VAMOS have just completed a 5-week Collaborative Online Training on Virtual Exchange Project Design held by UNICollaboration. Teachers from Honduras, Brazil and Sweden have been learning about VE and how to design pilot exchanges which will be embedded in existing courses at their institutions. The training focused on developing three pilot projects which will be trialled in the spring of 2022. The participants were divided into groups to work on the pilots which will focus on Water and Forests, Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Consumption and Living.
The goal of a VE is to establish cross-cultural collaboration and intercultural communication. By working across geographical divides and cultural otherness, students are encouraged to become curious about other countries and communities. In exchanges that will last between 4-8 weeks depending on the institutions involved, they are invited to collaborate and work on a bespoke project in international teams. They will compare and contrast a local wicked problem and explore what can be done to address and ultimately alleviate the issue moving from local to ‘glocal’. It isn’t easy and takes commitment and perseverance, but the stakes are high and the issues are pressing, so hopefully students will be motivated to work together to take steps to help address their wicked problems for the greater good of humanity.”
Trainers in the Collaborative Online Training on Virtual Exchange Project Design
Dr. Mirjam Hauck, Associate Head for Internationalisation, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, School of Languages and Applied Linguistics, Open University/UK
Mirjam is a Senior Fellow of the UK’s Higher Education Academy. She has written numerous articles and book chapters on the use of technologies for the learning and teaching of languages and cultures, in virtual exchange contexts in particular. Her work covers aspects such as learner and teacher autonomy, intercultural communicative competence and critical digital literacy. She presents regularly at conferences, seminars and workshops worldwide. She is the President of the European Association for Computer Assisted Language.
Teresa Calderón Quindós, Doctor in English Studies and teacher of General English, School of Education and Social Work, University of Valladolid, Spain.
Teresa has more than 25 years of experience in the Erasmus program and has participated in virtual training with Latin American and EU universities in Erasmus+ Projects such as EVALUATE and REC-MAT. Her research interests started in Cognitive Poetics and in 2005 her work was awarded the National Prize in Applied Linguistics by AESLA. Currently, she is more focused on issues related to education, such as Bilingual Education and interlingual education in vulnerable social contexts. She was Vice Dean for Practicum and International Relations and Vice Dean for Academic Affairs for 5 years.
Learning outcomes from the training
- improve the understanding of the VE rationale
- increase the awareness of the role of VE in supporting intercultural exchange and the development of transversal skills
- understand how to develop co-designed VEs
- develop methods to ensure recognition of VE activities
- enhance the teamwork & digital competences
- design a VE project
Now the work will continue with developing the pilots with the support from UNICollaboration. However, already next week VAMOS will host a Masterclass in Virtual exchange for staff at their universities.
To learn more about the training check-out these interviews:
“I strongly recommend that all teachers designing and implementing a VE should try out the activities they want their students to do. Only in this way will it become real and the challenges will come to the fore” – Dr Mirjam Hauck
“I know VE can work and connections can be made. It is possible to broaden your network and the students will see another world and another culture out there. They will see the same challenges and maybe different solutions needed to the same wicked problems”- Leonie Paul