Technology and the Human Factor in Foreign Language Education

While previous NFLRC Summer Institutes had focused on language-specific pedagogy and materials development, the 1995 NFLRC Summer Institute took a technological turn. Technology and the Human Factor in Foreign Language Education was a two-tiered institute, offering both a series of intensive workshops in educational technology and an electronic networking symposium. Trainers and guest presenters in the Video, Multimedia, CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) and Pre-symposium workshops provided hands-on instruction to small (20) groups of foreign language educators. Nearly half of the 75 participants in the week-long Symposium on Local and Global Electronic Networking in Foreign Language Learning & Research joined forces to present papers, conduct hands-on workshops, and facilitate discussion sessions. Although the workshops and symposium differed in scope and format, they all provided a forum by which educators could not only acquire and share resources, information, and ideas about current (and predicted) trends in technology for foreign language education but also had the opportunity to establish/maintain structures for communication and collaboration so that nationally coordinated work in specific areas of interest could continue beyond the Summer Institute.

WORKSHOP - June 26-30, 1995: Video Workshop

This workshop was a pedagogical, aesthetic, and technical introduction to video production in foreign language learning and teaching. Through a number of hands-on and experiential lessons as well as final group projects, participants learned the fundamental concepts and techniques of project development, audio and visual composition, and video editing. Considering a range of project types, from a single camera in the classroom to an on-location production with crew, various pedagogical approaches to enrich the students learning experience were examined. Special presentations by fellow NFLRC scholars from the mainland, a tour of the production studio, and visual thinking exercises in true paradise illustrated the potential and possibilities of this medium in foreign language instruction.
Specific topics covered included:

  • Camera and tripod operation
  • Storyboarding and scripting
  • Pedagogical approaches for language instruction and learning
  • Picture composition and staging ¥ Light and sound
  • Sequencing and editing
  • The interview, documentary, and montage opportunities for project oriented language instructors


In this workshop, the following points were covered:

  • Introduction to electronic mail and file transfer using the pine mailing system and unix
  • Using the Internet for communication via listserv mailing lists and USENET newsgroups
  • Introduction to Internet tools including gopher, FTP, telnet, and World Wide Web
  • As time permitted, an introduction to real time communication via IRC and MOOs.

These sessions were designed to bring participants up to par on basic and intermediate Internet skills for the following week's Networking Symposium.

SYMPOSIUM - July 10-14, 1995: Networking Symposium: Local & Global Electronic Networking in Foreign Language Learning & Research Advances in computer technology have created remarkable new ways to connect language learners - whether in a single classroom or across the globe. This symposium sought to facilitate the sharing of resources, ideas, and information about all aspects of electronic networking for foreign language teaching and research, including electronic discussion and conferencing, international cultural exchanges, real-time communication and simulations, resource retrieval via the Internet, and research using networks. It also had the goal of helping build ongoing structures for communication and collaboration so that nationally coordinate