Cecile Zorach, Professor of German at Franklin & Marshall College, teaches courses likeGerman Conversation and Composition andIntroduction to International Studies. Professor Zorach has been witness to the transition from analog to digital media during her time at Franklin and Marshall. “Modern languages have used technology for about forty years starting with audio tapes and then video tapes, and in recent years we’ve realized the need to get students more immediate access to the contemporary spoken language and to the culture of the countries in which those languages are spoken” states Professor Zorach. This discovery has led her to embrace technology in the classroom.
During the Spring 2008 semester, Professor Zorach participated in the Contextualized Learning program. This program, offered by the Instructional and Emerging Technologies department, partners a faculty member with an instructional technologist/designer. This partnership is tasked with deriving and incorporating technology in the classroom. In the course of the program, Professor Zorach explored various technologies as well as advancing some that she had been utilizing.
One such technology was Blackboard, the college’s Learning Management System. While Professor Zorach has been a consistent Blackboard user, she felt the need to become more proficient in certain areas while exploring new features and functions. She utilizes Blackboard as a way to share course material as well as collecting material through the Digital Dropbox. In promoting student participation and engagement, she has relied on the discussion board feature. Through the discussion boards, she is able to post links, questions, and documents, monitor student responses, and even grade the student responses.
While participating in the Contextualized Learning program, Professor Zorach spent a great deal of time focusing on the Blackboard Grade Center. She has found the online grading system to satisfy her students’ needs to access information at their own time. “This is a platform that they can access since they all have laptops, anywhere, anytime, on their own time, and it gives them latitude to pursue studies in their own study patterns.” Her use of Blackboard has indeed provided this platform to her students.
As for the future, Professor Zorach has expressed interest in participating in other programs that would guide her towards incorporating online voice recording and video in her instruction.