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Virtual Exchange and internationalising the classroom

Telecollaboration, or ‘Virtual Exchange’ refers to the application of online communication tools to bring together classes of learners in geographically distant locations with the aim of developing their foreign language skills, digital competence and intercultural competence through online collaborative tasks and project work. In recent years approaches to Virtual Exchange have evolved in different contexts and different areas of university education and these approaches have had, at times, very diverse organisational structures and pedagogical objectives. This article provides an overview of the different models and approaches to Virtual Exchange which are currently being used in higher education contexts and outlines how the activity has contributed to internationalising university education to date.

KEYWORDS: telecollaboration, virtual exchange, online communication, digital competence, intercultural competence

Robert O’Dowd. Associate Professor at the University of León, Spain. Has taught at universities in Ireland, Germany and Spain. Has published widely on the application of Virtual Exchange in university education. His most recent publication is the co- edited volume Online Intercultural Exchange Policy, Pedagogy, Practice for Routledge. Has recently coordinated INTENT – a project financed by the European Commission aimed at promoting online intercultural exchange in European Higher Education. Currently coordinates the Erasmus+ Key Action 3 project Evaluating and Upscaling Telecollaborative Teacher Education (EVALUATE).


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