Integrating New Online Tools to Enhance Cross-Cultural Communication in an International Educational Telecommunication Project “Global Understanding”
This paper explores the technical features and didactic characteristics of two online tools (VoiceThread and TodaysMeet) which have been found to be effective for developing the communication and collaboration skills of students as well as promoting their engagement outside of the language classroom. To meet these goals, the developers have created both of these tools as cloud applications. In other words, there is no software to install as they work within any modern updated web browser and on almost any Internet connection. The main focus of this article is on the experience of implementing these online tools in a blended language course: “Information Technologies in Cross-Cultural Communication” which is based on a cross-cultural program named “Global Understanding”. A number of VoiceThread practical activities with the objective of developing the abovementioned skills were used in the classroom and are discussed in this article as well. Conclusions drawn from this research indicate that VoiceThread activities encourage language learners to develop listening comprehension, speaking skills, and to enrich their knowledge of the subject with the help of their peers' previous experience. TodaysMeet chatrooms provide a place to discuss conversation questions during online meetings and to negotiate collaborative projects (topics and content) asynchronously.
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