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As the American educator Stephen Covey once said: “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going so that you better understand where you are now so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”
These words refer to the careful planning of any instructional unit and the definition of its objectives and learning outcomes. As such, they indirectly address the selection of the material, its presentation, and its assessment, even the pre-assessment of students’ knowledge. Differently put, Covey’s words refer to the “what,” “when,” “how,” independent of the delivery mode – in person or online.
This conference presentation will be structured around the “what,” “when,” and “how” in the online environment. It shall present a variety of technological tools beneficial to keep students’ attention and to maintain their engagement with the material, each other, as well as with the teacher. In addition, it shall outline learning strategies and activities that—as E. R. Clark suggests—draws “students into an inquiry” about the material, facilitates exploration and collaboration, and allows for self-reflective learning to occur.
Despite being applicable to courses taught at any level and independent of any discipline, this presentation will be based on research conducted in a French language acquisition class. The efficient use of apps like Google Jamboard, Google docs, Edpuzzle, Discussion forums, and BookCreator was highly motivating and beneficial for students of this “Advanced French through Media” class, as they facilitated student’s attention to and retention of the material. Student learning was closely linked to the following four points:
a) Students’ “use of the target language in real-life situations” (see Clementi 22) thanks to authentic resources in written, auditory, and visual format;
b) Students’ engagement with the selected material, each other, and the teacher in and outside of the classroom through tasks built around discovery, discussion, peer tutoring, reflection, and problem solving;
c) Students’ resulting “sense of self-efficacy and their expectations for success” combined with ongoing feedback (Clark 115);
d) An all-inclusive, motivating, and collaborative classroom atmosphere giving every student a voice.
For the teacher, the inclusion of these various apps throughout the semester allowed for a differentiated and progression-oriented approach to foreign language instruction and assessment of students’ four language skills, three modes of communication, and their 21st century skillset (including critical thinking, problem solving, reflection, self-discipline, collaboration, global awareness, etc.) all the while considering and respecting learners’ individual intelligences and learning styles.
Data retrieved from student evaluations of the respective tools suggest that they highly valued the use of these tools as they offered them the opportunity “to make connections and to expand their own learning opportunities” (Theisen 7), provided them with continuous feedback while doing so from their fellow students and teacher, and most importantly, gave them the opportunity to find and articulate their own voice during as well as after class.
Bertocchini, P., & Costanzo, E. (2013). “La notion de grammaire.” Français dans le monde, 389 (septembre-octobre), 28-29.
Boiron, M. (2012). “Renouveler la pédagogie du français avec les médias.” Français dans le monde, 381 (mai-juin), 36-37.
Brown, H. D. (2007). Principles of language learning and teaching. New York, NY: Pearson
Clark, R. E. (2017). “Motivating Elements. Course Policies, Communications, Assessments, and More.” In L. B. Nilson and L. A. Goodson (Eds.), Online Teaching at Its Best: Merging Instructional Design with Teaching and Learning Research (pp. 107-130), John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Nilson and L. A. Goodson, (2017) editors. “Developing Interactivity, Social Connections, and Community.” In L. B. Nilson and L. A. Goodson (Eds.), Online Teaching at Its Best: Merging Instructional Design with Teaching and Learning Research (pp. 131-165), John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Clementi, D., & Terrill, L. (2013). The keys to planning for learning: Effective curriculum, unit, and lesson design. Alexandria, VA: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.
O’Dowd, R., & Lewis, T. (2016), editors. Online Intercultural Exchange. Policy, Pedagogy, Practice. New York: Routledge.
Morris, O.P. (2016). “Web-based Technologies for Ensuring Interaction in Online Courses: Faculty Choice and Student Perception of Web-Based Technologies for Interaction in Online Economics.” In L. Kyei-Blankson, J. Blankson, E. Ntuli, & C. Agyeman (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Strategic Management of Interaction, Presence, and Participation in Online Courses (pp. 244-279). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Nilson, L. B. (2013). Creating Self-Regulated Learners: Strategies to Strengthen Students’ Self-Awareness and Learning Skills. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Ravazzolo, E., Traverso, V., & Jouin, É (2016). “Travailler l’oral en interaction.” Français dans le monde, 406 (juillet-août), 40-41.
Reuber, A. (2015). Creating personalized learning opportunities in the foreign language classroom: Integration of online resources into the language learning process. The International Journal of Communication and Linguistics, 13(3), 61-80.
Ross, J. and Gallagher, M. S., & Macleod, H. (2013). “Making Distance Visible: Assembling Nearness in an Online Distance Learning Program. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 17 (3), 51-65.
Terrell, T. D. (1991). The role of grammar instruction in a communicative approach. The Modern Language Journal, 75(1), 52-63.
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