As one of a series of project publications, the EVOLVE team recently launched the research report The Impact of Virtual Exchange on Teachers’ Pedagogical Competences and Pedagogical Approach in Higher Education. 

The focus of this report is on how pedagogical competences of in-service higher education teachers respond to the implementation of Virtual Exchange (VE) in academic courses. To investigate professional development of VE academic-level practitioners, we analysed the data collected from 53 academic teachers directly involved in setting up their own VE projects. These data included responses to an online survey and follow-up interviews. 

The findings of the study show that VE is a powerful lever to teachers’ own competence development, which is in parallel with the learning of their students participating in the VE. The main findings confirm that the experience of designing and putting into place VE, in collaboration with international partner teachers, fosters – quite predictably – VE-specific skills, such as digital competence, VE task design, and alignment between tasks and tools. Moreover, this enhances the refinement of more general teacher professional competences such as course design skills, organisational skills, pedagogical flexibility and the ability to adapt. Importantly, VE experience also strengthens student-centered approaches. Our report identifies a range of indicators for teachers’ increased sensitivity to student agency and, with that, a strong focus on student-centered practices. It also puts to the fore personal competences that teachers develop through the process of implementing VE. 

The study has also demonstrated that VE is frequently perceived by teachers as challenging. These challenges do not, however, diminish the generally very positive feedback from teachers on their experience of VE but, rather, are seen as a new learning opportunity. The findings also show that the refinement of pedagogical competencies that results from VE implementation transfers to their regular teaching, be it VE-enhanced or conventional. 

The authors of the report are:

  • Elke Nissen, University Grenoble Alpes
  • Małgorzata Kurek, Jan Dlugosz University

 The full report may be found here.

An overview of all EVOLVE research reports is available here:

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