Challenging but Rewarding Aspects of Telecollaboration: The Case of Virtual Israeli-Polish (VIP) Project

Sabina Nowak
Aleksandra Rążewska


Starting from the premise that implementing telecollaboration can be a challenging enterprise, it is assumed that such virtual exchanges bring positive outcomes. Despite rich body of research on telecollaboration, few studies to date have explored group dynamics in the context of online exchange. The current research examined an Israeli-Polish (N = 100) telecollaborative intercultural experience. The Israeli participants were students from a BEd program in informal education and Polish students from a BA program in translation. The
main purpose of the telecollaborative project was to develop English linguistic skills and intercultural communicative competence (Byram, 1997) of the students. However, the present study aimed to investigate how the group dynamics influenced the telecollaboration process and the project outcomes. The students engaged in the exchange of asynchronous video recordings (Vlogs), collaborative synchronous meetings on Zoom, and completed an on-line questionnaire. This paper outlines some of the challenges related to the international telecollaboration, including technological and institutional difficulties, context-specific demands, and some individual differences of the participants. Through “thematic analysis” (TA) (Braun & Clarke, 2012) the authors of the paper explored levels of “failed communication” (O’Dowd & Ritter, 2006) and how they impacted the ongoing development of the collaboration both technically and in terms of content and development of interaction skills to uncover certain themes that referred to learners’ and instructors’ challenges. The study concludes with pedagogical implications for more effective implementation of telecollaboration in higher education.


telecollaboration; group dynamics; vlogging; reticence

Amengual-Pizarro, M. (2018). Foreign language classroom anxiety among English for Specific Purposes (ESP) students. International Journal of English Studies, 18(2), 145–159.

Akiyama, Y. (2017). Vicious vs. virtuous cycles of turn negotiation in American-Japanese telecollaboration: Is silence a virtue? Language and Intercultural Communication, 17(2), 190–209.

Altunel, I. (2021). Insights into EFL learners’ willingness to communicate in online English classes during the Covid-19 pandemic: A case study from Turkey. Language and Technology, 3(1), 13–20.

Antoniadou, V. (2011). Using Activity Theory to understand the contradictions in an online transatlantic collaboration between student-teachers of English as a foreign language ReCALL, 23(3), 233–251.

Beatty, K. (2010). Teaching and researching computer-assisted language learning (2nd ed.). Pearson Education Limited.

Belz, J. A. (2002). Social dimensions of telecollaborative foreign language study. Language Learning & Technology, 6(1), 60–81.

Boss, S., & Krauss, J. (2007). Reinventing project-based learning. Your field guide to real-world projects in the digital age. International Society for Technology in Education.

Buss, A. B. (1980). Self-consciousness and social anxiety. Freeman.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2012). Thematic analysis. In H. Cooper (Ed.), APA handbook of research methods in psychology. Research designs. Vol. 2 (pp. 57–71). The American Psychological Association.

Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Multilingual Matters.

Chun, D., & Turula, A. (2015). Cognitive and social presence in task-based telecollaboration [Conference session]. In J. Colpaert, A. Aerts, M. Oberhofer, & G. C. Plana (Eds.), Task Design & CALL. Proceedings. Universiteit Antwerpen.

Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2018). Research methods in education (8th ed.). Routledge.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (5th ed.). SAGE Publications, Inc.

Crozier, W. R. (1997). Individual learners: Personality differences in education. Routledge.

Crozier, W. R. (2005). Shyness and students’ perceptions of seminars. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 4(1), 27–34.

Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependence and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49, 22–51.

Dooly, M. (2010). Teacher 2.0. In S. Guth & F. Helm (Eds.), Telecollaboration 2.0. language literacies and intercultural learning in the 21st century (pp. 277–304). Peter Lang.

Dooly, M. (2017). Telecollaboration. In C. C. Chapelle & S. Sauro (Eds.), The handbook of technology and second language teaching and learning (pp. 169–183). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Dörnyei, Z., & Murphey, T. (2003). Group dynamics in the language classroom. Cambridge University Press.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2011). Teaching and researching motivation (2nd ed.). Pearson Education Limited.

