Multilingualism – Interculturalism – Digital Media
About the project
A total of about 210,000 children and young adults at Austrian schools speak a first language other than German. This first languages include: Turkish, Bosnian, Criatian, Serbian, Polish, Slovenian, Russian, Romanian, French, Italian, Spanish, English, Chinese, Hindi, Somali, Farsi and many more. The voXmi project not only contributes to making these languages visible, but also to making them accessible to a large number of students in Austria and beyond. voXmi – learning and experiencing languages together and from each other – is a step towards appreciative cooperation.
The focus of the project lies in the development of didactic strategies that allow the implementing the promotion of multilingualism (with special emphasis on the first languages spoken at the school and the foreign languages that are taught).
Digital media are incorporated wherever they add greater value compared to existing methods. They can be an appropriate tool to support language leatning processes.
- Promotion of multilingualism in the classroom: children and young adults whose first language is not German offer insights into their language and their cultural world.
- To avtively involve the lives of the learners and to facilitate the networking between all project participants, language training puts an increased focus on the use of digital media (e.g. via the internet including a learning platform, or other Web 2.0 technologies).
- Student-centred instruction by means of digital media is also changing the role of teachers: They are moving away from teacher-centred instruction towards being a learning companion and a coach.
- In addition to providing the option of remedial classes, the project has a great potential for the promotion of giftedness of interested students.
- Parallel to the project, a pool of addressee-oriented practical examples is created for the purpose of customisation and networking in language training.
- Raising student awareness to encourage them to further develop their language skills as well as that of their classmates.
- Cooperative multilingual activities under the supervision of a teacher specially trained for this purpose.
- Development of impulses for teaching in the area of individualised learning by means of digital media (in addition, online communication tools can be used to involve experts from the countries where the respective languages are spoken).
voXmi as a topic for school development
All work in the voXmi project is based on the voXmi targets. All voXmi schools make a commitment to reaching these targets at the beginning of the project.
Target agreements for project schools
- All students come into touch with the content of the project as early as possible in the course of their school education. The objective is to raise awareness in the fields of “intercultural learning” as well as active and living multilingualism.
- All teachers gather experience in the fields of “intercultural learning” and “active and living multilingualism at school” in their respective subjects, and make their experiences available to all colleagues and support their students in achieving the first target of the project.
- Teachers of the pilot schools participate in corresponding training courses in the fields of pedagogies and e-learning.
- Teachers and students alike are willing to use digital media – in particular the communication opportunities provided by the internet – wherever they present an additional value compared to conventional media.
- The living environment of the student is of central importance.
- Teams of professional groups and teachers test the chances, opportunities and limitations of the project in class and exchange their experiences in this field.
- Project schools develop models for the actual implementation of the project targets in class together and make their experiences available to everyone.
- Pilot schools will inform parents about the significance of the project; as important partners, they are invited into the project.
- The findings of the project are rooted in the school’s programme and are a factor in the organisation of everyday school life.
- The project targets are an important concern to the school’s administration. The project has a high priority in everyday school life.
The school has a school coordinator and a steering group that coordinate the project development and in-class testing, taking care of the project’s progress and project documentation (strategy paper, annual school report on the school year). The steering group is led equally by the headmaster’s office and the school coordinator.
Other than the fundamental target agreements, each school year will have an annual theme, depending on current needs, trends and national and international topic focuses.
School year 2008/2009 (pilot phase):
- Learning the basics of IT, multilingualism and interculturalism
- Review of current situation at the schools: Where do we stand? What are our prerequisites? Where do we want to go?
School year 2009/2010:
- creation of educational impulses
- evaluation (Graz – NMS St. Andrä, University of Vienna)
School year 2010/2011:
- partner school projects
- evaluation (University of Vienna)
- role of headmaster’s office
School year 2011/2012:
- work with parents
- evaluation (University of Vienna)
School year 2012/2013:
- voXmi – a brand for language-friendly schools
voXmi schools drav up their individual strategy plan at the beginning of every school year, which, based on the general target agreements and the annual theme, lay out the specific measures and activities at the school:
- In which classes/groups and in which subjects are voXmi units scheduled in this school year?
- Which teachers are working on this project, either directly or indirectly?
- What measures of teacher training are planned at the school?
- What networking projects with other schools are planned?
- How will voXmi be incorporated into school development?
- Which digital media will be used for the voXmi project activities?
- In which way will parents be involved in the project?
Training and support
Over the course of the school year, the federal coordinator visits all voXmi schools and, based on school reports, holds conversations about target agreements with the voXmi school coordinator and the school administration.
Organised networking meetings are used to make plans together and to discuss successful projects and challenges, enabling exchange of knowledge between schools.
Schools can find ready-made small learning units for viewing, downloading and testing on the learning platform (Moodle) that accompanies the project. The learning platform can also serve as a means of communication between voXmi schools.
In the project blog, one can find current reports from the project schools, as well as current news and background information on the project.
There is a special training series for voXmi schools that is designed to give teachers professional background knowledge for their work. This training series is organised and supported by the Styria University College of Teacher Education.
Evaluation plays an important role in the voXmi project. Since the start of the project, internal and external evaluation measures have been taken in order to evaluate the efficiency of the project, to retain the factors of success and to recognise stumbling blocks or challenges as such and to work on a constant improvement of the project.
Specifically, these evaluation measures can be divided into the following two fields:
1. Internal evaluation measures:
At the beginning of each school year, every voXme school makes an annual plan that is tailored to the school and has a clear focus on the voXmi objectives. Moreover, each schools writes an annual final report at the end of every school year. Both reports are submitted to the federal project management. Over the course of the school year, the federal coordinator visits all voXmi schools and, based on school reports, holds conversations about target agreements with the voXmi school coordinator and the school administration.
2. External evaluation measures:
- School year 2009/2010: Evaluation by the University of Graz
- School year 2010/11: Evaluation by the University of Vienna / 2x
- School year 2011/2012: Evaluation by the University of Vienna
- School year 2012/2013: Evaluation by the University of Vienna
- School year 2013/14: Evaluation by the University College of Teacher Education of Vienna