Volume 19 Number 2

The Practices and Challenges of Telecollaboration in Higher Education in Europe
Francesca Helm, University of Padova

Telecollaboration is an area of CALL research and practice which has developed considerably in the last twenty years. Many research studies have been carried out and important findings have been made, but there has not yet been a large scale survey to try and ‘map’ the state of the art in telecollaboration practice. Most studies focus on single telecollaboration projects and look at the project design, learning outcomes and difficulties teachers and researchers have encountered in that particular project. This paper reports on a survey which sought to explore current practices and attitudes towards telecollaboration across European universities and to identify barriers that practitioners encounter. The survey was completed in full by a total of 210 university language teachers in 23 different European countries and 131 students. The picture we found presents a broad spectrum of practices. Despite an overwhelmingly positive attitude towards telecollaboration, findings also provide large-scale confirmation of some of the problems identified in small-scale studies, such as organizational difficulties, lack of time, limited technical support and great uncertainty regarding issues students should address in their exchanges. The paper concludes with some recommendations as to how to meet these challenges and how telecollaboration practice could become mainstreamed in higher education.

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