Evaluating and Upscaling Telecollaborative Teacher Education


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


This European Policy Experimentation evaluated the impact of telecollaborative learning on student-teachers involved in Initial Teacher Education in the participating European countries and regions. Telecollaboration, also commonly known as Virtual Exchange, which involved engaging trainee teachers involved in Initial Teacher Education in task-based interaction and collaborative exchange with fellow trainees in other locations through online communication technologies.

This study brought together the experiences of more than a thousand students of initial teacher education and 51 teachers who took part in 25 projects based on the same model of virtual exchange. The different parts of this study looked at the impact of these virtual exchanges on three competence sets – intercultural, digital-pedagogical, and foreign language – and also examined the experiences of the teacher trainers who integrated these exchanges into their classes.

The majority of both students and teachers confirmed that they had found virtual exchange to be an enriching and enjoyable learning activity in their courses and that they would recommend extending its use to other courses. Our study also demonstrated that engaging students in structured online intercultural collaboration as part of their formal learning contributes to the development of students’ digital-pedagogical, intercultural and foreign language competence sets. This was seen in the quantitative studies which showed steady growth in both intercultural and TPACK (digital-pedagogical) scores in both iterations of our study as well as in the qualitative studies.

The role of IET

The OU and IET in particular was responsible for the design, implementation and evaluation of the quantitative measurement of three competence sets across 1000+ students participating in 25 virtual exchanges. In Study 1, we used a (quasi-) experimental design of 3 VEs in an experimental (n = 151) or control group (n = 77) to explore the impact on TPACK. In Study 2, we used a larger sample of 20 VEs and 394 participants to replicate and contrast the findings from Study 1 in a broader context. The quantitative findings showed a mixed development of the three skills over time. Follow-up qualitative analyses published in a range of journals indicated the complex reasons why some learners substantially benefited from virtual exchange, and others did not.


The Evaluate project is the largest evidence-based application of virtual exchange, across a large number of contexts and countries. This has substantially informed EU policy and practice, and is currently up-scaled in a range of projects. Four publications have emerged from this project:

  1. Hauck, Mirjam; Müller-Hartmann, Andreas; Rienties, Bart and Rogaten, Jekaterina (2020). Approaches to researching digital-pedagogical competence development in VE-based teacher education. Journal of Virtual Exchange, 3(SI) pp. 5–35.
  2. Rets, IrinaRienties, Bart and Lewis, Tim (2020). Transforming pre-service teacher education through virtual exchange: a mixed-methods analysis of perceived TPACK development. Interactive Learning Environments (Early access).
  3. Rienties, BartLewis, Timothy; O'Dowd, Robert; Rets, Irina and Rogaten, Jekaterina (2020). The Impact of Virtual Exchange on TPACK and Foreign Language Acquisition: Reviewing a Large-Scale Implementation Across 23 Virtual Exchanges. Computer Assisted Language Learning (Early access).
  4. Baroni, Alice; Dooly, Melinda; Garcés García, Pilar; Guth, Sarah; Hauck, Mirjam; Helm, Francesca; Lewis, Tim; Mueller-Hartmann, Andreas; O’Dowd, Robert; Rienties, Bart and Rogaten, Jekaterina (2019). Evaluating the impact of virtual exchange on initial teacher education: a European policy experiment.



  • European Union


  • Eövös Loránd University
  • Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco
  • Junta de Castilla y León
  • Ministry of Education in Portugal
  • Ministry of Human Capacities in Budapest
  • Ministry of Science, Research and Arts in Baden-Württemberg
  • Padagogische Hochschule Heidelberg
  • Universidad de Leon
  • Universita' Degli Studi di Padova
  • Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona