Resilient Connections for Global Citizenship – Virtual Exchanges in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Conference: The European Conference on Language Learning (ECLL2022)
Title: Resilient Connections for Global Citizenship – Virtual Exchanges in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Stream: Educational Technologies
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Matt Absalom, University of Melbourne, Australia
Roberta Trapè, University of Melbourne, Australia


Due to COVID-19, overseas exchange had become an unlikely possibility. In-country experience is a watershed moment for students of languages and cultures which is irreplaceable in the arsenal of other possibilities that languages educators have at their disposal. In this paper, we describe our attempts to salvage one of the key aspects of overseas exchange – intercultural linguistic connection with peers. We designed a telecollaborative project (O’Dowd 2009, 2017, 2018) between Italian students at University of Melbourne students and English students at Liceo Linguistico Adelaide Cairoli. The project directly references the transnational model of virtual exchange for global citizenship education (O’Dowd 2019) and is based on a pedagogical orientation towards real-world language use and authentic communication (Trapè, 2020). Over a six-week period, students communicated synchronously via technology on a set of weekly topics as stimuli in 2021 and 2022. The virtual exchange aims to trigger students’ linguistic and intercultural development through dialogical interaction in an authentic learning environment with a focus on comprehensible language. Students supported their experience with ongoing reflective tasks that explored different aspects of the student experience. In 2022, we extended the virtual exchange by adding the co-creation of a strategy to deal with pressing global issues (OECD 2020, 2021) as a way of promoting the development of global competence. We describe the project in detail and discuss student perceptions of their experience and learning as well as next steps in the project.

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