N. Saba 'Ayon, S. Whitehead

Rafik Hariri University (LEBANON)
Recently, a lot of research has stressed the importance of developing students’ intercultural communicative competence (ICC) to ensure successful communication with people of diverse cultures and languages and hence survive in this globalizing world. Telecollaboration has been advocated as a useful tool to help students develop their ICC (Schenker, 2012; Elola & Oskoz, 2008; Muller-Hartmann, 2006; Godwin-Jones, 2003, among others). As faculty in the Languages and Humanities Department at a private Lebanese English-speaking university, the researchers strive to provide their students with opportunities that maximize their learning. To this end, one of the researchers is incorporating telecollaboration in her Peace Communication class, which is taught in English. More specifically, the researcher is collaborating with two other university professors in the United States and Jordan who are teaching journalism in their respective universities. Through their telecollaboration with their partners in the United States and Jordan, the participants at our university are likely to learn about other cultures and practice their English as a foreign language (EFL) in a contextualized, genuine environment.

The aim of this study (in progress) is, therefore, to investigate:
(1) the impact of telecollaboration on the participants’ ICC as well as their communication skills, and
(2) the participants’ attitudes towards telecollaboration.

Byram’s model of intercultural competence (1997) serves as the theoretical framework for this study. As the researchers are interested in “a complex, detailed understanding of” the aforementioned issues (Creswell, 2007: 40), they employed a qualitative, interpretive research design. To find in-depth, rich data, the researchers themselves collected data from multiple sources, namely a short-answer question survey, a reflection essay by each participant, participants’ posts on Facebook, participants’ face-to-face, mediated interactions, and a focus group interview. The collected data from different sources are analyzed inductively whereby the researchers “build their patterns, categories, and themes from the ‘bottom-up,’ by organizing the data into increasingly more abstract units of information” (Creswell, 2007: 38). Based on the findings, appropriate conclusions and recommendations will be made to help the participants develop ICC and enhance their telecollaborative experiences.

[1] Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and Assessing Intercultural Communicative Competence. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
[2] Creswell, J. W. (2007), Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design (2nd ed.), US: Sage Publications.
[3] Elola, I. & Oskoz, A. (2008). Blogging: Fostering Intercultural Competence Development in Foreign Language and Study Abroad Contexts. Foreign Language Annals, 43, 3, 454-477.
[4] Godwin-Jones, R. (2003). Emerging Technologies. Blogs and Wikis: Environments for on-line Collaboration. Language Learning and Technology, 7, 2, 12-16.
[5] Muller-Hartmann, A. (2006). Learning How to Teach Intercultural Communicative Competence via Telecollaboration: A Model for Language Teacher Education. In J.A. Belz & S. Thorne (Eds.), Internet-Mediated Intercultural Foreign Language Education. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 63-84.
[6] Schenker, T. (2012). Intercultural Competence and Cultural Learning through Telecollaboration. CALICO Journal, 29, 3, 449-470.