European Journal of Language Policy

Virtual exchange for (critical) digital literacy skills development

European Journal of Language Policy (2019), 11, (2), 187–210.


This article examines the ways in which transcultural and digital literacy skills may be enhanced by telecollaboration, a model of virtual exchange (VE). After an overview of the literature on telecollaboration in language teacher education with a focus on digital literacy, it considers the potential of critical digital literacy development through VE. In particular, it argues for the relevance of critical digital literacy in relation to the characteristics of the twenty-first-century graduate, and the potential of the telecollaborative model of VE to develop skills to this effect in language teachers and subsequently their students. The EVALUATE project is presented, including its rationale and the methods used for data gathering and analysis, followed by the presentation and discussion of the main project findings in terms of the participants’ digital pedagogical competence development and evidence of emerging critical digital literacy. Finally, it offers some concluding remarks and points at gaps that remain to be addressed, if we want to draw maximum benefit from VE for promoting a critical and informed approach to the use of technologies first in language teachers and teacher trainees and thereafter also in their students.

Cet article examine comment la télécollaboration, un modèle d’échange virtuel (EV), peut améliorer les compétences en littératie transculturelle et numérique. Après un survol de la littérature sur la télécollaboration dans la formation des enseignants de langues en mettant l’accent sur l’alphabétisation numérique, il examine le potentiel de développement des compétences essentielles en alphabétisation numérique par le biais de l’EV. En particulier, il plaide en faveur de la pertinence des connaissances numériques critiques par rapport aux caractéristiques des diplômés du XXIe siècle et du potentiel du modèle télécollaboratif de l’enseignement supérieur à développer des compétences à cet effet chez les enseignants de langues, puis chez leurs étudiants. Le projet EVALUATE est présenté, y compris sa raison d’être et les méthodes utilisées pour la collecte et l’analyse de données, suivi de la présentation et de la discussion des principales conclusions du projet en termes de développement des compétences pédagogiques numériques des participants et de preuves de la culture numérique critique émergente. Enfin, il propose quelques conclusions et met en exergue les lacunes qui restent à combler si nous voulons tirer le meilleur parti possible de l’EV pour promouvoir une approche critique et éclairée de l’utilisation des technologies d’abord par les enseignants de langues et les enseignants en formation, puis à l’avenir, par leurs étudiants.

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Author details

Hauck, Mirjam