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Telling Stories: Using Virtual Learning Spaces to Enhance the Year Abroad Experience.

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Presentation on theme: "Telling Stories: Using Virtual Learning Spaces to Enhance the Year Abroad Experience."— Presentation transcript:

1 Telling Stories: Using Virtual Learning Spaces to Enhance the Year Abroad Experience

2 Who are the stakeholders? Students of French in France:  English language assistants  University Students (Erasmus programme)  Paid work Students of French in Germany and Italy  Usually university students (Erasmus programme)

3 Who are the stakeholders? French department lecteur team  Correct formative work produced by students during their year abroad Final-year language teaching team  Help students to use French materials gathered once they return Careers department  Help students to make the most of their newly-acquired experiences

4 The current picture: formal learning tasks and the year abroad 3 formative essays (students choose their own titles) 2-3 dossiers of French language resources to be used in final-year language classes (students choose dossier topics) (none of these exercises is summative)

5 Improving the year abroad with a VLE ADVANTAGES Dedicated French year abroad online space Ease of electronic submission and feedback for formative tasks Peer learning environment Dossier / portfolio building environment

6 Creating the French Year Abroad page  Key themes: Accessibility, relevance, collaboration  Lack of previous VLE system at Warwick posed initial barrier  Solution: warm introduction, clear expectations

7 Submission and feedback area Aim to facilitate submission of year abroad essays (previously posted to dept.) Capacity for online feedback through voice email Opportunity to gain feedback from students on submission/ feedback process

8 Collaborative area Aim to maximise interaction between dept. and YA students Activities included Voice Board, Voice Email and forum (most popular; more in common with familiar Sitebuilder forum)

9 Dossier area : Mahara  Multi-media area for creation of electronic language dossiers  Barrier: How to encourage students to use the dossier area/Mahara  Initial usage slow  Produced series of ‘How to’ guides for students to increase up-take

10 Mock dossier pages in Mahara

11 Responses from the Stakeholders

12 The formative essay: lecteur involvement Using the site is ‘as easy as abc’ (Ornella, lectrice) ‘I think that giving positive comments, even when the copy is very bad, is a good thing. French teachers and lecturers don’t do the same.’ (Aurore) ‘it’s clearer for the students when we mark [the essays] electronically’ (Aurore, lectrice)

13 Lecteur involvement I think that a system of colours could be adopted in the process of marking itself. It could be a good idea to underline or to write in red for example the mistakes or things which are not correct and another colour to focus on good and positive aspects of the essay. (Ornella) Many students don't use prepositions properly and get mixed up. I think you should add this section. (Jen)

14 The formative essay: student responses to feedback mechanism ‘The comments in the margins electronically are much better than the hand marked essays from first and second year and you can keep on refering [sic] to it as it is on the computer.’ (Clare) ‘The online upload was quick and easy. It was useful having an electronic version of the feedback for future reference because papers can easily get lost when moving from country to country.’ (Louise)

15 The formative essay: student responses to feedback ‘The detail of feedback for generally satisfactory [sic], but it's not always useful just knowing what is wrong when you don't know how to make it right.’ (Matthew) ‘maybe it (Mahara) could be used as a space for new language skills too. Link an article, comment on vocab and different idiomatic contructions and share these with others so people can learn from each other.’ (Matthew)

16 Sharing good practice: the forum

17 ‘I think a lesson plan swap section is essential. I think there should also be separate sections for things like Finance, Health and Leisure as these are the areas where people are likely to have questions or experiences to share.’ (Sophie) ‘I think bouncing ideas off other people doing the same thing and finding out what works for other people is invaluable.’ Sophie, participant

18 Building dossiers and portfolios Building dossiers: Mahara

19 refref Reflections leading to essays

20 ‘I do like the dossiers being online, as it makes me much more inclined to do it. If i had to print everything off, put it in a folder I would find it very frustrating.’ (Matthew) ‘I do keep a collection of articles, postcards, photos etc but I would prefer to relect on them as physical objects at the end rather than keep a blog or so.’ (Clare)

21 ‘Chosing [sic] the titles was hard but at the same time the complete liberty was wonderful and I actually ended up writing and researching topics which originally I would never had contemplated if the titles had been given to me, and therefore I discovered more about France.’ (Clare)

22 Skills Building

23 What next? Year abroad as language training  Help students improve (stimulate language production and feed forward) Year abroad as open space learning:  Student as researcher  Anything possible: learning outcomes to be defined by student  Scaffold open-ended tasks Year abroad as skills building  What should I record? What is relevant experience?

24 Open-space learning Experiential / Constructivist Collaborative Transgressive Productive Nicholas Monk, Carol Chilington Rutter, Jonothan Neelands and Jonathan Heron, Open-space Learning: A Study in Transdisciplinary Pedagogy (London: Bloomsbury, 2011)

25 Can Mahara / moodle create open- space learners? Creative, open-ended space. Here’s a list of what students would like to do:  Video diary  Design resource pack for future students  Blog  Press summary / book review

26 How can we help them? Seed the forum to maintain regular student interaction: regular postgraduate oversight of site Ensure all students are aware of Mahara’s role ‘Mahara was initially confusing for me. I think the problem was that I didn't really get the concept of the site.’ Louise, participant

27 Mahara: a commonplace book for the digital age?

28 Helping students produce their commonplace book in Mahara Categorising material  What questions might I ask myself next year?  Collect questions: from job advertisements, exam papers, etc… what paths of knowledge can I plot? Tagging and editing Organising material by key words Providing scaffolds and templates

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