Developing a collaborative community: Guidelines for establishing a computer-mediated language learning project with a developing country.
Proficiency in a second language and intercultural awareness are seen as important personal and professional assets as we take an increasingly global perspective. In Australia, Indonesian is one of the priority languages, while in Indonesia, English is the most widely taught foreign language in schools and is compulsory for most secondary students. This paper describes the pilot study and subsequent development of a project, QUIPNet (QUeensland Indonesia Proyek internet), designed to enhance the language proficiency and cultural awareness of students using computer-mediated exchanges. Ten schools in Indonesia and ten schools in Queensland, Australia have been linked in this large-scale tandem e-learning project, after a preliminary year-long feasibility study, with the support of the Queensland Ministry of Education and the Australian Research Council. While the concept of a digital divide is no longer the contentious issue it was 5 years ago (Rao, 2000), throughout the world, governments, business and educational institutions are taking strenuous steps to join the global virtual communities. Nevertheless, reliable and affordable access to the use of computers and the Internet are still very real constraints on the use of computer mediated communication in developing countries such as Indonesia. The numerous compromises which have had to be made to the design of the interactions taking place will be discussed in the context of this background. Some guidelines for the inclusion of developing countries in the design and implementation of computer-mediated language learning communities are derived from this discussion.