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Home Journal Index 2022-3

Helping Teachers Help Their Students Participate in Virtual Exchange: The Importance of Teacher Training

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Eric Hagley
Hosei University, Japan


William Green
Sapporo University, Japan


Abstract
This paper reports on evidence-based teaching practice carried out in teacher training within the International Virtual Exchange Project (IVEProject). The IVEProject has involved more than 30,000 students and 600 teachers from 25 countries in Virtual Exchange (VE) since 2015. In the two 2021 exchanges, we conducted research to identify issues teachers face when they participate in this VE, and to identify possible tools and practical help to solve problems teachers have. A further goal was to identify teachers’ cognition and practices associated with students’ successful participation in the exchange. First-time teachers were asked to complete questionnaires which produced both quantitative and qualitative data. Other data came from two participating teachers who wrote a weekly journal as they progressed through the exchange. Finally, we used logs from the website to analyse teachers’ use of the site. Unsurprisingly, the study found that teachers require focused training to facilitate their participation, but the type, amount and style of training varied depending on a number of teacher traits and the environments in which they worked. Many teachers want their students to interact with others around the world but are still not confident in bringing themselves and their students into an international setting. The study identified the issues that the participating teachers had. The paper concludes with a discussion, based on participants’ data, of ways in which organisers can help teachers in future VE to address these issues to improve their own and students’ participation and outcomes.


Keywords
Virtual Exchange, foreign language learning, teacher training, international exchange