Networked Classrooms and Networked Minds: Language Teaching in a Brave New World

  • Melinda Dooly
Part of the International Perspectives on English Language Teaching book series (INPELT)


There are daily reminders of how our lives are interconnected through globalisation. One is continuously reminded that we are citizens of a ‘global society’, ‘a global village’, or ‘global communities’; terms which, despite their seeming paradox, are widely accepted as the status quo of much of humanity today. Even in geographical regions with the lowest amount of Internet population penetration (e.g. Africa has 15.6 per cent; Asia 27.5 per cent), access and use are growing at fast rates (3,606.7 per cent in Africa and 841.9 per cent in Asia in the last decade; see De Argaez 2013). Almost half the population of the Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean are Internet users (40.2 per cent and 42.9 per cent respectively) while in Europe, North America, Oceania, and Australia more than half of the population access the Internet daily (63.2 per cent, 78.6 per cent, and 67.6 per cent). Even in countries with lower Internet penetration, there is substantial undocumented impact since indirect access, through cybercafés and Internet kiosks, is quite frequent, as well as ‘informal’ means to access through other parties (Oyelaran-Oyeyinka and Nyaki Adeya 2002).


Language Learning Target Language Language Teaching Voice Over Internet Protocol Healthy Habit 
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  1. 1.
    Several definitions of telecollaboration have been proposed. According to Helm et al. (2012), telecollaboration, also known as Online Intercultural Exchange (OIE), involves using online communication tools to engage classes of foreign language (FL) learners in online communication and collaboration with partner classes in distant locations. Dooly (2008) argues that in the educational arena, the focus should be on ‘collaboration’ at a distance (the prefix tele-signifies distance) and that telecollaboration need not be limited to language learning, indeed, crossdisciplinary learning is optimised in this type of approach.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The children participating in the project were not ‘in-world’ themselves; they were sharing one avatar that belonged to the researcher and were only allowed inside the virtual gallery so there was no potential for them to go to other areas in Second Life that might have been inappropriate for them. Parental permission was given before beginning the project.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
  4. 4.
    All names of the participants have been changed to protect their identity. A blanket permission form was signed by the school and parents for the use of data and images.Google Scholar
  5. 5..
    Integrating Telecollaborative Networks into University Foreign Language Education. 517622-LLP-1-2011-1-ES-ERASMUS-ESMO.

Further reading

  1. Debski, R. (2006). Project-Based Language Teaching with Technology. Sydney: National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research, Macquarie University.Google Scholar
  2. This book provides a very thorough overview of the different aspects of designing and implementing project-oriented language learning processes in formal environments, such as the EFL classroom. Each chapter covers different pedagogical aspects, including assessment–which is an aspect of project-based language learning that receives less focus in research and discussion.Google Scholar
  3. National Research Council (2000). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School: Expanded Edition. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  4. While this book is not focused on language teaching and learning, or about project-based language learning, it does discuss how technology can be used to advance learning by creating curricula based on real-world problems. It describes how teachers can provide the necessary scaffolding and access to tools that enhance learning, as well as how to expand the process to include local and global communities such as teachers, other students, parents, practising scientists, and other experts in targeted curricular areas.Google Scholar
  5. Rothenberg, P. S. (2006). Beyond Borders: Thinking Critically About Global Issues. New York: Worth Publishers.Google Scholar
  6. Working global themes through projects can help students understand how events in one part of the world may affect other persons and places across the globe. Through 82 different articles and essays written by informed scholars, activists and policymakers, this book helps students think critically about global issues, such as conflicts, trade, issues of discrimination, human rights, inequality, and social change. Although it is not a book aimed at primary-education level (e.g. the project in this chapter), teachers of young learners can become more knowledgeable about the connections between local and global and then find ways to adapt some of the themes for younger pupils.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Melinda Dooly 2015

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  • Melinda Dooly

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