Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning Workshop on Technological Models for Hybrid and Distance Collaborations

The Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning was established to enhance the quality of language teaching and learning on its member campuses, to consolidate and build upon the strengths of the members’ programs, to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for future careers in international scholarship, business, and diplomacy, and to reaffirm and demonstrate the central importance of the study of foreign languages.

The Yale Center for Language Study was honored to host a workshop on Exploring Pedagogical and Technological Models for Hybrid and Distance Collaborations, held from May 25-28, 2010. The workshop was funded with support from the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning, the Center for Language Study and five area councils at the MacMillan Center: the Council for East Asian Studies, the Council for Latin American and Iberian Studies, the Middle East Council, the Council for European Studies, the Council for African Studies.

What follows are abstracts of workshop presentations accompanied by links to videos of the presentations as well as other pertinent resources.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Plenary Session No. 1 – Collaborative Publishing: the Future of the Textbook
Carl Blyth, University of Texas at Austin

Carl Blyth proposed that the Open Education paradigm was rapidly changing the ecology of academic publishing and, as a consequence, raising numerous questions: How can universities improve on the current model of educational publishing controlled by commercial interests? Do open educational resources (OERs) require different design criteria? How can we assure quality control in the chaotic world of Open Education? In an attempt to answer these questions, he focused on the Texas Language Technology Center’s recent FIPSE grant that sought to establish a collaborative publishing group among foreign language educators at four Texas institutions: University of Texas at Austin, Rice University, Texas Christian University and Lone Star Community College. He then summarized and discussed preliminary results of the grant, currently in its first year.

Link to Video: (Includes welcome and introductory remarks by Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl and accompanying PowerPoint at

Plenary Session No. 2 – Reaching Across the Distance: A Model for Learning Critical Languages
Lauren Rosen, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Lauren Rosen introduced participants to content adaptation and technology integration in the development of a blended (hybrid) language course model. She suggested that strong pedagogical skills were key to students’ success, since a good teacher could always learn technological skills. She discussed 13 years of distance learning in the University of Wisconsin system, where teachers taught courses with some students in front of them and with one or two remote classrooms staffed with native-speaking facilitators. She explained how students wrote on mini-whiteboards that were then placed on document cameras. Instructors were asked to visit remote sites twice per semester and to use wikis to feel more connected with students, as well as Doodle and Voice Thread to generate classroom discussion. Teachers also used Talk Box, a video conferencing tool, for oral assessment and for office hours. She noted that students, instructors and facilitators were surveyed mid-semester in order to have an opportunity to implement necessary changes.

Link to PowerPoint presentation:
Link to Video:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Plenary Session No. 3 – e-Textbooks for Language Instruction: Hype and Hypertext
Eduardo Lage-Otero, Trinity College

Eduardo Lage-Otero explained that textbook publishers were expanding their digital offerings by developing dynamic web portals that integrated textbooks, workbooks, and all ancillary materials into a convenient package for instructors and students. As these tools rapidly evolved, he noted that they raised numerous questions for language instruction: What are the practical and pedagogical implications of the switch to an all-digital textbook? Do we need to reconsider how we teach foreign languages (e.g., hybrid models)? Are we asking publishers the right questions about e-Textbooks? He then provided an overview of recent developments in language e-textbooks and offered some preliminary answers.

Link to PowerPoint presentation:

Link to Video:

Consortium Showcase: Models and Examples

Developing a Distance Learning Course for New Literacies
Ed Dixon, University of Pennsylvania

Ed Dixon opined that teachers were creatures of habit, and that the goal was to break them away from old habits. He then discussed his new distance German class using blogs, wikis and chats to help students participate in social networks. The course stresses interacting on the web with native speakers and uses computers to promote the globalization process. The goal is to achieve collaboration and social assimilation while making distance students feel like part of a group. Authentic materials, which are now more accessible through the internet, are to be substituted for a textbook.

