Language learning from a distance can be difficult for many students. The transactional distance native to online learning causes students to lose the personal, visual, timely feedback they typically receive in an on-campus language class. Knowing how important an instructor’s guidance and timely feedback can be to a student gaining competency with a language, we used basic tablet technology to create new online videos. These online videos employ narrative cognitive modeling and allow online students to learn a language as though the professor is personally guiding them through a language (Svinicki, 2004). As we implemented these new online videos in a language course, we discovered improvement in student learning outcomes and drastic increases in faculty and student satisfaction with the online course.
Learning a language, especially from a distance, can be difficult for many students. This difficulty is heightened when the technology used to deliver the content hinders rather than promotes engagement with the instructor.
At SBTS we took our Koine Greek online course and developed the teaching content through the use of Microsoft OneNote, Adobe Reader, and the Wacom Cintiq tablet monitor. Each learning module contained five different sections: module overview video, lesson content, vocabulary review, homework review, and quiz review.
The module overview video recorded the instructor introducing the week’s lesson. This allowed students to gain personal guidance and establish a personal connection with the instructor.
The lesson content generally begins with a blank, whiteboard-like screen. The instructor begins using the tablet, technologically-mediated whiteboard like they would on a physical whiteboard in a physical classroom. The advantage to using the tablet is that it allows the instructor to write, diagram, draw, add other documents/markup, and review all through the recorded videos that utilize tablet technology. Student learning is enhanced as they are able to cognitively “walk alongside” the professor throughout the lesson. Utilizing this type of online narrative cognitive modeling has proven effective in our online language learning courses (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 1999; Collins, Brown, & Newman, 1989; Svinicki, 2004).
Apart from language lesson content, we applied tablet technology to create additional language learning resources. We created additional online narrative cognitive modeling videos for vocabulary, homework, and quiz reviews (which allows the instructor to markup on-screen text and interact with an pre-selected sentences, examples, or passages). As students complete learning activities, these videos are provided to students so they can gain timely, formative feedback. The timely, formative feedback students’ receive seems as though the professor is sitting across the desk from them and personally guiding their learning.
Both internal feedback and external research provides supportive information for this effective practice.
"My preference is generally for on-campus courses. However, the design of this course provided for every advantage that might be expected from being physically present."
"In languages, face to face time is invaluable. That being said, i love the new lecture videos with the smart board and they do a great job keeping things interesting."
"Although we couldn't ask questions with immediate responses. I loved the fact that I could watch the lectures as much as I wanted to and whenever I wanted to, providing much need review."
"It was nice having the course online because I could work at my own pace. The video lectures were outstanding. I like how the professor was in various locations for the different videos... the combo of speaking instruction / but also having the writtenlive-pen teaching was excellent."
"The video lectures were a great mix of theory followed up by demonstration and examples. The style of teaching and the personality of Dr. Plummer is great and entertaining."
"through multiple content videos and ppt presentations along with vocab, homework and quiz videos. I received immediate feedback from the work."
"Dr. Plummer used several different videos for each lesson. One was more personal while the other was technical. Very helpful in keeping my attention and learning Greek."
Svinicki, M.D. (2004). Learning and motivation in the postsecondary classroom. San Francisco, CA: Anker Publishing.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds.). (1999). How people learn. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
Collins, A., Brown, J., & Newman, S. (1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the crafts of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. Resnick (Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 453-494). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
By using cognitive narrative modeling the students are able to envision themselves sitting next to the professor as they explain the concepts for each lesson. This lead to higher retention and overall satisfaction among both students and faculty.
The initial investment for a tablet device is the only barrier to entry. The tablet device allows for easy recording via screen-capture software, which is then dispensed to students via YouTube.
All students have virtual access to the videos through YouTube or another video uploading service. Instructors have access to the tablet device through the institution. Since writing on a tablet device is very similar to writing with pen and paper the barrier to entry is very low. A technician can train faculty in one session.
The instructor tested using this model had a high degree of satisfaction. He thought the process is so helpful for students that he requested the school to buy another tablet device for his on-campus students.
Students enjoy being able to “sit with the professor” and learn a language. Feedback on the course is high. Quotes on student satisfaction can be seen above.
Tablet device; screen-capture recording software; OneNote or other drawing software