Evaluating and Upscaling Telecollaborative Teacher Education

1st February 2017 - 30th September 2019

The EVALUATE project responds to the concern of the participating national and regional public authorities that the increased availability of online technologies in teacher education is not being accompanied by the integration of student-centred, innovative and collaborative approaches to teaching. With this in mind, EVALUATE will test one online collaborative approach – telecollaborative exchange – and assess its impact on the development of linguistic, intercultural and digital-pedagogical competences for trainee teachers. EVALUATE at The Open University (OU) is led by Tim Lewis from the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS).

Telecollaboration, also known as Virtual Exchange, involves engaging learners in task-based interaction and collaborative exchange with fellow trainees in other locations through online communication technologies with the aim of developing their intercultural, foreign language and digital competences. In European school education, telecollaboration has already been recognised as a powerful tool for the development of students’ competences. But the European Commission’s Communication New Priorities for European Cooperation in Education and Training has highlighted the need to train student-teachers to use ICT tools in combination with such innovative pedagogies.

There already exists a large number of small-scale studies which provide evidence to support the claims that by being engaged in online collaborative project work together with partners in different cultures, trainee-teachers will develop linguistic intercultural and digital-pedagogical competences which they will later employ in their own teaching. However, these beliefs require thorough interrogation, and a recent review of the literatureestablished that there is still a need to build on the existing small-scale studies in order to provide large-scale empirical evidence of the impact of telecollaborative exchange on trainee-teachers’ competences. Furthermore, it has also been shown that one of the barriers to the telecollaborative format eTwinning is that it is not included in pre-service teacher education. Whilst eTwinning offers continuous professional development for in-service teachers, the take-up of such telecollaborative initiatives will remain limited until trainee-teachers are given the opportunity to experience these online learning experiences during their own training.