Why communication need no longer be the main focus for language learners.
We need to shift our focus. At the moment, the reason to learn a language is ostensibly to translate your own ideas and experiences. Up to GCSE pupils are encouraged to talk about their own lives, but only by translating English words. This is not the way to spark enthusiasm for foreign cultures, and will usually be greeted with the response “but everyone already speaks English”. In a way, it’s very Anglo-centric – the focus is on how we can say English things in a different language.
Of course there are things that every good syllabus must contain (see list below). And although I publish it as a PDF and make it available online, the paper version is still necessary and expected at my institution. SO in some ways it can’t depart TOO much from convention. But applying some layout tools to it – sidebars, boxes, images, varying the font, titles, a table of contents – makes the end product far more engaging, no?
I’ve asked my class to submit all of their writing via Google Docs this semester. Google Docs are easier to comment on and return to students. My students and I also don’t need to worry about which version of a given document is attached to which email, since we share a online documents rather than exchanging files. Though there have been a few technical hiccups, on the whole, managing a revision-heavy class has been much easier through Google Docs than it ever was via email or CMS.
In Spring 2013, I taught LAT312K: Intermediate Latin at the University of Texas-Austin. This was the fourth and last required course in the Latin sequence at UT and focused on Vergil’sAeneid. The course functioned both as a cap to a student’s Latin experience (several of my students were graduating seniors finishing off their required courses) and a gateway into advanced study of Latin literature and culture for Classics majors. One of my goals in the course was introducing students to a variety of approaches scholars take to the study of Latin literature in general and Vergil’s Aeneid in particular. This goal allowed me to include a digital humanities element in the course by having my students experiment with digital methodologies. One such assignment focused on text analysis. I include the assignment below, as well as my reflections on how this pedagogical experiment went.
Charlotte Frost and Jesse Stommel met (as they often do) in a Google Doc to do some writing. This time, however, they invited a group of people to join them, and they demonstrated how and why they write together in Google Docs. In the blog post below, you can read the text they generated, but the original Google Doc they used can also be viewed as can the video of them writing together.
Here's BLR's latest promo clip. Luxury cars with powerful engines to drive through roads under severe speed restrictions, cable TV that allows us to pay to watch all kind of sports, all from our comfortable sofa, and of course, hyper expensive cell phones that do almost everything but making a decent phone call. Yes, our happiness is based on things we don’t need and governed by entities we don’t control, so what? Sit down and turn on the tv! This video shows a dumb homogeneous atmosphere in which we’re defined by what we’ve got, that is, the same lame things.
Don’t take the message too seriously. This is a promo video we’ve done to laugh at ourselves. We all have an i-diot inside, and it’s so fun!
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Intended to serve as a stop-motion camera for the torrent of information we get from social media, Storify allows the user to arrange pieces of conversations to construct a narrative. When we first began teaching with Twitter, we wanted to contain conversations that would eventually evaporate. Twitter allows us to go back through someone’s stream to see everything, but the simple organization that a hashtag brings to an organic conversation has about a two-week window. If we start a back-channel conversation in a lecture one day, Twitter requires that we look at it, learn from it, and let it go soon after. Storify emerged on the scene last year to cull these kinds of social media contributions (not just on Twitter) and freeze them.
Google has continued to develop its office suite since then, of course, and an increasing number of educational institutions (including my own) have adopted it. I’ve continued to refine my own uses of the suite, and still use it extensively in my writing classroom. A new practice I’ve begun this year (and why I didn’t think to do it earlier, I don’t know) is to use Google Forms to create a centralized record of my comments on each student’s essays.
Google Docs is a free Web-based word processing program. Although the name says “Docs,” you aren’t limited to just text-based documents with the occasional image thrown in for good measure. With Google “Docs” (and a Google Account) anyone can create or import spreadsheets and presentations in addition to documents. Once you have created or imported a document, spreadsheet or presentation, you can edit it, save it, export it, and print it to your heart’s content. More importantly for my purposes in the classroom, these documents can be shared with collaborators.
With the end of the semester approaching, many teachers are focusing on ways to assess student work. For classes with multiple projects, portfolios help consolidate assignments into a neat and cohesive package that can be treated as a single product of a semester (or year, or institutional career). Web-based portfolio solutions include LMS-integrated setups, third-party products, generic website-creation tools, and even homegrown solutions developed by institutions. Each has features that allow students to collect, store, assess, and publish their work, but each also has a degree of complexity or a strong learning curve.
Instructors teaching research methods, especially undergraduate writing courses that focus on researched arguments, should use various web-based interactive applications, usually referred to as Web 2.0 technologies, throughout the research process. Using these technologies helps students learn various 21st Century technology and media literacies as well as promote diverse student learning methods and active learning pedagogies. The article provides examples of different type of web-based applications that might be used throughout the research process and then ends with a discussion of logistical concerns like student access and privacy rights.
This series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, in order to guide teachers and policy makers in productive innovation. This second report proposes ten innovations that are already in currency but have not yet had a profound influence on education.
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