Georgia Seminet, Associate Professor, Humanities (Languages, Literatures and Cultures)
Description of Course: Spanish 3332 is a third year course conceived as an introduction to the history, culture and society of Spain from the pre-historic period to the present. Knowledge acquired in the course will provide students with a basic foundation for further, more in-depth work in Spanish literature and film. Though the course content is interdisciplinary and includes literature, art, film and history, the course is taught entirely in Spanish, presenting challenges for less-advanced students. The skill-levels of the students who take the course usually range from intermediate-mid to advanced-low (on the ACTFL proficiency scale), though often there are students at the “superior or distinguished” level, meaning they most likely have native proficiency. In most cases, however, the four skills of speaking reading, listening and writing are still being developed. Thus, the course focuses on continuing progress in these areas as students learn about the diverse culture of Spain and work toward understanding the complex relationship between history and cultural identity.
Description of Project: The iPad pilot project for Spanish 3332 will provide the instructor with an opportunity to create innovative strategies for helping students meet the learning outcomes of the BA in Spanish, which tie into the university’s Essential Learning Outcomes. The focus on collaboration and creativity in the cloud will help students develop interpersonal skills as they work together in Spanish to understand the cultural practices, products & perspectives of Spain. Students will share and disseminate their research and projects through the cloud, rendering the class paperless to the greatest extent possible. The iPad will also facilitate instructor activities such as keeping track of absences and assessment.
Description of Pedagogical Experiment: Language instruction has for years used a communicative approach in which the students use and practice the language in the classroom. In a sense, this is similar to flipping the classroom, because students are being asked to practice the language in the classroom, and study the grammar at home. In upper-division courses, my approach is what could be called a “flipped, communicative” approach. Students are asked to cover the reading outside class, as is typical of a lecture course. However, the reading is not necessarily followed by extensive lectures and note taking by the students. Though this is often a valid and necessary approach, needed to supplement the textbook, students are also asked to participate in a variety of activities that require higher-order thinking such as answering questions about, and interpreting the readings, or analyzing literature and film. In preparation for this type of work, students have to read and prepare the material in advance. To reinforce this, I will use Socrative for “flash assessments” in class based on assigned readings. Any notes and writing that the students work on in class can be saved and shared by using Evernote, or any free app they prefer.
Example of Specific Activity: For the iPad pilot project, I will continue to have students perform similar activities in class as I have done in the past, however, they will be able to use the iPad with particular applications chosen to facilitate and improve workflow, communication, direct access to media sites, and sharing of materials and activites. A specific project that has been designed specifically for this class and the use of the iPad, is the “Eulogy to Francisco Franco.” To describe it briefly, students will create a newscast using iMovie in which Francisco Franco is eulogized, as if on a Spanish TV station. Students will be assigned roles to play for their eulogy, each of which will represent a particular ideological perspective on Franco. For example, students may be asked to eulogize Franco from the perspective of a priest, a Basque separatist, a housewife, or an independent businessman from Cataluña. They will be asked to research the stereotypes of these individuals, and based on their research they will develop their eulogy.
An example of an application that will be very useful for this particular project is Diigo. Students will be able to do their research and create a personal network around the theme they are researching. Diigo will facilitate annotation, saving of websites to create a personal network of material relevant to their topic, organizing and sharing of the information with group members and the professor. It is anticipated that through the use of Diigo, students will learn the value of organizing and sharing their research. I will gauge student attitudes toward Diigo via a survey at the end of the course, which will include questions on all the new apps used for class. Also, I will evaluate the usefulness of Diigo as part of the assessment of the eulogy project by requiring that students share the networks they create for their research with the instructor. A rubric will be used to assess the presentation of the project, and will include a bibliography. My expectation is that students will be more organized with their research, will enjoy the process more because they can engage in research anywhere at anytime (and keep track of it all!), and share information. If used systematically, Diigo will result in improved research and thus an improved learning experience .
The biggest challenge with the iPad pilot project will be to identify and learn to use the different applications chosen for the course in an effective and efficient manner. Neither the instructor nor the students are accustomed to using technology for all their activities.
Status: The applications and activities for the course have been defined and integrated into the fall, 2014 syllabus.
Assessment: Coursework will be assessed through a combination of tests, presentations and surveys.