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Project summary

TeCoLa: Pedagogical Differentiation through Telecollaboration and Gaming for Intercultural and Content Integrated Language Teaching

The TeCoLa project addresses urgent needs in secondary foreign language education for strengthening and enriching intercultural communicative competence development through the pedagogical integration of virtual exchanges and telecollaboration. 

Partners from six countries - Utrecht University (NE), LINK: Linguistik & Interkulturelle Kommunikation (DE), University of Roehampton (UK), University of Antwerp (BE), University of Valencia (ES), Transit Lingua (FR), and 3DLES (NE) - combine their expertise in intercultural foreign language learning and teaching, virtual world development, telecollaboration technologies, instructional task design, and teacher education. 

The consortium aimed to develop, implement and evaluate an innovative and gamified telecollaboration approach for intercultural foreign language learning. Special attention was given to issues of authentication of foreign language learning, pedagogically mediated lingua franca communication, subject integrated language learning, learning diversity, cooperative learning, guided autonomy and scaffolding, learner agency and emancipation. 

Virtual exchanges among peers from different socio-cultural, educational and language backgrounds across Europe and beyond provided both a medium and a testbed for pedagogically implementing and evaluating a diversified range of intercultural foreign language telecollaboration encounters and activities. Successful transformation of teachers’ existing pedagogical practices was facilitated by a continuous coaching collaboration between TeCoLa experts and the teachers involved in virtual exchanges. 

Key project results are the TeCoLa Teacher Resources available for access and download in the TeCoLa OER on the project website (www.tecola.eu). The resources were developed and evaluated in close connection with 23 virtual exchanges involving 44 teachers and 860 students in secondary (regular, bilingual and technical), primary (regular and CLIL) and vocational schools from ten countries. They provide pedagogical and technological support for teachers and teacher educators with an interest in using gamified telecollaboration to enhance intercultural foreign language learning by taking their students outside and beyond the face-to-face classroom. 

The TeCoLa Teacher Resources comprise telecollaboration TOOLS (including The TeCoLa Virtual World and BigBlueButton video rooms through Moodle courses), 109 TASKS for intercultural telecollaboration in English, German, French and Spanish, pedagogical GUIDES, CASE STUDY reports, and VOICES from teachers, students, and experts. Accompanying views on the TeCoLa approach and results are provided by video recordings from TeCoLa Seminars on "Gamified Intercultural Telecollaboration for Foreign Language Learning" in London, Bordeaux, and Utrecht and available from the TeCola website.

The collaboration with teachers and teacher educators participating with their own TeCoLa virtual exchanges showed evidence of a strong short-term impact. Generally, both teachers and students involved perceived and appreciated the pedagogical opportunities of virtual exchanges and telecollaboration activities for strengthening intercultural communicative practice and learning outside and beyond the natural limitations of the face-to-face classroom. Encouraged by this highly positive reception the TeCoLa approach has received among its active participants, the project team endeavours to ensure a long-term impact with future TeCoLa virtual exchanges through the combined effect of four measures: (a) the TeCoLa website with tried and tested Teacher Resources, (b) the continuing availability of the TeCoLa tool ensemble including the TeCoLa Virtual World, BigBlueButton video rooms and Moodle, (c) ongoing support for TeCoLa virtual exchanges, and (d) dissemination for understanding and action through publications, conference presentations, workshops, and eTwinning webinars.