Skip to main content

Workshop: Language, Culture, and Community - Online and Face-to-Face

February 3, 2011 by Doug Worsham

Workshop: Language, Culture, and Community - Online and Face-to-Face

Margaret Merrill, our Learning Technology Teaching Assistant, recently facilitated a lively and stimulating conversation with Italian 102-204 instructors on best practices for integrating online communication in their face-to-face language classes.

This semester, these instructors are continuing their pilot of the L&S Collaborative Sites platform in which students frequently post short writing assignments and quick FaceBook-like status updates, all in Italian, and often supplemented by photos and videos from Italy.

Margaret's discussion with the instructors led to a number of insights that are useful for any instructor using online communication tools in a face-to-face class. Here are some of the key insights and take-aways:

  • Integrate Online and Face-to-Face: Student conversations that happen online can provide great material for warm-up activities and follow-up conversations in class. Similarly, an in-class introduction to a topic or theme can provide the perfect spark for research, writing, and discussion online. Instructors in the workshop discussed a number of creative ways to mix online and face-to-face tasks, from using an in-class YouTube video to prompt an out-of-class search for other examples, to starting class off with a pair discussion about status updates students have read and posted recently online.
  • Share Culture through Online Media: One strength of the online environment, according to the instructors, was the opportunity to give students addtional access to culture through media and other internet resources. Since they have limited time to share these types of materials in class, the instructors use Collaborative Sites to share culturally rich materials with their students. They reported that tasks involving Italian language commercials, music videos, and sitcoms were all very popular with students.
  • Engage Students in Cross-cultural Comparisons: Instructors reported that their students got really engaged in activities that involved cross-cultural comparisons between US and Italian culture. The ability to easily share and discuss their favorite
    Italian language YouTube videos helped instructors create a wide variety
    of tasks related to cultural learning and cross-cultural comparisons.
  • Meaningful Community Building: Carefully planned out-of-class and online activities can help students see language learning as a vehicle for personally meaningful communication within their classroom community and beyond. For example, posting personal status updates allows students to communicate with each other about their interests and activities, effectively turning "homework" and "practice" into opportunities to connect with each other - in a new language!

Want to set up something similar in your class? Do you have other ideas for integrating online and face-to-face activities? Let us know in the comments, or contact one of our consultants!

Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes