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The Innovation Exchange Project: Online collaboration between HE students and secondary pupils Dr Sabine Little CILASS University of Sheffield, UK Subject.

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Presentation on theme: "The Innovation Exchange Project: Online collaboration between HE students and secondary pupils Dr Sabine Little CILASS University of Sheffield, UK Subject."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Innovation Exchange Project: Online collaboration between HE students and secondary pupils Dr Sabine Little CILASS University of Sheffield, UK Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies/ CILT conference Cardiff, 7 th July 2006

2 Overview The Innovation Exchange Project Background and Rationale Examples of work Findings Facilitating online outreach projects

3 The Innovation Exchange Project Funded by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) Innovation Unit Led by Association for Language Learning (ALL) and University Council of Modern Languages Three strands: Mentoring (London School of Economics) ‘Buddy Learning’ (Sheffield) Information and Learning Technology (support project)

4 Who’s buddying? A Year 9 German class (13-year-olds) from local secondary school (11-18yo), Sheffield (24 pupils) Six students from the University of Sheffield on their year abroad in Germany and Austria Facilitated by School of Education, University of Sheffield (Sabine Little)

5 Pedagogical underpinnings - 1 The chief argument in favour of group work as a means of developing learner autonomy is Vygotskyian in origin: collaboration between two or more learners on a constructive task can only be achieved by externalizing, and thus making explicit, processes of analysis, planning and synthesis that remain largely internal, and perhaps also largely implicit, when the task is performed by an individual learner working alone. Little (1996), p. 214

6 Pedagogical underpinnings - 2 At a social level collaborative learning mirrors the outside world and the world of work. Whilst there is clearly a need for every learner to achieve his/her maximum potential as an individual s/he must also develop the awareness and the skills needed to operate as a member of a team. Macaro (1997), p. 143

7 Rationale Increase exposure of undergraduate students to school-age children to encourage PGCE Increase level of collaboration and peer cognisance among school-age learners Increase exposure of Y9 pupils to innovative language learning experiences, to encourage uptake of languages at GCSE level Increase collaboration between departments at university level, and between university and schools, with view to future collaborative action research projects; Utilise ‘pull’ of motivational ICT activities for language learning.

8 Peer cognisance – a definition More than peer awareness - recognition, conscious knowledge, acknowledgement, observance, but also jurisdiction, i.e. responsibility. Also: the scope of somebody’s knowledge, demonstrating that ‘cognizance’ is not absolute, but can be increased and worked upon, showing a constant flux of learning.

9 Implementation 24 pupils, 6 students – six groups, each with four pupils and one student Duration: six weeks Three distinct phases, defined by three tasks: Research on geography/customs Personal homepage Christmas Communication via WebCT Regular visits by external facilitator Continuous evaluation through discussion, evaluative worksheets, and final focus group session

10 The online environment

11 Example of group work - 1

12 Example of group work - 2

13 Example of personal homepage

14 Findings 1.Groups with a higher level of peer cognisance communicated more frequently and were happier to work independently of facilitator (researching on Internet, looking up words in dictionary, etc.) 2.Peer cognisance can be facilitated by discussion of roles and responsibilities 3.Facilitated peer cognisance leads to increased motivation 4.Participants see motivation in medium, not specifically language 5.Pupils showed high preference to work in friendship groups, which gave them the confidence to use the foreign language 6.The students were overwhelmed by other new experiences – increased number of meetings between students and pupils may be needed to instill a sense of mutual responsibility and caring. 7.Extensive communication needed between external facilitator and school staff, to overcome potential difficulties (system down, class trip, etc.)

15 Findings - 2 S: Because she’s older, I know it sounds a bit silly, but like, it kind of takes the embarrassment away, because, like, you’re not embarrassed to […] ask questions. […] She’d always try and answer our questions. She’d never be like ‘Oh, I don’t want to answer that’, or ‘Oh, I couldn’t be bothered to find out.’ S: And I thought it was interesting, because sometimes, she [Heather]’d write stuff, and you’d just look at it and go: ‘Oh – my – God! What has she just said?’ So you’d have to go to your book and, like, piece together sentences, it’s like – ‘oh, I’ve never heard of that word before! S:When we were talking to her, because, like, cause I was playing rugby at school, I was, like, ‘oh, could you find out if there are any local…German…teams’ – and she did, and then I went onto their web site, and it was just really interesting, because it’s, like, quite similar, and you could see the similarities between, like, the two countries, and stuff. And you got to find out about, just loads of stuff. […] ‘Cause then I think it’s more…it’s got more of an…incentive to find out, more…about…[…] things.

16 Facilitating online outreach projects through peer cognisance Supporting initial face-to-face contact Setting inquiry-based learning task to engage pupils with target country and culture, and integrate ‘known’ ICT tasks (creation of poster, searching web) with less well-known tasks (online communication) Allow for separate discussion board for students, to share hints and tips on supporting students ‘Scaffold’ tasks to allow choice/autonomy within certain parameters Share thought processes/issues with participants Establish working relationships among staff, including calendar of upcoming events Think about incentivisation for students (reimbursing costs to get online) Encourage in-depth reflection on process where possible

17 Innovation Exchange: Case study available online Dr Sabine Little – References: Little, D (1996) ‘Freedom to learn and compulsion to interact: promoting learner autonomy through the use of information systems and information technologies’ in R Pemberton, E S L Li, W W F Or and H D Pierson (eds) Taking Control: Autonomy in Language Learning Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press Macaro, E (1997) Target Language, Collaborative Learning and Autonomy Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters


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