As part of her Rennes 2 language teacher-training course Professor Christine Evain, in collaboration with Associate Professor Karen De Bruin from the University of Rhode Island in the United States, put into place a novel virtual classroom activity led by teacher-training students. Undertaken in an action-research perspective, the goal of the ongoing project was to improve teaching in an international context while managing the technical and communicational constraints of online classes.
The bulk of the classroom activities were organized around twelve peer teaching sessions between Rennes 2 Teacher-trainees, (Master students seeking to become future French teachers), and Bachelor-level humanities students from the University of Rhode Island. Using the online virtual classroom platform VIA and other multimedia collaborative tools, the trainees produced and moderated pedagogical activities in line with syllabus objectives. The technological tools enabled the pedagogical teams to be able to implement a reflexive feedback system at every stage of their project, which was articulated around helping the trainees to “learn by doing and analyzing their own practice of teaching”, i.e. self-assessment and reflexive feedback conversations. The project was later extended to include a second partner institution with the help of French teacher Audrey Lamou at Saint George's School, also in the United States.
Although it’s a topic that Christine began working on recently, in light of the context of the pandemic and the necessity for online teaching, this work will undoubtedly be very relevant to higher education teaching techniques and tools for some time. She already had an initial experience with peer-teaching and learning experiments with the help of Karen De Bruin in 2018. In 2019, Audrey Lamou also joined in the project. As Christine noted, “we did have the experience of 2 editions of the project prior to the first lockdown. I think the pandemic simply stimulated us to work harder because the whole project became even more meaningful and important to the students”.
With the help of Chris de Marco, from Audencia Business School, they were able to report on the objectives, stages, results, and perspectives of the project, focusing on how reflexive feedback on online teaching influences performance in teacher training. As Christine put it, “His point of view is objective because he's analysing the experiment after it's taken place. Also we both like to try and figure out what the research angle of the article is going to be - in this case: reflexive feedback. Chris likes to say he's an "armchair academic" and I would describe him as someone who is ruthless at questioning the findings of the project until he finds a water-tight research question and methodology”.
The resulting article was submitted to Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, which conferred the authors with their annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the e-Learning & Innovative Pedagogies Research Network. The winning article is selected from the ten highest-ranked articles emerging from the peer review process. As the winning author, Christine was invited to present this work at the Ubiquitous Conference with Elsa Chasseau, Pedagogical Engineer for Rennes 2’s Pedagogical Office, which took place on May 5th. The project has also been recognized as one of the key programs to be developed to comply with the new expectations of the French Minister of Education.
To find out more information on this project, please contact Christine Evain, christine.evain [at] univ-rennes2.fr.
The full article is accessible here.