As our initial partner has had to pull out due to institutional reasons, we make a new late call for collaborative partners for a project in sociolinguistics and teacher training in Second Life.
As part of the Euroversity network (http://euroversity.ning.com/), the Department of Language studies at Umeå University are looking for a minimum of 12 committed collaborative partners (preferably people with previous experience of Second Life and language teaching) from various universities or other educational institutions around the world in order to participate in a collaborative online project conducted primarily in the virtual world of Second Life. The activities are part of the ASSIS project: https://assis.pbworks.com
The subject of the activities relates to the topic of gender and language in education and is included as an activity under our English teacher-training programme. Our ambition is to expose our students to external contacts with professional experience in order to explore aspects of gender and language in a classroom context (physical and virtual). Providing a culturally mixed forum for such discussions will, in our opinion, bring new insights into these issues and hopefully widen our students’ horizons. In this context it is worth mentioning that many of our students will be working in schools of heterogenic cultural demography in their future professional lives.
Specific activities will be carried out during the autumn 2011. We have planned three such specific activities under the project:
- A group discussion (in groups of four) of a ‘case’, which illustrates different aspects related to language and gender in a classroom situation.
- A group workshop (in the same groups of 4) involving the creation a case based on real life examples and anecdotes, which illustrate/s various issues related to language and gender in an educational context. In the creation of this case we will ask participants to draw on the collective experiences of the all the four group members present.
- An observational study of teacher behaviour related to gender and language, which will go on parallel to the two events above. For this part of the study the participants will be asked to observe the behaviour of our own lecturers/teachers who are assisting them in the collaborations. We have two teachers working in this capacity, one male and one female. The participants will be asked to fill in two online evaluations (one for each teacher) in order to produce a short observational report evaluating potential gendered behaviour of our teachers and in a debriefing meeting at the end of the project we will relate the findings to the theoretical frameworks studied in the course literature.
The collaboration will be conducted online, primarily in the virtual world of Second Life. We will also provide tools for asynchronous written collaborations in the form of a wiki, where each group will have access to their own space.
As experienced SL-users/teachers you will obviously hold a special role in the group discussions but the idea is that the collaboration should be one where all contribute. You do thus not have to feel that you have any special responsibility apart from being a collaborative discussion partner.
Suggested dates for meetings etc are as follows:
6th -16th of September:
Technical and social initiation (https://assis.pbworks.com/w/page/44744583/technical%20and%20social%20initiation): During this period we will provide all participants with the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the tools (Second Life and the wiki). We will have group meetings for this purpose on the 6th of September (13.00-15.00 CET) and on Friday the 16th of September (13.00-15.00 CET) in Second life and we will also contact all who feel they need private one-to-one guidance on an individual basis in the ‘window’ 7-15th of September. We will also provide the participants with contact details of their partner groups and encourage them to meet up and get to know each other in Second Life or using any other tool they see fit (Skype, MSN, e-mail etc). Our ambition is thus that ALL participants should have entered the environment and tested the functionalities prior to the actual workshops. In addition, we hope that the participants also will have had a chance to at least get to know each other superficially prior to the planned events.
20 and 21st of September
Discussions of case: The discussion of a case provided prior to the event via the wiki will probably take about 1-2hrs and will be conducted in groups of 4. Since we are anticipating a total of 12 groups we have booked two days for this event but note that participants will only be committed for one 1-2hour-session. Because of potential time differences etc we cannot at this time specify exact times for the event yet but afternoons CET is a safe bet.
4 and 5th of October
Workshop – creation of case example: The creation of the case example will probably take about 1-2hrs and will be conducted in groups of 4. Since we are anticipating a total of 12 groups we have booked two days for this event but again note that participants will only be committed for one 1-2hour-session. Because of potential time differences etc we cannot at this time specify exact times for the event yet but afternoons CET is a safe bet.
Note that we will also ask our students to summarise their findings from each meeting in a wiki tool. As outside participants not being examined your participation in this activity is of course optional. The observational study on teacher behaviour will be reported using an online questionnaire tool and here we appreciate if all contribute to maximise the reliability of the data.
20th of October
Debriefing: During this meeting we will evaluate the activities together and also reveal the results of the evaluation of our own teachers and discuss these results. The meeting will take place in a face-to-face setting in a lecture hall at Umeå University with online access through U-stream or Adobe Connect.
Please let us know as soon as possible if you are interested in participating.
Mats Deutschmann mats.deutschmann [at] engelska.umu.se
(Euroversity coordinator, Umeå University)