Research Articles

The value of mediation for task design and implementation in a US-China virtual exchange




virtual exchange, telecollaboration, teacher education, task design, mediation, localization


The use of Virtual Exchange (VE) to connect Student Teachers (STs) with learners as part of their preparation is an area of growing interest (e.g. Adnan, 2017; Arnold, Ducate, Lomicka, & Lord, 2005; Dooly & Sadler, 2013; Üzüm, Akayoğlu, & Yazan, 2020). There has also been growing interest in issues of task design in VE (Arnold et al., 2005; Dooly & Sadler, 2013; Hampel, 2006, 2010; Hauck, 2010; Kurek & Müller-Hartmann, 2017; O’Dowd & Ware, 2009). This study involved US-based Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) STs designing tasks for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) learners in China through the mediation of the classroom teacher in China. We explore the following questions: What is the structure of the mediation that took place during three task stages (design, implementation, and evaluation)? What is mediated by the classroom teacher in the process of task design and implementation in this VE? What factors in the design process influence the successful implementation of tasks? Data were collected from email and Google Groups posts by participants. Data analysis, supported by information from participant observer emails and instructor notes, focused on the development of teams’ tasks and feedback. Results showed three major areas of mediation by the EFL teacher: socio-institutional contexts (implementation schedule, access to technology, cultures-of-use), differences in learning purpose (genre, task selection and elements, student interests), and gaps in language proficiency. Revisions to tasks in these areas helped to localize tasks to better meet curricular demands and student interests. Timely mediation was essential to successful task completion. Implications for further research on task design in VE are discussed.





Research Articles