Link to Video:

From Jerusalem to Yale: Introduction to Ugaritic
John Graves, Yale University

John Graves took participants on a journey through the development of a distance course in   Ugaritic, an ancient language discovered in Syria that is important for Old Testament research. He explained that a Yale instructor had begun a course in Ugaritic at Yale, but then had to continue the course on a distance basis when he relocated to Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He traced the process of training the instructor to conduct the class at a distance, configuring hardware and web-conferencing software, arranging a dry run of the class while the instructor was still at Yale, coordinating the class using Adobe Connect Pro and troubleshooting various problems that arose during class time. He also offered tips and pointers for conducting an effective distance class.

Link to Video:

Plenary Session No. 4 – Classrooms in the Cloud: Using Adobe Connect to Expand the Learning Environment
Mark Heckel, The Pennsylvania State University

Mark Heckel’s  presentation focused on the nuts and bolts of using Adobe Connect Pro, as well as some advantages (such as requiring limited hardware) and disadvantages (such as problems with connectivity and audio quality). He recognized the importance of adapting technology to teaching style, and not vice versa, in an environment heading toward students learning by themselves asynchronously on their own schedule. He considered ease of use and sharing of files, documents and other content, as well as design and use considerations such as keeping sessions under two hours, use of mixed media to maintain interest, effective use of breakout rooms, preparing sufficient materials for each class and arriving early to resolve any technical problems. He advised attendees to be prepared to learn from their mistakes.

Link to Video:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Plenary Session No. 5 – Designing Effective Collaborative CALL Models at Home and Abroad: Arabic without Walls and the Tunis Program
Sonia Shiri, University of California, Berkeley

Sonia Shiri focused on the experience of creating the Arabic without Walls program in the University of California system and the use of technology to make collaborative learning happen. She explained that the program began in 2003 with a FIPSE grant for distance learning. The course combines a textbook with additional supplemental materials, such as chats, exercises for more difficult grammar points, interviews with native speakers of Arabic, thematically organized content-based cultural materials, introduction to content-based typing programs, communication with students through tools like Wimba and wikis and creation of skits for posting on You Tube. She also discussed how distance courses allowed use of existing resources to go beyond on-campus introductory level courses to reach more advanced proficiency levels. She concluded with a discussion of expanding use of Arabic without Walls to a study abroad program in Tunis using computer assisted language learning (CALL) for pre-departure preparation, to increase student productivity, to increase student responsibility for learning and to  alleviate student anxiety.

Link to Video:

Consortium Showcase:

Videoconferencing: Shared Courses by Cornell with Syracuse
Dick Feldman, Cornell University

Dick Feldman demonstrated use of video conferencing for synchronous distance learning of languages. He focused on the importance of computer assisted learning in language courses, recognizing that video conferencing, while possibly more expensive than other distance-learning models, required less preparation and adaptation than other models. He offered a demonstration of a Bengali class showing use of a whiteboard, use of camera pre-sets, interaction with distance students, a display of materials through a document camera and use of role play skits. He then discussed different types of video conferencing equipment and demonstrated multi-point capability.

Link to Video:

Chinese/English Tele-Collaboration
Anthony Helm, Dartmouth College

Anthony Helm offered a presentation of the video interaction-based education (VIBE) program pairing students at Dartmouth with tutors at a university in Beijing, China. He observed that this program was less expensive than other distance learning models, using laptops with video capability, while comparing favorably to video conferencing. This desktop model used iChat software with MAC computers and a Jabber server, providing a consistent platform for optimum synchronization between what is seen and heard. He also discussed troubleshooting of technology problems, providing training to Chinese tutors, developing more task-based activities complementing what takes place in the classroom and coordinating schedules to accommodate differences in time zones.

Link to Video:

Concurrent Technology Training Sessions:

Collaborative and Independent Learning Tools – Karen Asenavage

An Overview of Technology Tools – Trip Kirkpatrick

Photos from the Workshop Dinner
Workshop Attendees at Sitar Catherine Baumann and Dick Feldman at Sitar Martin Kane, John Graves, and Maria Kosinski at SitarWorkshop Attendees at SitarSeungja Choi and Angela Lee-Smith at SitarWorkshop Attendees at Sitar

Photos courtesy Ame Cividanes

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