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Investigating EAST (A Scotland-Gaza English for Academic Study Telecollaboration between SET Students)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 5

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Paper Authors


Bill Guariento University of Glasgow

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I have worked as an English for Academic Purposes tutor at the University of Glasgow for 15 years, directing the University's year-round pre-sessional course, lecturing on the sociolinguistics options of our Masters in ELT, and leading our in-sessional work with Science, Engineering and Technology students. I have worked as a teacher-trainer in Italy and Eritrea, and prepared and taught on English preparation courses specifically for electrical engineers in China, Palestine and Libya.

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Nazmi Abdel-Salam Almasri The Islamic University of Gaza - Palestine

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Nazmi Al-Masri is an associate professor of TEFL and curriculum development. Since he obtained his PhD from Manchester University, UK, in 1994, he has been working at the English Language Department, the Islamic University of Gaza- Palestine. He teaches Technology in TEFL, ELT Methodology, ELT Research Methods and ESp courses.He participated in building the English language curriculum and textbooks used in Palestinian schools and currently participating in four EU funded projects.

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Anna Rolinska University of Glasgow

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Anna Rolinska has 15 years of experience in teaching English as a Foreign Language. For the last 6 years she has worked at the University of Glasgow specialising in teaching English for Academic and Specific Purposes. Anna is interested in academic development, particularly related to writing skills and graduate attributes. She has developed a keen interest in e-learning and how technologies can be used to enhance learning and teaching processes. Her special areas of interest include: effective online course and activity design, building online communities and multimodal approaches to writing and assessment.

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How can technology be best-harnessed to innovate pedagogical approaches to curriculum design and delivery, in order to enhance university students’ learning experience? This article looks at this question from the perspective of an English for Specific Purposes (ESP) course, and reports on a number of technology-enabled interventions to the design and teaching methods used on a science, engineering and technology (SET) pre-sessional programme. Every summer our university in the UK runs an intensive ESP course for incoming international Master’s students wanting to study SET-related disciplines. In previous years, these students nominated a problem within their field, researched solutions, and presented them in form of a written assignment and an oral presentation. In August 2015 an online collaboration with a partner university in Palestine was piloted, which allowed several significant developments. During the project, 20 Palestinian students and 37 UK-based students, divided into small groups, worked together on authentic and highly contextualised SET-related problems from the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian students devised the scenarios and acted as critical friends, providing content-oriented feedback to their peers in the UK. Based on this guidance and research, the students in the UK analysed and evaluated possible solutions. This mentoring scheme was facilitated by an intensive online preparatory course in constructive feedback offered to the Palestinian students prior to the start of the ESP course. At the end of the project, the pre-sessional students delivered presentations to the audience in Gaza via a videoconference link. The course was evaluated highly. In an end-of-project survey with an 81% rate of completion, the students from both institutions commented on the range of positive outcomes of the participation, for example language practice, development of digital literacies and enhancement of content knowledge. It was felt, though, that there was an imbalance in benefits and that there is a need to revise the course further, in order to offer more opportunities for mentoring input from the Palestinian participants. This article reports on the project and looks into how the technology-enabled interventions helped improve the course, by strengthening the project-based learning elements of the previous course design, focusing on development of transferable skills, and above all bringing real-world issues into the SET classroom. Working with authentic and specific issues, improvement in the UK-based students’ output, in terms of critical analysis and evaluation, was noted. The paper also outlines a number of related challenges, in order to help any educator interested in introducing tele-collaboration into their curriculum to avoid pitfalls and make more informed decisions.

Guariento, B., & Almasri, N. A., & Rolinska, A. (2016, June), Investigating EAST (A Scotland-Gaza English for Academic Study Telecollaboration between SET Students) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25472

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