Forsyth, D. R. (2019). Group dynamics (7th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Fuchs, C. (2016). “Are you able to access this website at all?”—Team negotiations and micro-level challenges in telecollaboration. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 29(7), 1152–1168.

Furstenberg, G., Levet, S., English, K., & Maillet, K. (2001). Giving a voice to the silent culture of language: The CULTURA project. Language Learning & Technology, 5(1), 55–102.

Gabryś-Barker, D. (2012). Reflectivity in pre-service teacher education. A survey of theory and practice. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego.

Gillies, R., & Boyle, M. (2010). Teachers’ reflections on cooperative learning: Issues of implementation. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 933–940.

Godwin-Jones, R. (2019). Telecollaboration as an approach to developing intercultural communication competence. Language Learning & Technology, 23(3), 8–28.

Godwin-Jones, R. (2020). Building the porous classroom: An expanded model for blended language learning. Language Learning & Technology, 24(3), 1–18.

Guichon, N., & Hauck, M. (2011). Teacher education research in CALL and CMC: More in Demand than Ever. ReCALL, 23(3), 187–199.

Guth, S., & Helm, F. (2010). Telecollaboration 2.0. Language literacies and intercultural learning in the 21st century. Peter Lang.

Guth, S., & Helm, F. (2012). Developing multiliteracies in ELT through telecollaboration. ELT Journal, 66(1), 42–51.

Guth, S., & Thomas, M. (2010). Telecollaboration with web 2.0 tools. In S. Guth & F. Helm, (Eds.), Telecollaboration 2.0. Language, literacies, and intercultural learning in the 21st century (pp. 39–68). Peter Lang.

Harmer, J. (2015). The practice of English Language Teaching (5th ed.). Pearson.

Hartwell, M., & Zou, B. (2013). A Chinese-French case study of English language learning via Wikispaces, Animoto and Skype [Conference session]. In I. Bradley & S. Thouesny (Eds.), 20 Years of EUROCALL: Learning from the past, looking to the future. Evora, Portugal (pp. 106–111). EUROCALL.

Hauck, M., & Warnecke, S. (2013). Materials design in CALL: Social presence in online environments. In M. Thomas, R. Hayo, & M. Warschauer, Contemporary computer-assisted language learning (pp. 95–115). Bloomsbury.

Helm, F. (2015). The practises and challenges of Telecollaboration in higher education in Europe. Language Learning and Technology, 19(2), 197–217.

Helm, F., & Guth, S. (2010). The Multifarious Goals of Telecollaboration 2.0. Theoretical and Practical Implications. In S. Guth & F. Helm (Eds.), Telecollaboration 2.0. language literacies and intercultural learning in the 21st century (pp. 69–106). Peter Lang.

Jauregi, K., & Bañados E. (2010). An international video-web communication project between Chile and The Netherlands. In S. Guth & F. Helm (Eds.), Telecollaboration 2.0 language, literacies, and intercultural learning in the 21sth century (pp. 427–436). Peter Lang.

Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (2008). Cooperation and the use of technology. In J. M. Spector, M. D. Merrill, J. van Mreeriënboer, & M. P. Driscoll (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 401–423). Taylor & Francis.

Jolliffe, W. (2007). Cooperative learning in the classroom. Putting it into practice. Paul Chapman Publishing.

Kawulich, B. B. (2005). Participant observation as a data collection method. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 6(2), article 43.

King, J. E. (2013). Silence in the second language classroom of Japanese universities. Applied Linguistics, 34(3), 325–434.

Kohn, K., & Hoffstaedter, P. (2017). Learner agency and non-native speaker identity in pedagogical lingua franca conversations: Insights from intercultural telecollaboration in foreign language education. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 30(1), 1–17.

