Organizer and Chair: Shigeru Miyagawa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Discussant: Kazuko Nakajima, University of Toronto
Ever more emphasis is being placed on the use of technology in education, including language instruction. Building an institutional technology infrastrcture is expensive and often labor intensive. Yet there seems to be almost a blind trust that technology will make education more effective, even at the expense of resources for such traditionally important areas as library acquisition.
This panel will present four examples of the successful incorporation of technology into the language curriculum. Each experiment has been undertaken for at least one year with participation of the majority of the learners in the program. Also, there is rigorous evaluation to identify the strengths and limitations of the technology.
The paper, "Education and Technology: When Is Technology Really Useful?" will describe the rational for MIT's JP NET, an Internet-based distributed learning system for Japanese language and culture. With more than 200 regular users, JP NET provides a unique opportunity to test various types of technology for the acquisition of Japanese. "An Integrated Use of Computer Technologies in Teaching and Learning Japanese" demonstrates some of the newest multimedia applications within JP NET, and how they changed the teaching and learning approaches. "Where is the Teacher? Videoconferencing Instruction at Towanda High School," will report on a pre-college experiment using the latest videoconferencing technology, which has made it possible for a teacher at one school to share his Japanese classes with neighboring school districts without leaving his school building. "Can Technology Enhance the Japanese Language Curriculum?" describes the use of a rich database of video images within a highly articulated technology-based Japanese language curriculum.
Education and Technology: When Is Technology Really Useful?
Shigeru Miyagawa and Anne LaVin, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
At MIT, we have been engaged in building and evaluating a variety of technologies for use in Japanese language instruction. We embarked on this project several years ago, when we discovered that the right combination of technology can cut down on the time needed to acquire certain aspects of Japanese by as much as a half. Given the difficulty of the language, we felt it important to see if the language and culture can be made more accessible to foreign learners through the use of technology.
Among the projects we are now developing is JP NET, an Internet-based distributed learning system for Japanese language and culture. We have put the entire MIT Japanese language program on the Web, and the MIT students access the material on a daily basis. With more than 200 students in the program, this provides a unique opportunity to test various types of technology for acquisition of Japanese. Using the basic structure of the Web and the Internet, we are taking advantage of the unique capabilities of computers for organizing and delivering multi-media (text, sound, and video) materials to students both at MIT and at other institutions around the world.
An Integrated Use of Computer Technology in Teaching and Learning Japanese
Yoshimi Nagaya, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Taking advantage of Athena, MIT's campus-wide, networked educational computer system, the Japanese language program at MIT has been developing various computerized materials for teaching and learning Japanese. These online instructional materials are now available on the Web via JP NET, an online information service for Japanese language and culture education, and have become successfully integrated in our program-wide curricula for all levels at MIT. As we experiment with the design of different types of materials, delivery methods, and other tools and systems available for computerized language instruction, we hope to expand such online materials and to widely disseminate them to the Japanese language community at large.
In this presentation, we will give a demonstration of some of the materials and applications currently available through JP NET, focusing on some of our newest multi-media applications. During the demonstration we will describe how the materials have been incorporated within the curricula at MIT, the changes that occurred in our teaching and learning approaches, and the current limitations and future perspectives in the pedagogical use of computer technologies.
We hope that this presentation will indicate a new model for designing a computer-assisted language program for attaining the maximum effectiveness in improving all the four language skills. By applying pedagogically sound technologies, we believe that we will be able to improve the quality of instruction, increase access to materials and human communications, and liberate teachers from redundant labors by building a community for Japanese language instruction based on this online infrastructure.
Where is the Teacher? Videoconferencing Instruction at Towanda High School
Peter Henty, Towanda High School
While the demand for Japanese language has increased at the secondary level, there are often not enough students to justify hiring a teacher. Two years ago, Towanda High School in rural northeastern Pennsylvania began an experiment to address this problem technologically. Using the latest videoconferencing technology from Picturetel, we began delivering live, interactive instruction to multiple sites simultaneously. As far as we know, this is the most extensive use of videoconferencing technology in the country for distance learning of Japanese. This has made it possible for me, as one Japanese language teacher at THS, to share my Japanese classes with neighboring school districts without leaving my school building. Unlike the use of satellite systems, any school in the world with videoconferencing equipment can connect to my classroom through ordinary phone lines. Starting this fall from Towanda, I will also be instructing high school students in Cape May, New Jersey and possibly a school district in New York state. This use of technology is redefining where and when learning takes place and provides an opportunity for high school students to learn Japanese together with students in other places.
There is real interaction between the instructor and the students via real-time video and voice. Auxiliary cameras can also send, for example, illustrations in real-time of writing Chinese characters. The funding for this project comes from the Rural Electric Association, and more recently, from one of fifteen federal government Challenge Grants to expand the consortium and the number of schools using this equipment.
Can Technology Enhance the Japanese Language Curriculum?
Ken Ujie, Washington and Lee University
Technology-based materials are often expensive and time consuming to prepare, and there is no guarantee that they will be effective. The Japanese program at Washington and Lee University has been experimenting with a variety of technology-based materials for a number of years. We believe that the use of technology only makes sense if there is a coherent set of goals, and a form of technology that helps achieve those goals. There must also be an on-going evaluation process.
One goal we set ourselves was to create an extensive visual and audio database for the common linguistic patterns. I developed a series of video programs with a professional team that are available in both video tape and laser disc formats. One can program a laser disc player to instantaneously access video clips and stills in class. In the language lab, students study the material at their own pace, and can create "shows" using the programming capability.
A second goal we established is to increase student-teacher and student-student communication. E-mail turns out to be a powerful tool for this purpose. Students also construct their own homepages on the Web. By making e-mail and the Web an integral part of the program, we have created a "virtual" community of learners and teachers that transcends the physical confines of the classroom.
We continue to evaluate the effectiveness of our use of technology. For example, the video programs were pressed on laser disc when it became apparent that instantaneous access would greatly enhance their usefulness.