GEOCGRANTMCLFinal - uconnblendedlearning

Provost’s General Education Course Development Grant Proposal
February 29, 2008
Norma Bouchard
Associate Professor of Italian
Department of Modern & Classical Languages
Barbara Lindsey
Director, Multimedia Language Center
Department of Modern & Classical Languages
Course Title: Cross-Campus Foreign Language Courses: A Blended Learning Approach
Sponsoring Departments and Programs: Modern & Classical Languages (Storrs), Vice-Provosts Michael Menard
(Torrington), Michael Ego (Stamford), David Williams (Greater Hartford), and William Pizzuto (Waterbury)
Project Description: Utilizing a combination of live, interactive television with video conferencing
( and web-based social networking tools, this initiative seeks to provide UCONN
students on all campuses expanded opportunities to achieve linguistic and cultural competencies in western and nonwestern languages through a carefully structured and methodologically situated blended learning environment.
Course Design and Methodology: We propose to create a blended learning course template for use in multiple-site
delivery of language courses in western and non-western languages for two levels (Elementary I and II—first year).
In year one a team comprised of our Chinese instructor, Charlie Pei, an Italian graduate student (who will teach the
course) and the Director of our Multimedia Language Center (MLC) will focus on levels one and two of Chinese
and Italian. In year two a team comprised of our Arabic instructor, Maha Darawsha, a French graduate student (who
will teach the course) and the Director of the MLC will focus on levels one and two of Arabic and French. Our
department head, Professor Bouchard, will provide oversight and guidance.
According to Garrison and Vaughan, ‘blended learning is the thoughtful fusion of face-to-face and online learning
experiences” (Blended Learning in Higher Education, 2008, p. 5). When grounded within the framework of the
Community of Inquiry (CoI), blended learning capitalizes on the role that interaction, collaboration and discourse
play in constructing knowledge—especially among NetGeners and Neomillennials (Oblinger, D. & Oblinger, J,
Educating the Net Generation, 2005)— while concomitantly increasing student engagement and student
responsibility for learning (Dziuban, Moskal, & Hartman, 2006; Howe & Stauss, 2000; Garrison & Vaughan, 2008).
Our blended learning course template takes advantage of face-to-face and online learning by making deft use of
interactive television and free, collaborative web-based technologies (e.g., Skype [Internet telephony], Voicethread
[collaborative multimedia projects], [social bookmarking], WiZiQ [interactive, live, recordable online
teaching], wikis [collaborative content creation], blogs [online journal entries], Google Docs [collaborative writing],
podcasts, YouTube) to bring together in a single learning environment students separated by geographical distance.
Two hour a week interactive television will provide students the necessary face-to-face and personal interaction
between teacher and students essential to a successful language class while more flexible interactive online activities
will offer collaborative learning experiences for students across all campuses. These blended courses will utilize a
student-centered, task-based, skill-getting, skill-using instructional approach to include paired and group projects
and activities, virtual office hours, access to authentic materials and both synchronous and asynchronous interaction
with native speakers. Students will be able to apply their linguistic and cultural knowledge through the creation of
multimedia projects that incorporate text, audio, pictures, and video, which they will then be able to organize in an
e-portfolio, allowing us to document individual and programmatic progress over time. Students will need regular
access to a computer with Internet access (broadband preferred), a microphone and headset.
Student Learning Outcomes: At the end of each course students will be able to:
1. Communicate clearly and appropriately in the target language using written, spoken, visual and computermediated formats that are culturally and linguistically appropriate for the level of instruction
2. Participate successfully in online group activities by using technology to build relationships to support
group effectiveness
3. Demonstrate awareness of and respect for the diversity of human cultures, perspectives and languages
4. Demonstrate ability for self-directed, life-long learning
 Self and peer assessments (e.g., I/my partner can do checklists such as those used in the European
Language Portfolio
 Recorded oral and written communications with classmates, instructor and native speakers (e.g., blogs,
Skype, Google Docs)
 In-class communicative activities (e.g., skits, role play, interviews, information gap activities, paired/whole
group activities)
 Student multimedia projects (e.g., Voicethread, Spresent)
 Eportfolio of activities, assignments, and progress towards linguistic and intercultural competencies
 Computer-mediated proficiency tests to support the ongoing assessment of students’ acquisition of discreet
and global linguistic and cultural skills.
