Research Articles

Under the magnifying glass: critical moments in virtual exchange




virtual exchange, critical learning incidents, multimodal reflections


Virtual Exchange (VE) is a form of experiential learning that relies heavily on learning-by-doing and reflection. The present study draws on visual data comprising students’ perceptions of critical learning incidents presented under an imaginary magnifying glass. To complete this project-closing reflective activity, the students had to describe a critical moment that they had experienced during VE and present it in a visual form. Data was collected longitudinally, in three projects (2019, 2020, and 2021) that followed the same pedagogical design and focused on the theme of tourism. The collaborating universities were from three countries: Poland, Finland, and the Netherlands. We used the methods of qualitative content analysis and social semiotic analysis to investigate the students’ reflections. The findings show that the most frequently expressed themes were related to participation in the first meeting, joint production, use of a foreign language, and adaptation to change. The study contributes to a better understanding of the role of multimodal reflection in VE.

Author Biographies

Judit Háhn, University of Jyväskylä

Judit Háhn is a distinguished senior lecturer at the Department of Language and Communication Studies of the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. She teaches courses in linguistics and discourse studies for pre-service teachers of English and language specialists. She is interested in all aspects of discourse and pedagogy in virtual exchange.

Katarzyna Radke, Adam Mickiewicz University

Katarzyna Radke is a senior lecturer of English at the Foreign Language Teaching Center of Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland. She teaches general English and English for specific purposes. Her interests lie in the use of online tools in language teaching and intercultural collaboration through virtual exchange in higher education.

Ivonne Dekker, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht

Ivonne Dekker is a senior lecturer at Creative Business, a bachelor programme at the University of applied Sciences in Utrecht. She teaches Media and Communication related courses with a special interest in Media Psychology and news framing and media and culture. Other interests include virtual exchange in higher education with partners abroad.





Research Articles