This interactive teaching workshop will encourage instructors to explore responses to the central question of why technology is important in the foreign-language classroom, and to consider critically the opportunities and risks of adopting new approaches and tools. Guest speakers will give live demonstrations of dynamic learning resources, and exhibit criteria to evaluate how different technological tools can be effectively and inexpensively utilized in all language programs. Attendees will be encouraged to get hands-on experience using computing devices provided for the event to embark on a curated tour of new learning resources and digital connections. For instance, teachers will be shown resources that allow students to engage and customize authentic media content in the target language, record and share their own AV speech samples, connect with communities at other institutions following eTandem models, and to participate in collaborative exercises for group writing activities, peer assessment exchanges, and extended project-based learning or theme-based instructional objectives. In addition to previewing digital tools, attendees will hear from students who have experienced these new approaches in different language classes at the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Technology has forever changed the landscape of education across all levels and subject concentrations. Our current and future students, consequently, belong to generations who grew up learning in fundamentally different ways than those who came of age before the rise of personal digital computing devices. Students have access to more information than ever right at their fingertips, and new tools hold incredible promise to deepen and enrich diverse learning outcomes. There are both tremendous benefits and risks associated with educational technology. For conscientious instructors who understand the immense potential of technology to enhance avenues of intercultural engagement, increase linguistic proficiency, and facilitate collaborative initiatives to showcase student work, the advantages to new digital approaches in foreign-language pedagogy far outweigh the costs.
In addition to possessing expertise in a specific field, instructors are now also expected to know how to navigate different websites, course management systems, e-portfolio collections, and curated multimedia collections. The task of acquiring new digital literacy skills is often daunting, both for students and teachers, but technology in its ongoing development now provides educators with ready-made, user-friendly tools that do not excessively complicate or interfere with the delivery of primary course content and skills. Educational technology can be seamlessly integrated into learning plans created by teachers for students in a manner that appeals to individualized learning and growth, while also promoting the fulfillment and advancement of curricular objectives.