Alternate Reality Project

It’s been a while… After receiving tenure, I took a small break from blogging. Also, I was elected as President-Elect of the International Association for Language Learning and Technology and have been working on a couple of articles and an (edited) book project entitled “From Language Lab to Language Center and Beyond: The Past, Present, and Future of Language Center Design, which I expect to be published in 2016. I’ll write more soon.

arpSo I’m back and blogging. And I’ve been experimenting with a lot of new ideas and technologies. One project that I’m currently working on with my colleague Prof. Bridges is an alternate reality project (ARP) in our 3rd semester German class. We are co-teaching the so-called fourth hour, an extra hour that is meant to give students more exposure and practice during the elementary language learning phase.

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During the ARP, students build a virtual (=fake) German city and take on new roles of inhabitants of this city. The naming contest led to the city of Pfefferhausen, which now has it’s own web site with links to about 16 businesses (which the students created): a bakery, a souvenir store, a museum, a bar, a restaurant, a gym, … Each student is developing her or his alter ego – in class and through social media online. For example, everyone has a twitter account and describes daily life in Pfefferhausen. Other activities are business mixers, a business trip, recording the answering machine of the business, etc.

So far it’s been a good project, and we hope to grow Pfefferhausen during the coming semesters. Once things are in a more presentable format, I’ll post some more links and pictures here.

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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