Rationale

It is our position that teachers will have a key role in preparing future citizens to be ‘e-functional’. Being 'e-functional' entails many areas of competences, apart from digital and linguistic skills, not least of which are the ability to employ multiple literacies in order to work and communicate in multilingual and multimodal contexts. Even as students become increasingly more adept at the use of technology, schools must help them couple these digital capacities with the type of knowledge construction that they will need in an interconnected world in order to ‘e-function’ effectively.

 

Taking an action research approach, this project proposes specific measures for improving primary and middle-school students’ communicative and academic skills in order to better ensure their responsible participation in our knowledge society. This study designs and implements international, telecollaborative projects that present communicative and cognitive challenges to the students in order to pinpoint the necessary skills for participating effectively in a network-based learning environment. Due to the international partnerships between classrooms, students will develop other proficiencies such as English as a Lingua Franca and intercultural communicative competences. Naturalistic data is recorded, compiled and transcribed from these implementations in order to analyse, evaluate and expand on them. Results from the analysis will serve for an educational reference model that can be used in teacher education and other learning contexts. The study also aims to contribute to the growing scientific interest in the analysis of computer-mediated interactions for knowledge construction.

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In a world where it is predicted that 60% of jobs in 2020 have not been invented yet (Frey, 2011), technology-enhanced teaching can no longer be understood as ‘how to prepare a powerpoint’. Most predictions about future jobs include descriptions of remote working, facilitated through cloud-driven communities and crowd-sourcing techniques; an increasingly connected world is bringing about radical changes in how we carry out business, research, has had a significant impact on education and of course has contributed to new personal interactions through pluricultural and plurilingual exchangs. All of this underscores the need to be able to cope personally and professionally with the conditions and challenges of working, communicating and ‘living’ with others digitally. 

With this in mind, this research project –which falls within the expanding framework of previous studies carried out by members of the applicant research team (GREIP) – aims to establish parameters for innovative, cross-disciplinary teaching of languages that is in-synch with the needs of today’s society. 

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