Kramsch, C. (2014). Teaching foreign languages in an era of globalisation. Introduction. The Modern Language Journal, 98(1), 296–311.

Krauss, J., & Boss, S. (2013). Thinking through project-based learning. Guiding deeper inquiry. Corwin.

Lamy, M.-N., & Goodfellow, R. (2010). Telecollaboration and learning 2.0. In S. Guth & F. Helm (Eds.), Telecollaboration 2.0. language literacies and intercultural learning in the 21st century. Peter Lang.

Lan, Y. J. (2020). Immersion, interaction, and experience-oriented learning: Bringing virtual reality into FL learning. Language Learning & Technology, 24(1), 1–15.

Larsen-Freeman, D., & Anderson, M. (2011). Techniques and principles in language teaching (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.

Le, H., Janssen, J., & Wubbels, T. (2018). Collaborative learning practices: Teacher and student perceived obstacles to effective student collaboration. Cambridge Journal of Education, 48(1), 103–122.

Leavy, P. (2017). Research design. Quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, arts-based, and community-based participatory research approaches. The Guilford Press.

Lee, J. S., & Lee, K. (2020). Affective factors, virtual intercultural experiences, and L2 willingness to communicate in in-class, out-of-class, and digital settings. Language Teaching Research, 24(6), 813–833.

Luchikhina, L., & Elfimova N. (2019). Telecollaborative project as a method of intercultural communicative competence development in a non-linguistic university (pp. 472–476). Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research. Vol. 333. Atlanta Press.

MacIntyre, P. D., Dörnyei, Z., Clement, R., & Noels, K. A. (1998). Conceptualizing willingness to communicate in a L2: A situational model of L2 confidence and affiliation. The Modern Language Journal, 82(4), 545–562.

Mandasari, B., & Aminatun, D. (2020). Improving students’ speaking performance through vlog. English Educational Journal of English Teaching and Research, 5(2), 136–142.

Mezirow, J. (2012). Learning to think like an adult. Core concepts of transformation theory. In E. W. Taylor & P. Cranton (Eds.), The handbook of transformative learning. Theory, research, and practice. Jossey-Bass.

Nokes-Malach, T., Zepeda, C., Richey, J., & Gadgil, S. (2019). Collaborative learning: The benefits and costs. In J. Dunlosky & K. Rawson (Eds.), The cognitive handbook of cognition and education. Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology (pp. 500–527). Cambridge University Press.

O’Dowd, R. (2012). Intercultural communicative competence through telecollaboration. In J. Jackson (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of language and intercultural communication (pp. 340–356). Routledge.

O’Dowd, R. (2015). Supporting in-service language educators in learning to telecollaborate. Language Learning & Technology, 19(1), 64–83.

O’Dowd, R. (2016). Emerging trends and new directions in telecollaborative learning. CALICO Journal, 33(3), 291–310.

O’Dowd, R. (2017). Exploring the impact of telecollaboration in initial teacher education: The EVALUATE project. The EUROCALL Review, 25(2), 38–41.

O’Dowd, R., & Eberbach, K. (2004). Guides on the side? Task and challenges for teachers in telecollaborative projects. ReCALL, 16(1).

O’Dowd, R. (2018). From telecollaboration to virtual exchange: Stage-of-the-art and the role of UNIcollaboration in moving forward. Journal of Virtual Exchange, 1(23).

O’Rourke, B. (2007). Models of telecollaboration (1): eTandem. In O’Dowd (Ed.), Online intercultural exchange: An introduction for foreign language teachers (pp. 41–61). Multilingual Matters.

Pfingsthorn, J., Kramer, C., Czura, A., & Stefl, M. (2019). The formation of professional identity and motivation to engage it telecollaboration in foreign language education. European Journal of Language Policy, 11(2), 143–165. Liverpool University Press.

Rążewska, A. (2022). Developing group work and peer cooperation through telecollaboration. Unpublished M.A. Thesis. Pedagogical University of Cracow.

