The first Multiplier Event of EU-MADE4LL took place on 29th September 2017 in Hannover. It was the ideal venue for the Project Partners to introduce the first intellectual output developed in Year 1, namely the EU-MADE4LL e-learning platform, to a varied and receptive audience of guests and prospect stakeholders including academics, school teachers, teacher trainers, researchers, digital and multimodal analysts.
The Multiplier Event was hosted by Ivana Marenzi, who welcomed the guests by presenting the mission of the L3S Research Centre, and it opened with presentations by the Project Coordinator, Maria Grazia Sindoni, and by Sandra Petroni, who illustrated background, motivation, and rationale of the project. The latter started as a pilot project involving four Italian Universities and, thanks to its positive outcomes, was then exported in an international context so as to frame it in a transnational dimension with the contribution of Leeds and Aarhus universities.
Each partner then gave a short explanation of their role in the project, also pointing out the issues and challenges (both ethical and organizational) faced when exporting the project into an international context. Elisabetta Adami (University of Leeds) highlighted the issue of finding a common denominator policy in terms of ethical treatment of students’ sensitive data, as the joint syllabus will involve the production of digital texts which may reveal students’ identities, not to mention the problem of recruiting students within curricular contexts where they may feel forced to give their explicit consent to store sensitive contents. All these ethical issues have been carefully dealt with during the first year of the project, resulting in a portfolio of all procedures which was officially approved by the University of Leeds Ethical Committee, which was the strictest institution among all partners as far as ethics was concerned.
Ilaria Moschini (University of Florence) focused on the issue of adapting the project into different academic contexts and course requirements (e.g. ECTS, core and secondary readings, evaluation grids, assessment criteria and peer-assessment forms), while Carmen Daniela Maier (Aarhus University) drew attention on the students’ expectations about how a multimodality module can be integrated into their studies on corporate discourse by specifically focusing on how multimodal and digital skills are required in the job market and not exclusively from a technical standpoint.
The challenges have been addressed by the project partners, for example by establishing a shared ethics policy across the five universities, and by underscoring the advantages coming from developing the students’ ability in designing, analysing, and evaluating digital texts in a world where communication is increasingly multimodal. Peer assessment was also discussed as a key aspect of the project, by which students are led to reflect on their own work and their peers’. A further asset of the project is the partnership with Marc Rocca, MD of Rocca Creative Thinking UK. Marc Rocca explained how students will put their coursework to the test by tackling realistic work scenarios during hands-on workshops at Rocca in Sheffield.
Ivana Marenzi took the floor again to illustrate the features and functionalies of the EU-MADE4LL Design Framework and Platform developed by the researchers at L3S, which will be used for the project and is already being used for educational purposes– e.g. by Maria Bortoluzzi (University of Udine),who, in the afternoon session, presented the YELL/TELL community, where teachers use the platform to generate and share multimodal resources for English language learners. Further insights came from the invited speakers.
Melinda Dooly (Univeristat Autonoma de Barcelona) illustrated the FIT pedagogical model (Flipped & In-class instruction & Telecollaboration) whereby students training to become language teachers in Spain engage in online collaborative activities with their colleagues in the US; Francesca Coccetta (University of Ca’ Foscari, Venice) emphasized the need for language teachers to teach multimodality and provided some practical examples of how to analyse and reflect on a range of different multimodal texts.
Lastly, a very interesting contribution came from Digital Analysts Ralph Ehwert and Eirini Noutzi (University of Hannover), who showed how multimodal information can be used for searching image and video data, and for developing sentiment analysis research, which can then find a number of applications (educational, commercial, political). Both partners’ and invited presentations were followed by a lively ‘question time’ during which the participants expressed their appreciation of the project and gave constructive feedback – also on how the project could be implemented in other educational contexts – which the partners will take into consideration to further develop the project.
