A Design Methodology for a Computer-Supported Collaborative Skills Lab in Technical Translation Teaching

Marco Zappatore
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 21  •  2022  •  pp. 137-167

The aim of this study is to adopt more systematically the collaborative learning dimension in the technical translation teaching at Master Degree level. In order to do so, a computer-supported skills lab approach is targeted. This approach is aimed at enhancing traditional courses on Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) so that student competences and soft skills are enhanced.

In traditional CAT courses, laboratory sessions complement theoretical lessons, thus providing students mainly with tool-oriented operational knowledge, while nowadays more intertwined competences are required by the labor market. Moreover, this sector lacks skills labs which engage students in collaborative activities mimicking professional workflows, thus not exploiting team-based learning potential effectiveness.

In this paper, therefore, a design methodology to deploy and operate an enhanced skills lab as a remote Computer-Supported Collaborative Simulated Translation Bureau (CS2TB) is proposed and validated. The proposed methodology is based on a set of intertwined methodological frameworks that address: 1) student competences and educational requirements, 2) collaborative aspects, 3) regulatory policies as well as functional and interactional guidelines for the simulated fieldwork. The overall effectiveness of the proposed methodology has been assessed by using pre-post questionnaires to ascertain student feedback. The improvement in technology skills has been evaluated by collecting and examining student help requests as well as system error logs.

The CS2TB provides a technology-enhanced simulation-based learning environment whose aim is twofold: first, enriching traditional approaches with a Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) experience and, second, incorporating widely adopted approaches for the translation-teaching domain as the required grounding knowledge.

Results demonstrate the effectiveness of CS2TB in improving students’ competences (specifically in the IT area but also in the technical translation area), students’ willingness to operate in a fieldwork-like context and cooperative learning efficacy.

The educational implications of the proposed approach concern the development of a full range of competences and soft skills for students in the technical translation teaching at the higher education level, ranging from language and translation proficiency to the usage of IT platforms as well as personal and interpersonal interactional soft skills.

This study offers a wide overview of all the aspects entailed by the design, implementation, management, and evaluation of a skills lab for technical translation teaching. Researchers may benefit from the rigorous modelling approach as well as from the adopted assessment techniques. Moreover, the study stresses the pivotal role of a tight collaboration between language/translation teaching and computer engineering.

Higher education institutions that already have courses on computer-assisted translation may benefit from the proposed CS2TB approach, which allows them to design new thematic activities leveraging team-based learning, collaborative learning, and fieldwork-situated simulation. Moreover, the presented broad range of assessment approaches can be used to measure the impact of CS2TB on learning outcomes of the involved students.

Future research activities will be dedicated to examining the impact of a different set of enabling IT platforms on the collaborative learning perspective, to evaluate alternative scaffolding approaches (e.g., chatbots or augmented reality), and to increase simulation fidelity further, so that even more student competences can be fostered.

collaborative online learning, team-based learning, computer-assisted translation, higher education, skills lab, simulation-based education
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