Foreign Language Instruction via Distance Education

WORKSHOP - July 7-18, 1997: "Tools and Techniques for Foreign Language Instruction via Interactive Television"

This two-week workshop trained educators preparing to teach foreign language on interactive television (ITV) or via videoconferencing, with a focus on enabling participants to take full advantage of the media available to them for distance education. Educators returned to their institutions better prepared to deal with the special demands the ITV medium makes on both teachers and students. Hands-on learning activities in the studios of the Hawaiʻi Interactive Television System (HITS) and in the multimedia computer lab included:

  • presentations and learning activities targeting mastery of ITV and related media integrated with sound pedagogic principles
  • critical observation of an ongoing summer Chinese language course taught daily on HITS, of which this course is a continuation
  • experience as a "student" in a language mini-course modeling effective integration of sound pedagogic practices into the ITV medium
  • lab time for planning and preparation of model language teaching units slated for future delivery at participant's home institution
  • delivery of prepared units over ITV to fellow participants, followed by peer feedback

The goal of these activities was to teach participants:

  • technical basics of working in the ITV medium
  • strategies for course creation and effective administration, including inter-site communication
  • how to implement sound pedagogical principles within the limitations of the medium
  • how to integrate email, the World Wide Web, and multimedia into foreign language distance learning courses

The workshop concluded with a mini-conference: Technology in the Service of Pedagogy: a Foreign Language Distance Education Symposium, with presentations from Hawaiʻi and from Michigan State University and the University of Minnesota, linked to the University of Hawaiʻi via videoconferencing technology. Stephen Fleming's presentation from Hawaiʻi, "Bridging Gaps with Technology in the ITV Classroom," is available as a videotape in the NFLRC Talking Heads video series.

The workshop also figured importantly in the development of a website treating the use of ITV technology for foreign language education. The workshop was a pleasure to take part in, due to the enthusiasm and good humor of the participants. Participants and instructors alike came away with a better grasp on techniques for effective foreign language instruction in the ITV medium.

WORKSHOP - July 21-August 1, 1997: "Tools and Techniques for Web-Based Multimedia Instruction"

This workshop investigated the use of the World Wide Web as a tool in distance education, and included the following elements:

  • a survey of existing World Wide Web-based multimedia language instruction sites
  • an overview of software tools used for courseware development, and hands-on experience with some of the most important applications
  • an introduction to Website creation and management
  • an overview of pedagogical considerations and technical procedures for an introduction to Website creation and management
  • an overview of pedagogical considerations and technical procedures for launching a Web-delivered course
  • materials development featuring an integrated CD-ROM and Web delivery format, and
  • demonstrations of Web-based conferencing systems.