virtual Exchange Project-Based Language Learning narrative
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 232 pp., 34 fig. col., 4 fig. b/w, 20 tables, 28 graphs

Biographical notes

Melinda Ann Dooly Owenby (Volume editor) Robert O'Dowd (Volume editor)

Dr. Melinda Dooly is senior lecturer and researcher at the School ofEducation, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. She has investigatedand published widely on issues related to teacher education and languageeducation mediated through technology. She is lead researcher of a SpanishMinistry funded project on 21st century competences in education(KONECT). She has taught in different countries worldwide, includingan honorary lectureship at the Institute of Education University CollegeLondon. She is co-editor, along with Dr. Robert O’Dowd, of the bookseries entitled: Telecollaboration in Education. Dr. Robert O’Dowd is senior lecturer and researcher for English as aForeign Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of León,Spain. He has taught at universities in Ireland, Germany and Spain andhas published widely on the application of collaborative online learning inuniversity education. His most recent publication is the co-edited volumeOnline Intercultural Exchange Policy, Pedagogy, Practice for Routledge.He recently coordinated INTENT – an award-winning project financed bythe European Commission aimed at promoting Virtual Exchange in EuropeanHigher Education and is currently the lead researcher on the EuropeanCommission’s Erasmus plus KA3 project Evaluating and UpscalingTelecollaborative Teacher Education (EVALUATE). He is also presidentof the UNICollaboration academic organization for telecollaboration andvirtual exchange (www.unicollaboration.org).


Title: In This Together