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Critical Digital Literacy in Virtual Exchange for ELT Teacher Education: an interpretivist methodology

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Müge SatarORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Virtual Exchange (VE) is an ideal venue for digital literacy skills development (Fuchs et al., 2012) and for Critical Digital Literacy (CDL) (Hauck, 2019). Yet literacy is a fluid, deictic term, the meaning of which is context-dependent (Leu, 1997) and digital literacies need to be defined and conceptualised within a specific context (Brown, 2017). Recent CALL literature highlights the interest in CDL from various perspectives (Hauck, 2019; Knight, Dooly, & Barbera, 2021; Murray, Giralt, & Benini, 2020; Nicolaou, 2021) and this study makes a significant contribution to this growing literature with a focus on VE. The aim of this interpretivist study is to investigate how CDL was conceptualised by the participants during a 6-week VE between trainee English language teachers in the UK and Turkey. The ongoing reflections of 37 participants on CDL were captured through reflective e-portfolio entries following each VE task. Thematic analysis revealed four pillars of CDL in VE within this specific context. Findings underscored participants’ awareness of digital affordances for self-expression, semiotic and interactional means to build connections, ensuring inclusiveness of all community members and the implications of socio-political contexts of each participant for meaning-making and interaction. We conclude that in future pedagogical implementations of VE, facilitators can foster trainee teachers’ CDL development through more closely guided and informed reflection on the four themes presented in this paper. As such, this study makes a novel contribution to our understanding of CDL in VE settings in higher education.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bilki Z, Satar M, Sak M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: ReCALL

Year: 2023

Volume: 35

Issue: 1

Pages: 58-73

Print publication date: 01/01/2023

Online publication date: 14/06/2022

Acceptance date: 28/02/2022

Date deposited: 10/12/2021

ISSN (print): 0958-3440

ISSN (electronic): 1474-0109

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S095834402200009X


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Funder referenceFunder name
TED University Internal Research Fund