Students will also have a mid-semester and end of semester opportunity to complete an anonymous, web-based
survey that seeks to gather feedback on all aspects of the course for current and future remediation.
Relation to General Education Requirements: First and foremost, these courses support all eight of the
overarching general education goals (GenEd Guidelines, p. 8 [GEG]). Blended foreign language courses also meet a
number of UCONN’s specific general education goals and core competencies. Language courses provide a unique
insight into the perceptions, beliefs, and values of a linguistic group, thereby facilitating students’ ability to
“understand, appreciate, and function in cultures other than their own” (GEG, p. 12), to “participate more fully in the
rich diversity of human languages and cultures” (GEG, p. 9), while enabling “students to analyze and understand
interactions of the numerous social factors that influence behavior at the individual, cultural, societal, national, or
international level” (GEG, p. 10). Our course format provides a “general understanding of and competency in
information development, access, evaluation and integration” (GEG, p. 14) and will prepare “students for the
increasingly multilingual challenges of the marketplaces of goods and ideas and for participation in local, regional
and global affairs. It is thus an integral component of both liberal and practical education that contributes to students'
articulateness in the second language and in their native language as well as to their consciousness of the diversity of
human cultures and languages” (GEG, p. 18). These blended courses also support three of the four principles
mandated by the General Education Guidelines, namely universality, accessibility, and transferability. Our proposed
courses are designed to allow all students—regardless of the geographical location of their campuses—to have
universal and equal access to a range of language offerings that to date remains very limited. Moreover, since
blended courses allow all students to register, these offerings also fulfill the criterion of transferability in that they
guarantee that the same academic standards for language offerings are followed across the entire UCONN system.
Course Uniqueness: This proposal seeks to support not only UCONN’s global citizen initiative, (pp. 9-16) but
President Michael J. Hogan’s recently enumerated goals that “students gain experience working in cross-disciplinary
team environments (UCONN Advance, January 22, 2008) and that we view our regional campuses as part of our
one university identity UCONN Advance , October 1, 2007. A blended learning approach to language learning is not
only particularly suited to our tech-savvy 21st century learners who cannot recall a time before the World Wide Web,
YouTube, and other technological innovations, but is most needed to expand the pool of foreign language offerings
to all UCONN campuses. Indeed, whereas courses in Spanish have historically been available at Avery Point,
Torrington, Stamford, Greater Hartford, and Waterbury, offerings in French, German, Italian, Arabic, and Chinese
have been restricted to Storrs-based students only. While a number of attempts have been made to introduce other
foreign language offerings to the regional campuses, staffing challenges for languages other than Spanish and low
enrollments in Intermediate I and II offerings have prevented these courses from becoming a permanent addition to
the available curriculum. On the one hand, recruitment of competent instructors is difficult, especially for languages
such as Chinese and Arabic. On the other hand, the ability to introduce and offer a variety of Elementary I and II
foreign language courses has been impaired by low enrollments in a time of limited resources. Blended courses
would answer both challenges. We would solve staffing challenges by taking advantage of faculty resources that
already exist in our department on the Storrs campus. Multi-campus participation would address the issue of low
student enrollment since student participation from all campuses would likely result in a total capacity of 20 students
per course regardless of the level of instruction or physical site. The success of these courses would serve as a model
for cross-campus language, literature and culture courses, particularly in languages deemed vital to U.S. economic
and security interests, such as Arabic and Chinese, provide students with the experience and skills to successfully
complete courses using a similar approach and prepare them to successfully communicate and collaborate in global
team environments.