Un autre monde/Eine andere Welt
Winner of the MEDEA User-Generated Award 2014
In the foreign languages classroom active communication skills are limited because they are developed in an artificial classroom situation. Students should not only learn a language from a linguistic point of view but also from a cultural point of view.
This is how foreign languages teachers Christophe Jaeglin (Collège Frédéric Hartmann, Munster, France and Stephanie Wössner (Albeck Gymnasium, Sulz am Neckar, Germany) came up with the idea of a virtual exchange.
A virtual exchange project is, in general, based on learning a language by interacting with native speakers online. The advantage of a virtual exchange versus an actual exchange is that it is not limited to one or two weeks of interaction but can be conducted over an extended period of time, with or without meeting at a certain point.
The frame for the project was a "global simulation scheme". The students were required to create their own identities, avatars, for the project, with the French students becoming German, Austrian or Swiss, and the German students becoming French nationals. During this project, which by nature was based on an active learning approach, they interacted by impersonating their respective identities. The teachers also took on new identities for the project.
What the judges said
"This project is a perfect tool to increase both the students' language skills as well as their media literacy and project based learning. It is a very interactive and flexible tool using many different media types. Students are encouraged to use it on their own and not necessarily only during class which motivates them even more to improve their language skills."
Stephanie Wössner about the creation of "Un autre monde/Eine andere Welt"
"As is common for a simulation scheme, we came up with a situation in which the students would later interact. This frame was a fictitious European project requiring students from different countries to apply for a stay in the "European Youth Village" in Brussels, where they would live together in groups with roommates from both countries. By living and working together on intercultural projects they would learn about each other's culture.
The Second Life avatars of the teachers appeared at key moments, for example at the beginning of the project to introduce the concept, before activities to give assignments of tasks etc. Watching these videos was not only an exercise in listening comprehension (there were subtitles in both languages) but also constituted a kind of interaction with the project managers, which made it possible for the students to experience the project as if it was authentic.
The listening comprehension was enhanced by using EduCanon to put questions in the videos and by using BlendSpace to give step-by-step-instructions for weaker students. While working on the project, students used web 2.0 tools for the creation of avatars, Audioboo, Padlet, TitanPad, ToonDoo, MyBrainshark, Prezi and Glogster. They also used GoogleDrive/OwnCloud for exchanging files, Edmodo as a social network/communication platform, PowerPoint and Word. The results of their work were shared on a self-hosted Wordpress website by the teachers. Videos were made with MyBrainshark and then uploaded to YouTube for embedding purposes. Tutorials were made using Camtasia and embedded though YouTube as well.
In our case, the target students were high school students (8th & 9th graders) between 13 and 16 with German or French languages. The concept is ideal for learning foreign languages due to the (inter)active learning approach, however, it is not limited to teenagers or particular languages but could be used for learners of any age and language."
About Stephanie Wössner
Stephanie Wössner graduated from university with a teaching degree in English and French as foreign languages in 2008. While getting her teaching degree, she also worked towards earning a bachelor's degree in Japanese Studies with a minor in American Studies, and during her studies she spent about two years in different countries (USA, France, Japan).
She usually teaches grades 7 through 12. ICT is an integral part of her teaching, and her students can do lots of projects in her classes. Stephanie also dedicates quite some time to student exchanges, both virtual and real, usually involving digital media projects.
Besides teaching full-time, Stephanie is also an edublogger, webmaster of several websites, member of the board of CyberLangues, a French association for ICT and language teaching, and she is working on a PhD in Asian American Studies. You can find Stephanie's website here.
During the MEDEA Awards Ceremony that took place during the Media & Learning Conference, “Un autre monde/Eine andere Welt” was announced as the Winner of the MEDEA User-Generated Award 2014, Stephanie Wössner received the MEDEA Statuette.