Keynote speaker presentation titles and abstracts
Keynote title - Virtual Exchange: Connecting Youth Through the Pandemic and Beyond
The ongoing pandemic has upended life for millions of youth around the world. While many forms of global learning have been disrupted during this time, virtual exchange has provided an engaging opportunity for learning to continue – giving hundreds of thousands of young people the opportunity to connect with someone from a different background during this time of physical distance and to take-part in meaningful dialogue about the complexities of the world. Virtual exchange has allowed students to connect without a passport and a plane ticket.
This keynote will share perspectives on the role of virtual exchange in classroom and campus internationalization efforts, as well as observations and lessons learned by the Stevens Initiative team from programs conducting virtual exchange throughout the pandemic. Additionally, the speaker will share results from some of the Stevens Initiative’s key recent publications outlining impact on learning as well as broader observations and trends in the broader field. In an age of increasing polarization, nationalism, and inequality, virtual exchange can be an innovative intervention that builds understanding where there is division, provides access and opportunity for many who are excluded, and builds important mindsets and skills to empower young people to thrive in an increasingly diverse and complex world.
Reflecting on the Last Decade of Telecollaboration and E-tandem Research: What Can We Learn from and Contribute to the More Recent Models of Virtual Exchange?
It has been five years since the publication of the scoping review (Akiyama & Cunningham, 2018 in CALICO Journal) for which we synthesized practices of “telecollaboration” projects that took place between 1996–2016 which utilized synchronous computer-mediated communication (SCMC) tools. In just the five years, the world has changed dramatically and so have the objectives, practices, and research of Virtual Exchange (VE). This thus seems like a good time to reflect on the past decade of research in the field and posit ways to go forward. In this talk, I will first review the last decade of research on “telecollaboration” and “eTandem,” the two major models of virtual exchange that have been in use in foreign language education (O’Dowd, 2020), so as to identify some of the limitations of the bilingual-bicultural models. I will then share with you my research on video-mediated eTandem (or dual language VE) projects between Japan and the U.S. from which I gleaned various insights as a practitioner and researcher. Specifically, I will introduce two discourse analysis studies that demonstrate the challenges my students and I as a practitioner and researcher faced. The first study addresses the role of critical incidents for intercultural learning (in this study, a student’s coming out), problematizes heteronormative ideology that may be prevalent in the designing stage of VE projects, and suggests future directions for social justice research. The second study addresses the role of students’ digital literacy and the impact of multimodal practices on relationship building and discusses the implications for language and cultural learning. I will conclude this talk by exploring ways the two major models can learn from and contribute to the more recent models of VE.