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IT-mediated learning collaboration

Subject: French Language Proficiency. Course: Oral Language Proficiency, Written Language Skills and Theoretical Language. Study level: Bachelor’s and Master’s. Size of class: 20 students from Aarhus and 20 students from Clermont-Ferrand.

Motivation for the activity

The concrete activity is IT mediated learning collaboration between Aarhus University and the University of Clermont-Ferrand.  An online exchange course (tele collaboration) with an educational institution abroad exposes the Danish students to real-life situations and contexts.  In their communication with the partners abroad, the students must be able to manage without using their native language, which increases both their oral and written skills in the foreign language in question.

The objectives of the activity

The activity is meant to increase the students’ oral and written skills in the French language and to expand their perception of French culture.  It provides the students with a number of tools which will help them analyse and use the language.  In addition to the Danish-French learning collaboration, similar activities in previous semesters have involved students from other countries (China, South America, Mauritius). The activity contributes to expanding the students’ perception of cultures in other parts of the world.

Description of the activity

The teacher must establish contact and collaboration with a university or other educational institution in another country.  This should be done in the previous semester.

  • In collaboration with the institution concerned, a common protocol should be prepared, and joint decisions should be made on how the different activities can/should develop.  It is the teachers’ responsibility to supervise and evaluate the activities on a regular basis. 

  • The teachers select online didactic tools to perform the activities. In the collaboration between Aarhus and Clermont-Ferrand, two didactic tools were used; Moodle and a Wordpress blog. Moodle is a private didactic platform to which the students can get access with a username and password. The blog, however, is an open and public platform to which everyone has access. In both platforms, the students have access to the assignments they should complete, and they can also upload their completed assignments to the platforms. View an example here (in French).

  • During the collaboration, the students participate in video conferences on Skype with their partners abroad. The topics that are discussed are selected jointly by the two institutions. Before they discuss the topics, the students must prepare thoroughly to ensure that everyone has a good experience when engaging in the activities. 

  • After the video conferences, the students from both institutions should send and receive feedback on their performance and give their opinion about the topic or task concerned. 

Outcome of the activity

The activity has given the students a chance to write and speak on a regular basis with a partner in France.  The teacher’s primary purpose of the activity is to create an opportunity for the Danish students to produce and use the foreign language more than they would during normal teaching. Moreover, the students have had a chance to reflect on their own use of the language, including their pronunciation, vocabulary and syntax, and on how they might communicate more efficiently.   In this activity, the students must also consider and use general communication competences when introducing their own culture. 

Worth considering:

  • It is important to be positive and make space for cultural differences, even if mistakes, differences of opinion and different work approaches occur.  The teachers have the important task of telling the students that everyone is in this to collaborate, and that communication with partners abroad is rarely flawless.
  • It is important that the students receive feedback soon after each activity. This may be a challenge, however, because activities are not stopped during weekends.  At some point I was late giving feedback because I had accepted giving individual feedback to all students, not knowing how much work this involved.  I learnt from this experience that it is important to not be too ambitious the first few times you are involved in such projects.
  • It is important to bear in mind that to be able to respect each other’s timetables and calendars, the institutions should divide the work between them in a sensible manner.  


    Examples of practice

      Links and materials for this example of practice: