Volume 16 Number 2

Promoting Dialogue or Hegemonic Practice? Power Issues in Telecollaboration
Francesca Helm, Università degli Studi di Padova
Sarah Guth, Università degli Studi di Padova
Mohammed Farrah, Hebron University

This qualitative study explores the impact of potential linguistic, technical and educational hegemonies on the learning outcomes for English language students in Hebron, Palestine, and Padova, Italy, who were involved in the Soliya Connect Program, a telecollaboration project developed to explore critical issues that divide the ‘West’ and the ‘predominantly Arab and Muslim world’. The project is organised around weekly synchronous moderated video discussions between students from the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa. The authors first discuss the hegemonies that might be at play in this telecollaboration project and examine the specific power imbalances on the macro-, meso- and micro-levels that students in Hebron and Padova might experience. Then, drawing on data from learner diaries and reflective papers, facilitator reports, and questionnaires, the authors provide evidence for the emergence of a third space conceptualised as a site of struggle and conflict, but also a dialogic, fluid and evolving space. The aspects of the project that seemed to contribute most to the creation of a third space were found to be: (a) the role of trained facilitators in addressing power imbalances, (b) the dialogic approach to conflict that the program is based on, and (c) the use of audio-video conferencing which humanises the experience and increases empathy among students.
Article PDF