The University of Hawaiʻi and the UH NFLRC have a strong commitment to and significant experience in distance-education-delivered foreign language instruction. In the 1996-1999 funding cycle, the UH NFLRC conducted distance education projects in Mandarin Chinese, Filipino, Ilokano, Korean, and Russian. Distance education projects at UH have had varied delivery formats but in the last cycle focused for the most part on interactive television (ITV) courses featuring integrated instructional support ranging from Internet/WorldWideWeb (WWW) and CD-ROM technologies to traditional video and self-instructional/self-correcting texts. In the 1996-1999 funding cycle, the UH NFLRC projects were enhanced by a complementary grant from NSEP (National Security Education Program) entitled, “Distance Education in Critical Languages: A Model in Mandarin Chinese.” The NSEP grant facilitated the creation of a two-year (four semester) distance-education course sequence in Mandarin Chinese delivered over interactive television (ITV) and culminated with the 1997 Summer Institute, “Foreign Language Instruction via Distance Education,” which was jointly sponsored by NFLRC/NSEP.
Starting in Fall 1999, the University of Hawaiʻi will undertake a second NSEP-funded project, “Disseminating Technology-based Models for Distance Education in Critical Languages” to conduct national training in pedagogically effective methodologies for distance education and to create a model for Web-based course delivery via the development and delivery of inter-institutional upper-division Chinese language courses. The support from NSEP will enable the University of Hawaiʻi NFLRC to develop and conduct two distinct prototype offerings of Chinese 399 (Directed Third Level Reading) for mainland US institutions and UH system campuses over a two-year period. To maximize the impact of its efforts and disseminate new knowledge to the profession, the University of Hawaiʻi is again proposing a co-sponsored NFLRC/NSEP Summer Institute on Distance Education in 2001. This 2001 UH NFLRC Summer Institute on Distance Education will feature a workshop, a symposium, and a multi-site videoconference and will serve as a national forum for UH to report on its distance education initiatives and for others active in distance-education-delivered language instruction to report on their initiatives. In addition to dissemination via a Summer Institute, the UH NFLRC will further broaden the scope of dissemination via its distance education Web site which serves as a constantly updated source of information on state-of-the-art, technology-based, language pedagogy, showcasing content from ITV-based teacher training workshops and elucidating models for Web-based LCTL instruction. The Web site will provide an interactive forum wherein distance educators in critical languages from across the country will be able to share needs and concerns and seek helping partners, thus stimulating professional involvement in distance education nationwide.