It can be challenging to construct a learning task where language learners take initiatives and harness their skills and knowledge in order to create something new through the medium of the target language in a learning environment that simulates contemporary workplace practice. Following a two-semester trial period, a pilot project was set up in 2019 as a collaborative effort between English teachers at the University of Zaragoza (Spain), University of Poznan (Poland) and University of Oulu (Finland) to address this challenge. The project was realized as an online course where international teams of students of technology and business set out to identify a real-world problem and seek a solution to the problem through negotiation. Throughout the course ran the notion of developing entrepreneurship competence, as defined in the Entrepreneurship Competence Framework (Bacigalupo, M. et al., 2016), and the project simulated the increasingly common phenomenon of working in distance teams. Since each team comprised participants from a range of disciplines, problems could be investigated from different perspectives. For the participants, the project began with a webinar that introduced them to the Design Sprint process (Knapp et al., 2016), during which the students had the opportunity to experience a mini-design sprint themselves. Over a period of about six weeks after the webinar, each team used the techniques of the design sprint to develop an innovative response to a problem they had identified. This included a validation stage, where the feasibility of the solution was tested by collecting feedback from potential users using a questionnaire or survey. Finally, each team presented their idea in a collaborative video pitch, as well as in an individual written report prepared by each team member separately. During the course, each team was given a great deal of autonomy with matters such as arranging the work schedule and choosing online tools needed for communication, which entailed considerable negotiation within the teams. Summative feedback revealed that students appreciated the opportunities to practise teamwork and scheduling in an international context, the experience of using English as a genuine lingua franca and the freedom to determine their own ways of working.
La creación de una tarea de aprendizaje donde los estudiantes a través del inglés sean capaces de tomar iniciativas y explotar sus habilidades y conocimientos para crear algo nuevo en entornos de aprendizaje que recrean la realidad en los puestos de trabajo resulta un reto dentro del contexto de educación superior. Tras una experiencia previa implementada en dos semestres, se plantea en 2019 este proyecto piloto que nace de la colaboración entre profesores de inglés de las Universidades de Zaragoza (España), Poznan (Polonia) y Oulu (Finlandia). En él, equipos internacionales de estudiantes de distintas ingenierías y empresariales se propusieron identificar un problema del mundo real y buscarle una solución a través de la negociación. Cada equipo de forma autónoma realizó elecciones sobre asuntos como la organización de horarios de trabajo o sobre.
- Bacigalupo, M., Kampylis, P., Punie, Y., & Van den Brande, G. (2016). EntreComp: The Entrepreneurship Competence Framework. Luxembourg: Publication Office of the European Union.
- Knapp, J., Zeratsky, J., & Kowitz, B. (2016). Sprint: How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days. Simon and Schuster.
PILAR GONZALEZ-VERA completed her PhD in English Philology at the University of Zaragoza. She is a lecturer in audiovisual translation and technical English at the University of Zaragoza. She is a researcher in the CIRES (Comunicación Internacional y Retos Sociales) group and has participated in innovative teaching networks like "Icap" intralingual captioning for writing and vocabulary enhancement within an integrated skills framework" and "Sublite" for improving listening and writing skills in EFL. Her research interests include the use of new technologies and audiovisual translation in SLA. She has published in several journals and participated in numerous national and international conferences.
KATARZYNA SOBAŃSKA holds her Master's degree in American Culture from Warsaw University. She has been working as an academic teacher at the Centre of Languages and Communication at Poznan University of Technology since 2014, where she teaches English for Specific Purposes (ESP) with emphasis on technical vocabulary in various engineering fields of studies. Her professional interests cover communication across cultures as well as implementing the use of modern technologies in language teaching. Currently, she is also working on an online language course for students that includes different aspects of cultural awareness.
EVA BRAIDWOOD Ph.D. is a lecturer in English language and communication at the University of Oulu. She has been teaching ESP/EAP for various degree-programmes, architecture, engineering, business and medical. In cooperation with colleagues, she has designed and taught courses in professional communication to master's and postgraduate engineering students in Finland in other EU countries. She has published journal articles and presented conference papers on academic writing and design, evaluation of course work and curriculum development. Alongside researching disciplinary discourse cultures, most recently she has been working on designing CLIL courses in higher education and customized assessment in integrated course assignments.
NINA JACKSON earned her Master's degree in Arts and Education at the University of Oulu in 2017 and she is currently working as a Planning Officer at her home University. Nina is part of the Finland's Ministry of Culture and Education spearhead project YYTO, which promotes entrepreneurial learning at the Finnish higher education institutions. Nina has experience both from student based start-ups as well as from a global organization. In her work she is combining the best bits from the field of education, art and business with the start-up mindset to provide students entrepreneurial learning experiences.
SUSAN MCANSH holds a Master's degree in Applied English Linguistics from the University of Birmingham, UK. She is employed as a lecturer at Languages and Communication in the Extension School at the University of Oulu, where she is responsible for curriculum planning and the teaching of English language and communication courses for students of engineering and technology. Her special interests include the teaching of academic writing, about which she has reported in several publications and at various conferences. She is currently working on the employment of digital technologies to support language learning and the integration of language with substance studies.