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Teacher Guidelines for Cross-National Virtual Communities in Primary Education
ARTICLE

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Journal of Computer Assisted Learning Volume 24, Number 1, ISSN 1365-2729 Publisher: Wiley

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to provide guidelines for teachers to carry out cross-national educational projects in schools through the introduction of virtual environments as a means of reshaping classroom-based activities. The theoretical foundations of the study are rooted in computer supported collaborative learning and the community of learners model. The case of Euroland is discussed as a successful example of mixing a face-to-face community with a larger community, which populates a virtual space. The virtual space used in this project features two pieces of software--a discussion forum and a three-dimensional virtual world--each of which are considered to be complementary. Students (ranging from 9 to 14 years old) from seven schools located in two European countries (Italy and The Netherlands) participated in the project. The development of Euroland took place across three temporal phases. These are described through four indicators, considered as relevant practices that are easily observed. The first indicator relates to the use of tools embedded within the virtual environments, very exploratory in the first phase, becoming more and more integrated in the phases that follow. The second indicator relates to the quality of interaction with partners at a distance, initially based on a simple representation and awareness of them, ultimately becoming more precise and detailed. The third indicator relates to the development of a sense of belonging to a community, initially limited to the in-the-classroom community and then progressively extended to the virtual community as indicated by the increased amount of time devoted to navigation and online activities and an increased use in quoting instances of activities in online life. The final indicator refers more specifically to the range of educational strategies' teachers should use in such contexts. As results of the analysis of how the indicators are set during each phase, teacher' guidelines are established. Teacher guidelines are given by differentiating between in-classroom and online contexts with the aim of obtaining the best possible results in accomplishing a project-like Euroland.

Citation

Ligorio, M.B. & Van der Meijden, H. (2008). Teacher Guidelines for Cross-National Virtual Communities in Primary Education. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 24(1), 11-25. Wiley. Retrieved June 5, 2020 from .

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