Technology and Remote Instruction

On this page, I will primarily discuss my experience with remote instruction.

I regularly use technology in my classes during remote and in-person instruction. Platforms that I have effectively used for teaching include Microsoft Word and PowerPoint; Prezi; Google Docs, Slides, and Forms; YouTube and downloaded video files; Qualtrics; Zoom and other video platforms; and the learning management systems Blackboard Learn, Moodle, and Brightspace (D2L). See my sample work page for examples, including a lesson plan that effectively incorporates technology in an introductory French classroom and submitted student assignments that rely on the use of technology.

My Experience with Remote Instruction

In Spring and Summer 2020, I worked as a Teaching Assistant of Remote Instruction through the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). My responsibility was to assist professors and instructors in the transition to remote teaching as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Fall of the same year, I “returned” to UCSB to teach French remotely through the Department of French and Italian, where I taught through the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. Working with professors with varying pedagogical philosophies during this year of remote instruction allowed me the opportunity to evaluate my use of technology in the language classroom, and how best to use technology during remote instruction to enhance student engagement and learning.

The Use of Technology for Informal Language Practice

One of the main challenges I have faced during remote learning is providing students enough time to practice spoken communication during class. When students are learning on campus, they have access to conversation club, movie club, and other student events that allow them to meet and interact with other French speaking students or instructors. With social distancing practices and a reduction of funds for the organization of such events, students have few university-led opportunities to speak French.

Synchronous communication platforms like Zoom can be used to fill in these gaps. While working as a Teaching Assistant, my resources are limited; however, I do encourage my students to schedule office hour meetings (currently hosted on a video platform) specifically for one-on-one conversation practice. In Winter 2021, I am also organizing a small conversation group with students in my class, beginning the week of January 11. I will provide students with questions and topics they may discuss if they so choose, and elicit feedback about their experience at the end of the quarter. In addition to allowing students time to practice conversational French, the goal of these meeting is to foster a sense of community that students may have lost since the move to remote learning.

While Zoom is the platform currently provided by my university, I have also had some success using Skype, GoogleHangouts, WhatsApp, and Facebook video calls for informal language practice.