Online Language Course Development

Building on the success and impact of the LPII, the UChicago Language Center is offering a comprehensive pedagogy, curriculum, and professional development program that helps language instructors create online courses for select language curricula. This program would be similar to the Language Pedagogy Innovation Initiative in its focus on reverse design and its highly-structured methodology, but would be more limited in scope to language courses that would be most effective in online delivery. Online course formats would also make it possible for the University to offer specialized, high-quality, and in-demand language courses to a broader population of students.

For this program, an “online course” is a course where:
  1. all course content and tasks are delivered via an online learning management system (Canvas).
  2. the course is primarily delivered asynchronously, with supplemental weekly synchronous sessions for review, discussion, and practice.
  3. synchronous sessions can either happen online or face-to-face, depending on when the course is offered (i.e., summer vs academic year).
The following criteria are used to identify appropriate courses:
  • Suitability for delivery in online environments. Conventional “four-skills” (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) language courses require face-to-face interaction, but some specialized courses (such as those that are focused more towards literacy and advanced language abilities) are better-suited to take advantage of the affordances of online delivery (i.e., individualized content-based instruction).
  • Unique expertise and specialization at the University of Chicago. This program seeks to capitalize on the University’s strengths to design innovative language courses that help advance the field of foreign language education.
  • Limited offerings at other universities. Delivering these courses online makes them available to students at other universities who do not have access to such specialized courses.
  • Strategic need for these courses within UChicago. We need to be able to make a compelling case for offering these courses online, and/or as part of the Summer Language Institute.
  • Must have a relevant LPII-developed proficiency test in place (or in development). These tests will help the developers reverse design their courses with realistic, demonstrable, and measurable course goals in place, as well as an understanding of what it takes to get there. Also, tests will both measure students’ proficiency gains after completing the course and make it possible to gauge the course’s effectiveness.

At present, only the following courses are being developed through this initiative:

  • Reading and Research courses (both R&R courses that culminate in the ARCA exam and R&R prerequisite courses that help students with no knowledge of the language reach Intermediate Mid in reading)
  • Developing Foundational Skills’ Heritage literacy courses

Participants will apply in April, receive training in the beginning of Summer quarter, and then develop the course over the summer. Contact Nick Swinehart for more information.