Richards, J., C., & Rodgers, T. S. (2014). Approaches and methods in language teaching (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Rockwood, H. S. (1995). Cooperative and collaborative learning. National Learning Forum, 4(6), 8–9.

Ruys, I., Van Keer, H., & Aelterman, A. (2012). Examining pre-service teacher competence in lesson planning pertaining to collaborative learning. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 44, 349–379.

Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories. An educational perspective (6th ed.). Pearson Education.

Shea, D. P. (2017). Compelled to speak: Addressing student reticence in a university EFL classroom. The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4(2), 173–184.

Storch, N. (2002). Patterns of interaction in ESL pair work. Language Learning, 52(1), 119–158.

Taskiran, A. (2019). Telecollaboration: Fostering foreign language learning at a distance. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 22(2), 87–97.

Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequences in small groups. Psychological Bulletin, 63(6), 384–399.

Tuckman, B. W., & Jensen, M. A. C. (1977). Stages of small-group development revised. Group & Organization Management, 2(4), 419–427.

Turula, A., & Raith, T. (2015). Telecollaboration insights: Learning from exchanges that fail. The EUROCALL Review, 23(2), 19–37.

Vygotsky, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). L.S. Vygotsky: Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.

Ware, P. (2018). Telecollaboration. In J. I. Liontas & M. DelliCarpini (Ed.), The TESOL Encyclopedia of English Language Teaching. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Yang, S. J (2020). Affordances and challenges of telecollaboration for pre-service teachers. Language Learning & Technology, 24(3), 30–41.

Zarrinabadi, N., & Pawlak, M. (2021). New perspectives on willingness to communicate in a second language. Springer.


Published : 2024-03-18

NowakS., & RążewskaA. (2024). Challenging but Rewarding Aspects of Telecollaboration: The Case of Virtual Israeli-Polish (VIP) Project. Theory and Practice of Second Language Acquisition, 10(1), 1-47.

Sabina Nowak
Polish Nobel Laureates Primary School in Luborzyca  Poland
Aleksandra Rążewska 
University of the National Education Commission in Krakow  Poland

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Copyright Holders of the submitted texts are the Authors. The Reader is granted the rights to use the material available in the TAPSLA websites and pdf documents under the provisions of the Creative Commons 4.0 International License: Attribution - Share Alike  (CC BY-SA 4.0). The user is free to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.

1. License

The University of Silesia Press provides immediate open access to journal’s content under the Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license ( Authors who publish with this journal retain all copyrights and agree to the terms of the above-mentioned CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

2. Author’s Warranties

The author warrants that the article is original, written by stated author/s, has not been published before, contains no unlawful statements, does not infringe the rights of others, is subject to copyright that is vested exclusively in the author and free of any third party rights, and that any necessary written permissions to quote from other sources have been obtained by the author/s.

If the article contains illustrative material (drawings, photos, graphs, maps), the author declares that the said works are of his authorship, they do not infringe the rights of the third party (including personal rights, i.a. the authorization to reproduce physical likeness) and the author holds exclusive proprietary copyrights. The author publishes the above works as part of the article under the licence "Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International".

ATTENTION! When the legal situation of the illustrative material has not been determined and the necessary consent has not been granted by the proprietary copyrights holders, the submitted material will not be accepted for editorial process. At the same time the author takes full responsibility for providing false data (this also regards covering the costs incurred by the University of Silesia Press and financial claims of the third party).

3. User Rights

Under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, the users are free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the contribution) and adapt (remix, transform, and build upon the material) the article for any purpose, provided they attribute the contribution in the manner specified by the author or licensor.

4. Co-Authorship

If the article was prepared jointly with other authors, the signatory of this form warrants that he/she has been authorized by all co-authors to sign this agreement on their behalf, and agrees to inform his/her co-authors of the terms of this agreement.

I hereby declare that in the event of withdrawal of the text from the publishing process or submitting it to another publisher without agreement from the editorial office, I agree to cover all costs incurred by the University of Silesia in connection with my application.