Using Facebook for Telecollaboration

Fostering the Development of Intercultural Competence


Anastasia Izmaylova-Culpepper, University of Iowa

Click the video frame above to view the presentation. To ask the presenters a question about their presentation, please add a comment at the bottom of this page between October 3 and October 8. Presenters will check for and reply to questions each symposium day.


The continuous development and global spread of internet technologies and the ever-growing rates of international migration have contributed to a world that is more interconnected than ever before. This has resulted in a drastic change in the nature of human communication: computer-mediated and intercultural interactions are now an everyday reality for many people. In this context, digital literacy and intercultural competence have become essential skills for success in the 21st century. The new demands have to be reflected in education, which is why intercultural exchanges through the latest internet communication tools are gaining popularity in foreign language classrooms. This presentation reports on a telecollaboration project between college-level American learners of Spanish and Colombian learners of English. The online exchange was conducted via Facebook over the course of eight weeks.

Constructed as a many-to-many interaction, all the communication took place in a private Facebook group. Each week learners posted photos or videos with descriptions on an assigned discussion topic and commented on each other’s posts. In their posts, American students referred to their experiences and American culture, while their Colombian peers’ posts were related to the Colombian culture. Learners’ interactions, portfolio-based reflections, and pre- and post-project surveys and interviews were analyzed to identify how telecollaboration may affect learners’ intercultural competence, what kinds of learning may happen in such exchanges, and what role the medium plays in the process.

In this presentation I will discuss how learners’ understanding of their own culture and the concept of culture in general has evolved as a result of the project. I will also discuss learners’ attitudes towards telecollaboration and the use of social media and Facebook in particular for a learning task. In addition, the challenges and affordances of using Facebook for online intercultural exchanges will be discussed.

Anastasia Izmaylova-Culpepper

University of Iowa

4 thoughts on “Using Facebook for Telecollaboration”

    1. Hi Elaine! I didn’t ask them, but many really liked the “Interpersonal communication etiquette” topic. They were blown away by the fact that in Colombia people greet each other with a kiss on the cheek, even when meeting someone for the first time. This one issue alone brought a lot of discussion about differences in personal space and just general openness to other people. I think almost everyone mentioned this topic as the time when they learned something new and useful.

  1. Hi Anastasia! I really enjoyed learning about your study. I wonder how you decided on the topics for 8 weeks, and why you did not opt to collect data from the Colombian students as well.

    1. Hi Mehtap!
      I decided on the topics myself based on what students had previously found interesting in similar exchanges. I tried to make all the topics relatable and also thought of themes that I knew would showcase some of the cultural differences.
      As for data, it wasn’t possible for me to interview the Colombian students and it could have turned into an unmanageable amount of data to process under time restrictions.

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