‘Free rein’ to learn about language, culture & technology: a multimodal digital text exchange project between school students in Australia and Japan
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As part of an Australia-Japan Foundation project, school students in Australia and Japan created and exchanged multimodal digital texts (MDTs) in order to learn language through authentic communicative practice, raise intercultural capability, and develop 21st century skills and digital literacies. Analysis of teacher and student interview and focus group data using the 4-domain SPeCT (Structures, Practices, Capabilities, and Technologies) model derived from earlier cross-cultural multimodal digital text exchange research revealed that, notwithstanding certain challenges relating to Structures, Capabilities, and Technologies, teachers and students were overwhelmingly positive about the project, whose relatively free nature was seen as fostering learning. The perceived benefits were largely in the domains of Practices and Capabilities: in the former, these related to choice and autonomy, personalisation and inclusivity, and collaboration and peer learning; in the latter, they related to practising language, learning about one’s own and others’ cultures, and developing 21st century skills and digital literacies. This suggests that within the wider field of telecollaboration and COIL (collaborative online international learning), there is merit in young learners being given some ‘free rein’, or autonomy, in creating and exchanging MDTs.
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