Live blogging from CALICO: E-Learning and Student Engagement:Promises in Cyberspace

Catherine Caws, Dept. of French, University of Victoria

Research question: how does the internet mediate and transform our practices as language teachers, practitioners and pedagogues?
as What implications do these resources have on the curriculum outcomes, learning designs, educational outcomes?

The technologies highlighted in her talk (all created at the University of Victoria):
FLORE: (French Learning Object Repository for Education) A web portal that provides organized access to nearly 900 resources relevant to teaching and learning french as a Second language…in French about French….

FrancoToile: is a digital library of small videos featuring Francophones from around the world… built as a web based bilingual interface…view videos, view transcripts and annotations, with a queriable database…

Limited number of videos available now…more are coming!

Goals of the study:
to develop independent learning, inquiry based learning, multi-literacy approach to learning

Preliminary findings:

Students’ feeling of empowerment, motivation, higher cognitive process.
(Catherine felt that this was because the task was directed, that the language was authentic –which previously seen as difficult)

Provided multiple voices and perspectives (again, native speakers and authentic speech)
The technology extended the basic notions of the course to address other language process and/or cultural issues
strong correlation between effectiveness of technology and instructional strategy: it is was truly embedded in the course and the pedagogy was TRANSPARENT (liveblogger’s emphasis added 🙂 ), the learning became more effective

the need to development electronic, critical and cultural literacy as a conscientious approach to learning
Create a clear link between the toll, the activity and the outcome
The need to contextualize the medium (lookeee there: the need for transparent pedagogy again!)
Assessment as synthesis and content creation (how do we assess learning…can they grab the essence of the resource? can they do a critical review vs a report? content creation as a means of demonstration of knowledge…eg: In a class focusing on culture, you just saw 5 people talking about what they do every day…now you go find a native speaker and make a video too )

(note: helps highlight the hidden diversity at our schools…)


The disconnect between what we want them to learn and what they want to learn….how can these tools be turned around to address what is interesting to them vs what we (traditionally) think is interesting for them to learn. Catherine gave some interesting examples of using these tools and having the students compare and contrast ways of expressing things about similar topics, comparing what “canned” French language sounds like vs “natural” language. Using FrancoToile and comparing language from Quebec, France, Senegal…

The shift in how we are using technology… being sure to use technology in a way that makes sense for the users. And –as we are seeing time and time again– that students are becoming critical users of technology.

Additional Research cited:
Online resources and electronic literacy (Shetzer and Warshauer, 200)
Paradoxical situation: is accessibility reducing critical thinking (Scolaric and Jonassen, 2001)

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

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