Telecollaborative Storytelling: Reframing English Language Learners' and Pre-service Teachers' Identity, Multimodal Literacy, and Intercultural Competency

Telecollaborative Storytelling: Reframing English Language Learners' and Pre-service Teachers' Identity, Multimodal Literacy, and Intercultural Competency

Andrea Enikő Lypka, Dustin De Felice
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2722-1.ch008
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Telecollaborative multimodal storytelling has evolved into an innovative pedagogic design that fuses information technologies, semiotic repertoires, and modalities with cooperative learning, personal accounts, and academic content. Informed by social constructionism and poststructuralism, this chapter presents a semester-long virtual exchange with language learners and pre-service teachers in two universities and the format of this initiative with a focus on pedagogical suggestions. Not only did this collaboration transcend the classroom, but it provided a supportive environment for multiliteracy, disciplinary knowledge, and cross-cultural competency development and identity negotiation within traditional and virtual learning spaces. Co-authored multimedia ensembles, reflective writing, and teamwork can enable learners to generate meaningful narratives, forge reciprocal partnerships, engender social consciousness, and express themselves creatively across linguistic, cultural, and technology capital.
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To navigate effectively and responsively in superdiverse and technology-saturated environments, in addition to writing, reading, numeracy, disciplinary, discourse, and linguistic knowledge individuals need to master digital literacy, technological, visual, and information literacies and cross-cultural communicative competencies (Alcantud-Díaz, 2016; Anderson & Macleroy, 2017; New London Group, 1996; Priego & Liaw, 2017; Vinogradova, Linville, & Bickel, 2011). Instructional techniques intertwined with digital technology (e.g., mobile devices, digital cameras, video streaming, and application software, etc.), local and global perspectives, semiotic modalities (e.g., verbal, visual, gestural, musical, and hypertextual modalities that can include images, video clips, sounds, emojis, animations, etc.), and out-of-school digital literacy practices (e.g., social networking, gaming, and vlogging, etc.) blur geographic, political, demographic, linguistic, disciplinary, cultural, community, and digital sites. By bridging the home, community, and academic worlds, these methods reframe education as a dynamic and fluid identity performance in a dynamic and global discourse community.

In multilingual and multicultural contexts, participatory multimodal models of pedagogy contest face-to-face, lecture-based, monolingual, and monocultural instruction that has pervaded the Western education, advocating for student-driven instruction and literacy skills needed for successful global communication, linguistic and cultural diversity, and equitable academic prospects (Castañeda, Shen, & Claros-Berlioz, 2018; Vasudevan, Schultz, & Bateman, 2010). Telecollaboration (Coelho, Galante, & Pires, 2016; De Felice & Ortiz Alcocer, 2011), narrative writing, digital storytelling (DS) (Castañeda, 2013a; Vasudevan et al., 2010; Vinogradova, 2007), mobile learning, community-based digital photography (Lypka, 2019), and filmmaking (Lypka, 2018) attend to individuals’ nonlinear, simultaneous communication, informal knowledge systems, agency, identities, interests, literacy practices, and subjective realities to produce knowledge. Infusing digital literacy skills in foreign and second language (L2) classrooms can stimulate multimodal literacy alongside the development of L2 proficiency, intercultural competence, and interconnectedness. Furthermore, these collaborative digital technology methods can amplify emotions and insights that might not emerge in traditional learning zones (Johnson & Kendrick, 2016; Lindholm & Mednick Myles, 2019).

As research into language teaching and learning indicates, cultivating identity expressions necessary for digital cross-cultural engagement requires time investment, resources, and scaffolding (Alcantud-Díaz, 2016; De Felice & Lypka, 2013; Santos Green, 2013; Lin, Thang, Jaafar, & Zabidi, 2013; Lypka, 2019; Miller, Hafner, & Fun, 2012; Raven & O’Donnell, 2010). Enhancing these skills can be problematic for language learners who struggle to negotiate their own cultural values with the academic expectations in the host country and the language skills and literacies needed to complete their programs (Vasudevan et al., 2010; Vinogradova et al., 2011). Deeper insights into students’ educational journeys, cultural patterns, literacies, and learning processes can prepare practitioners to inquire into asset-based pedagogies, such as telecollaborative DS (Priego & Liaw, 2017), to further understanding of diverse learning needs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Poststructuralism: A theory that is focused on helping individuals to better understand or interpret the social environment by questioning established meaning.

Digital Storytelling (DS): Digital literacy projects that integrate technological tools and multimodal texts to connect emic accounts, experiential understanding, and reflection with academic content in a short movie or video project.

Second language (L2) Development: Learning an additional language or languages beyond the initial language(s) can include learning to speak, listen, read, write, as well as fostering competency in culture, pragmatics, and usage. Much of this process occurs in stages, and it is often a messy, challenging process.

Multimodal Communicative Competence: The ability to use computer-mediated multimodal communication (e.g., visual, spatial, aural dimensions).

Telecollaboration: A virtual partnership between learning communities in different geographical locations to address pedagogical goals.

Intercultural Communicative Competence: The ability of individuals to draw on sociocultural awareness, pragmatics, and verbal and nonverbal communication capital to contextualize intended meanings and effectively interact with individuals across social networks, and cultural, linguistic, and geographical boundaries.

Constructionism: This theoretical orientation is concerned with learners constructing mental models to make sense of the world around them.

Digital Multiliteracies: Diverse modes of communication found in digital communities of practice (e.g., the cellular telephones, internet, multimedia devices, etc.).

Identity: An ongoing social sense-making process, sometimes a struggle, to gain membership in various groups, by employing diverse semiotic repertoires, such as verbal, written, visual, or a combination of modes.

English for Academic Purposes (EAP): Courses for language learners who wish to study in academic contexts where English is used as a medium of instruction.

Multimodal Literacy: Communication that occurs through two or more modes of meaning that can include text, video, and images.

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