Question 20

20. How, if at all, did you use any of these tools to provide venues for students to engage on an informal level?


Informal space was created for groups to meet in Blackboard Collaborate / ULPGC : During our 2 training sessions we engaged our students to use the tool that best matched their needs and usual practices in order to connect with their US classmates.

Students could engage in the blogs, and some did. Blog enrollment issues hampered this activity, in Kelli’s opinion./ MJU students can meet their group members at any time they decided freely and engage in the blogs too.

They were encouraged to use Facebook to post pictures and thoughts about their environments. Faculty also participated in this activity.

ANGEL-we created team discussion boards for each of the five teams consisting of 4-5 students (red, blue, purple, green yellow, indigo).  Each faculty member and graduate student was assigned to a color team to act as a mentor.

Email and Skype in assigned across countries  teams were encouraged although students were not very active here.

E-mail ended up being an effective tool for some students to engage informally. We didn’t create the venue; they made use of it themselves.

I don’t think Blackboard was useful in an informal sense during this course. Part of that is the technology itself. (Students noted, for example, that they might have gotten to know each other better if their posts were connected with a profile picture--allowing students to put faces with names.) Part of that was that we could have used it in different ways. (For example, I think we could try hosting an additional discussion board for general discussion instead of just the ones on each case study which lended themselves to formal responses to specific assignments.) This was one area (informal contacts) where the course did not succeed as hoped. / Yes, there was, indeed, very little personal contact between the students. One of the reasons for this was the time difference. When they tried to engage via skype while preparing their common presentations it turned out an uphill task, as they could not find time when they could connect. Facebook could be a good idea.

I was thinking to use facebook before starting this course, but I heard negative comments on that in a conference such as Japanese students are not used to using facebook, and it is informal venue and not suitable for language learning, so I gave up this time. Kagoshima students are not used to using D2L, so D2L was used for showing interview task sheet and what we did in our class before Kagoshima university's semester began. The D2L worked very effectively on an informal level on the SJSU side such as when we had discussions on our introductory presentation to Kagoshima students, and when commenting one another on our final presentations.

Information communication

KGU and SJSU students generally worked independently after 3 weeks of in-class assistance logging in and actively posting in class.

Lore was chosen because of its potential for informal student interaction. The center piece of Lore is the Discussion where students can leave comments, resources, and questions for the class. There was also a way to chat with individual students from any institution at anytime.

One of the reasons we used Facebook was to allow students to engage on an informal level and to be certain that the students could maintain their connections even after completion of the course.

See above.

The discussion forum in Blackboard provided a space for students to share images from their daily lives.  In general we found it was less helpful at engaging at informal levels.

The impression was that personal interaction outside of the class project occurred naturally during student Skype sessions and Discussion Board postings. Certain personal details often came up when in the process of comparing ideas (personal tastes and preferences and personality quirks).

The online “Cafe Bar” assignments were designed for “low-stakes writing” (a.k.a. informal online interaction).

The student blogs throughout the semester are available at:   A CCU student, James Johnson, managed this site and created the 6 small groups for the class.  Another student, James Clark, from USFQ helped students in Ecuador navigate the blog and communicated to the professors when there were technology issues. /  Located in these blogs are the collaborative contracts, blogs, and student wikis.

They  were necessary parts of our experience, as synchronous aspects of the project were challenged by infrastructure issues such as rolling blackouts and unreliable internet capabilities.  Through the use of asynchronous , students could engage with one and other on their own time schedule and when the technology cooperated accordingly.  Furthermore, the age and variability of student circumstance (full-time, part-time, online, face-to-face, etc.) was a challenge that could easily be overcome through the technology-mediated, asynchronous design of the program.

They used Skype, Facetime, Google Hangout etc. as well as email and blogs

We created a discussion forum that was not intended for academic discussion.  We entitled it the UTEP-VU Forum.  In this forum the students could discuss their weekend events, their jobs, entertainment venues, hobbies, music, etc.  It often turned itno a vibrant site where our students began sharing videos of themselves and their passions.  For example there were some very good photographers who shared amazing photos, and some students who danced competitively and shared videos of their dance competitions.  It often became a venue for introducing themselves to one another in a more relaxed environment. / The information architecture of the site was planned to provide informal and formal forums. As Irma has noted, students were most willing to share their personal interests and activities. Additionally, one particular assessment task was aimed at the sharing of individual family histories.

We did not track the frequency of students’. However, it was evident from their class-to-class interaction that they had developed friendships. Thus, our assumption is that social networking sites or other media of choice were regularly used by them to informally communicate.

We encouraged students to connect on the Discussion Board beyond the required two postings.  Since the course is currently ongoing, the only active board is the Google Earth tour.  With 24 student from both institutions, the total number of postings as of today is 45, so obviously not a lot of interaction is occurring beyond the requirements.  / The Facebook page was suggested by the UDLAP students as a way of better connecting, and was set up by them.  There were no stated requirements, but activity was brisk with students friending each other, forming groups for the collaborative research paper, and arranging exchanges of packages of artifacts via the paqueterias exercise from each country to each other.