By Roberta Signorino
In June 19-20, the EU-MADE4LL partners met at the University of Aarhus (Denmark) for the second transnational meeting of the project. All partners were present, including Hannover university, which contributed online to the joint discussions. On the agenda, the finalisation of the second intellectual output of the project, namely the development of a common international syllabus that will be taught during Year 2 of the project’s life, that is academic year 2017-2018. Five different classes will be involved in the experimentation, i.e. Rome, Florence, Messina (Italy), Leeds (UK), and Aarhus (Denmark). The teachers/researchers responsible for each research units (Elisabetta Adami, Leeds; Carmen D. Maier, Aarhus; Ilaria Moschini, Florence; Sandra Petroni, Rome and Maria Grazia Sindoni, Messina) discussed several topics, including:
1) finalisation of the baseline surveys that will be submitted to all participants (and thus provide data for the comparison with the project’s results);
2) calendarization of the workshops that will be delivered in each University involved in the project;
3) core and secondary readings that will made up the background knowledge in multimodality and digital literacy for participants;
4) peer-assessment grids that are the backbone of the assessment procedure.
The peer-assessment grids have been developed so as to make sure that all students are equipped with a set of clear and standardised guidelines to assess their peer students from other universities with fairness. Ethics procedures during the project have been also thoroughly discussed to make sure that the most rigorous standards are met and that all stakeholders follow the European standards on protection of sensitive data of students.
Teachers/researchers have exchanged ideas with the IT group from Hannover, with Ivana Marenzi and Phillipp Kemke, who have developed the intellectual output 1, that is a flexible and powerful e-learning platform, EU-MADE4LL, produced in Year 1 and will be used by teachers/researchers in all stages of the development of the intellectual output 2, that is the international syllabus on multimodality and digital literacy in English for intercultural communication.
Marc Rocca, the Managing Director of Rocca Creative Thinking who represents the standpoint of the job market, has greatly enhanced the range of discussions by providing constant feedback on the requirements in digital literacy and critical skills that need to be encouraged for future employees in the context of business, intercultural communication, diplomacy and cooperation, education, media and communication, and IT.
The kick off meeting of the EU-MADE4LL project was held in Messina on November 24-25, 2016. The University of Messina is the main applicant for the project and the kick off was organized to officially launch all the activities. All partners attended the meeting, including Prof. Carmen D. Maier, who attended online all the sessions. At the introductory session, prof. Maria Grazia Sindoni, project coordinator, reported on the Erasmus + Key Action 2 “Strategic Partnership for Higher Education” general kick off meeting held in Rome, October 25, 2016 with the project manager Dr. Francesca Pollicino from Unime International Relations Office.
The agenda was full of important topics that the partners were eager to discuss, including a briefing presenting the project’s general agenda and detailed illustration of the three intellectual outputs, namely 1) the development of an online e-teaching and e-learning collaborative platform that will be developed by the Hannover research unit directed by Dr. Ivana Marenzi in Year 1; 2) the set-up of an international joint syllabus on multimodality and digital literacy which will be taught in Year 2 in Messina, Leeds, Florence, Aarhus and Rome; 3) the creation of the Common European Framework for Digital Literacy based on the descriptors used for the Common European Framework for Languages in Year 3.
After each partner presented their research/operative units, a range of other topics were debated in the two-day transnational meeting, to lay the foundations for the development of the joint syllabus (IO2), in particular discussing critical issues such as the development of ad hoc baseline surveys to be submitted to all students participating in the project so as to produce data, useful to compare with the project’s final results. It is crucial to have measurable data from the beginning to the end of the project to understand students’ progress and improvement in their critical skills in digital literacy. The teachers/researchers also started discussing the common readings for all students participating in the project and the calendarization of the numerous mobilities in Year 2 that will involve 5 teachers/researchers in 5 different Universities (i.e. Aarhus, Florence, Leeds, Messina, Rome) for a total of 28 days for each teacher/researcher (140 days for the whole joint syllabus).
On November 25th, all partners discussed the main functionalities that the EU-MADE4LL platform will have, with particular reference on how to pair students from different Universities, as one of the main tenets of the project is experimentation on peer-assessment. The discussion with the IT research unit was very productive.
At the kick off meeting, the partner from the job market was introduced, namely Marc Rocca, managing Director of Rocca Creative Thinking, a leading creative consultancy in the field of digital media and communication worldwide (www.roccacreative.co.uk)