In French 333, an advanced course in French grammar, students create a blog centered around four very different French newspapers that they access online : Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, and Le Parisien. Each week, they create entries in French describing what they have read and their reactions ; they must also comment on other students’ entries. They are also encouraged to write about their impressions of the papers’ websites and content. In a voiceboard towards the end of the semester, they reflect on which of the four newspapers they prefer, and why ; their final written assignment examines how an event, person, or story is treated differently in three of the four papers. The blog has given them the opportunity not only to read a wide variety of articles in French, but also to begin to appreciate the different roles played by each French newspaper in contemporary French society.
In all of my graduate courses (e.g., Ling 483, Ger 487) I use technology applications in Blackboard to enhance class discussions. In order to ensure that students have a reference for the new concepts and terminology introduced in class, I create a wiki that lists the concepts and references the reading it was mentioned in or I provide a definition. For some of the topics students are responsible to create the concept entries themselves. In order to jumpstart class discussion students share their first reflections about the readings either by responding to a discussion question on the a discussion board, posting their questions about the reading on a blog, or respond with a voice recording about a specific text passage on voice board or voice presentation tools. Beyond Blackboard we use Weebly, Voxopop and Wikispaces. Varying the technology makes the assignments more interesting and at the same time gives the graduate students opportunities to learn about the technologies from a student perspective.
Integrating skills, bridging the gap between language and literature and ensuring vertical coherence throughout the Italian program is one of my goals when teaching advanced literature and culture courses (300 level). Technology enhances my teaching and supports students’ different learning styles. I use video segments (films, documentaries) to stimulate discussion and illustrate the historical context of our readings. I encourage an interdisciplinary approach to Italian culture through the collaborative analysis of music (Opera, popular music) and other artistic products. In order to prepare for class discussion and practice oral skills, students post Voiceboard comments on the material assigned. Blogs offer a forum where students practice fluency in writing and respond personally to the topics discussed, continuing interaction outside of class. In Italian 293 (Dante’s Divine Comedy), students worked collaboratively on their wikis, to investigate Italian Medieval history, art and literature, thus expanding their understanding of Dante’s interdisciplinarity and intertextuality.
I am using the Voice Presentation tool in Blackboard in my Linguistics 150 (Introduction to Language) course to help students learn about linguistic diversity. It allows me to bring web-based resources (in this case, a program from NPR) right into Blackboard, but also allows students to interact with these resources and with one another. Students learn about the linguistic features that are typical of Chicago accents and then record and analyze the features of their own accents.
Each semester I do a wiki project with the students in my Russian culture classes. The wiki, which is a collaboratively constructed website, models through form and demonstrates through content the interconnectedness of culture as a social concept. Hyperlinks are an excellent way for students to visualize this interconnectedness. Over the years I have experimented with different organizing principles and learning objectives. This spring in Russian 116 (Russian Culture: The Soviet Period) I am using the wiki to emphasize the centrality of communal life and the primacy of the collective in Soviet culture by taking advantage of the collaborative aspects of the medium. The students in the class are virtual residents of a building in Leningrad that was converted into communal apartments after the Bolshevik Revolution. There are four main learning objectives for this wiki project. First, each student will learn deeply about one historical figure, whose identity s/he will use for the duration of the wiki project. Each student will create an individual wiki page to present his/her research about his/her historical figure (the roster of figures includes politicians, artists, architects, writers, performers, filmmakers and engineers). Second, the students will learn about the experience of communal living, including how the communal spaces looked and functioned within the daily life of Russians. Third, students will experience in very muted form the psychological terror of those who lived through the Stalinist Purges via a game of exile to Siberia (with potential for rehabilitation). Finally, the game requires students to read each other’s wiki pages to learn about the all historical personae living in their building. This multi-phased approach to the wiki enables the class to continue enhancing it and learning from it over the course of the semester instead of the assignment being discrete and singularly finalizable.
We provide learning opportunities to instructors. Click the “Workshops” link to see our drop-in hours and locations, and our scheduled training topics. Come find out how we can help you with similar or brand new interesting projects for your students!