Designing On-line Chinese Language Courses: New Roles for Educators
Tongtao Zheng, Xiamen University, United States
JITE-Research Volume 4, Number 1, ISSN 1539-3585 Publisher: Informing Science Institute
The purpose of this paper is threefold. Firstly, it will review the theories and practice of on-line learning and the need for new roles in the development of new media delivery systems. Secondly, the current status of university teachers will be analyzed within the context of the new roles. And thirdly, new roles for teachers and course designers in their endeavors to assimilate information technology (IT) into on-line teaching systems are identified. This paper suggest that most universities today still haven’t fully understood the importance of IT in education and haven’t adopted appropriate strategy and measurements in response to the impact of IT on education. One clear example, as pointed out by many researchers, is that universities still focus on research production and ignore the teaching practice. An immediate result from this ignorance of teaching practice is inadequate teacher education and training. This situation is getting worse with the rapid development of IT, which affects all parts of educational system. Many universities understand the importance of online courses driven either by the idea of potential loss of future educational market share or merely wanting to cut down daily running costs. One of the strong growing areas is foreign language teaching or LOTE (Languages Other Than English) due to the impacts of educational globalization. Many websites have been set up and many LOTE course are offered online. These online language courses are designed and implemented by different teachers with various backgrounds. Many of these online courses are poorly designed. For example, some courses are identical to a textbook or have “digitalized” a textbook online. Putting a textbook online does not mean an online course. Many online language courses lack interaction; the traditional way of course delivery can be seen everywhere whereas individualization of course content can rarely be found. All these phenomena point to one source: inadequate education of teachers. The paper suggests that a qualified Chinese online teacher should possess four macro skills: be digitally literate, be a creative thinker, be a multi-skills possessor, and be a learning facilitator. Firstly, teachers should possess adequate knowledge that is appropriate for particular purposes. They also need the ability to find easily the right information from vast amounts of information sources and have the ability to evaluate such information. Secondly, a teacher should be innovative, elaborating, and a combination of the two which are essential towards his duties. Creative thinking allows us to generate alternative concepts and practices and to establish solutions effective in the exploration and the advancement of an online course. Thirdly, online language teaching is related to work in education, computer science, natural language processing, cognitive science and psychology, linguistics, cultural studies, and media/communication studies. It is both influenced by and influences theory and research in all these related fields. It is therefore imperative that teachers have a solid grounding in the above mentioned fields. And finally, an online language teacher must be able to facilitate the transformation of their students from passive recipients to active participators.
Zheng, T. (2005). Designing On-line Chinese Language Courses: New Roles for Educators. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 4(1), 275-285. Informing Science Institute.
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