Thursday, 21 August 2014
L. Cuesta Medina and P Alvarez Ayure:n Fostering Collaboration in CALL: benefits and challenges of using virtual language resource centres
The presentation discusses a research action pilot project based on a group of 16 teachers on an MA degree in language teaching in Colombia. The creation of virtual language resource centres (VLRC) is a step towards addressing the lack of both printed and digital resources available to the language learner and teacher. Factors taken into account in setting up the VLRCs the matching of the new digital resources to the needs and levels of the students. Amongst the design principles taken into considerations for the creation of the 9 VLRCs were learner centred approach, (which involved training the teachers in giving learning strategy training, LMS and web 2.0 training in order to operate in the new learning environment on their own); distance and online learning instruction as assets to facilitate lifelong learning (Paquette 2000),; contribute to the creation of a sense of a community; constructivist pedagogy. The pilot project saw collaboration between students of different schools in the same city, as well as between students in different parts of the country. The second level of collaboration took place between teachers in different parts of the country, working together to create the VLRCs. The project outcomes highlighted the potential of VLRCs in the process of bridging the digital divide. They further encouraged learner autonomy, facilitated access and use of web 2 tools as well as providing a customised learner experience. However, it also stressed the continued need for staff and student training on the creation/use of VLRCs.