January 17, 2011

The Web of Babel: Twitter and iTunes University Are among Tools College Language Teachers Use

From http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/01/11/college_professors_use_social_media_such_as_twitter_and_itunes_to_teach_students_foreign_language

Some adventurous professors have used Twitter as a teaching tool for at least a few years. At a presentation at Educause in 2009, W. Gardner Campbell, director of the academy of teaching and learning at Baylor University, extolled the virtues of allowing students to pose questions to the professor and each other — an important part of the thinking and learning process — without having to raise their hands to do so immediately and aloud. And in November, a group of professors published a scientific paper suggesting that bringing Twitter into the learning process might boost student engagement and performance.

In fall 2009, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced it was moving all its introductory Spanish courses online, sparking a debate about where the line should be as far as using the Web to teach language. And Middlebury College raised some eyebrows last spring when it announced it was building an online-only spin-off of the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy, its highly touted summer language immersion program.

Language content makes up about 95 percent of the downloads from the Emory iTunes U site. A podcast called “Chinese Beyond Emory” gets downloaded thousands of times per week. Ditto instructional videos on Arabic and Kanji Japanese penmanship. Even lessons in Cherokee, a language whose speaking population might not exceed the number of students enrolled at Emory, are downloaded at a rate of several hundred per week, Emory officials say.

Read the full article at http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2011/01/11/college_professors_use_social_media_such_as_twitter_and_itunes_to_teach_students_foreign_language

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