Introduction to German Media and Film

This semester I have the pleasure of teaching a 5th semester “Introduction to German Media and Film” course. I like teaching all kinds of levels, but this course has never been taught before.
You can imagine that this is the perfect playground for a language technologist and teacher! I can try out new technologies that enhance the course quite a bit, and some parts couldn’t be taught without them. So I thought I’d share my tools and experiences here with you.

Chinswing: Students leave weekly messages on this online voice board that is completely open to the public. I subscribed to it as a podcast so that I can multitask even more. The best part is that German native speakers have started to chime in. We’re actually having a skype conference call with a native speaker that contributed to the voice board.

Podcasts: Students are following two podcasts loosely. The first one deals with two different cultural topics each week. It’s great because the text and word explanations are provided as metadata. The other one is a German TV show video podcast, Die Sendung mit der Maus, which seemed to be quite popular.

Apple’s Keynote, screen capture, Comic Life Deluxe: Those make my life so much easier, but I think I’ll cover that in another post. Never using bullet points in my presentations!

Presentation Remote: Never having to to go to my laptop during class saves time and makes everything look so much more effortless. But it requires a bit more prep work. I like the Presentation Remote Pro by Keyspan.

YouTube, Google, the web in general: Well, nothing new here. It’s still simply amazing how there are so many resources. How did we ever teach with them?

Vocabbulary Wiki: Since there is no textbook, there are no lists of vocabulary items. Oh my goodness, is this a real language course? Well, we do have our vocabulary list, which is actually a wiki, so that students can enter the new words they have learnt. Yes, they are actually doing that, and yes, I also occasionally enter words, especially those from the blackboard.

Creative Projects: A third of the grade is actually determined by the students’ creative work, finding resources and information about a topic of their choice, and finally organizing and presenting the results. I can’t wait, everything sounds very promising so far.

Whew, that seems like technology overload, right? Maybe, but then someone has to put those technologies to the test, otherwise the faculty will not use them. And most of the course consists of discussions. After all, we want to keep all that technology nicely hidden in the background.

Felix Kronenberg is working at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. His research interests include academic space design, video games and language learning, digital storytelling, and the culture of advertising. He teaches German and language pedagogy, and maintains the Language Technology Boot Camp blog and web site.

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