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Globalizing On-line

Telecollaboration, Internationalization, and Social Justice

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Edited By Nataly Tcherepashenets

Internationalization plays an important role in shaping the philosophy and practice of higher education, and it is arguably one of the most durable University achievements. Offering creative ways to achieve a shift from isolation to communication between people of different economic, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, telecollaboration exemplifies challenges and rewards of internationalization in the epoch of e-learning. In our interconnected world the tasks of both bringing the equality of opportunities and promoting intercultural dialogue continue to be priorities for education, whose major objective and obligation is an expansion of the freedoms of human beings. In the era of globalization, its fulfillment more than ever depends on making it possible for people of different backgrounds to participate in intercultural dialogue on equal terms. Intercultural collaborations in virtual environments offer unique opportunities for the realization of this goal. This book explores both a contribution of telecollaboration to the democratic education, solidarity and social justice in the globalized world as well as the complexities and challenges that arise from attempts to align international collaborations and social justice.
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Student-driven intercultural awareness raising with MexCo: agency, autonomy and threshold concepts in a telecollaborative project between the UK and Mexico

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This chapter reports on an international intercultural telecollaborative project – MexCo – involving students and staff at Coventry University UK (Department of English and Languages), staff at the University of Warwick UK (Language Centre) and staff and students at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Departamento de Lenguas Extranjeras, Facultad de Estudios Superiores Zaragoza).

The aim of MexCo was originally to investigate online tandem language learning, but it subsequently developed into a wider study aimed at investigating its participants’ “cultural frames” as defined by Gumperz and Roberts (1991). Students designed digital learning objects based on their telecollaborative forum postings that provided revealing insights into their perceptions of what constitutes ‘culture’. Data collected demonstrate that the project has given students the opportunity “to confront and deal with the prejudices, stereotypes and myths that they hold about other social groups and cultures and that others may hold about them” (O’Dowd 2007: 29).

Areas of troublesome knowledge emerged. The linguistic exchanges in the dedicated asynchronous Moodle forum and the analysis of the transcription of the semi-structured interviews, brought to the fore the ways in which language reveals perceptions of power relationships amongst the agents involved, as discussed in critical discourse analysis (Fairclough 1995). The nature of the socio-cultural constructions emerging from MexCo and the way many students were able to review their initial perception of ‘the other’ during their transformative telecollaboration journey highlighted the power that such projects can exert towards the support of a raised awareness...

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