Apr 20 2012
FLL F2F vs. OL
For me, one of the biggest differences in taking part in Foreign Language Learning (FLL) online vs. F2F is really the move that the instructor must make from “sage on the stage” in F2F to “guide on the side” (a quote from one of my grad school profs). In my view, my job is to provide students with the tools necessary to build knowledge and solve issues on their own, rather than simply conveying information to them. This is a helpful exercise for any FLL instructor, as it becomes more an more the model that students need to be able to develop skills on their own in any classroom setting.
Thus, to me, F2F and online classrooms should not be that different. Ideally, for a foreign language instructor, experience in both settings should inform teaching and materials development in such a way that brings the best of both worlds to all students. Here are some priorities that I have tried to follow:
1) Online and on-campus FLL courses should function in parallel.
2) Online students should be provided with enough contact to supplement time spent in class for live use of the target language.
3) All students should be able to use technology to reach out to the target community in a way that is useful and enjoyable for the student.
What this ends up meaning is that my courses should be similar in everything but physical setting, and that students should be able to move seamlessly from on-campus to Ecampus and back. For the instructor, it means innovating in the realm of online tools as well as in developing contacts within the target community that the students can access. On a more complicated note, it is also important for the instructor to be aware of laws and regulations regarding student privacy (e.g. FERPA), so that the students’ online experiences are both engaging and safe.