Shared LCTL Symposium 2017 Recap

University of Chicago, Big 10 Alliance, Andrew W Mellon Foundation, Michigan State University logos

Stakeholders from across the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) and beyond gathered for a full-day Symposium on LCTL instruction at the Big Ten Conference Center in Chicago, IL on Monday, September 11th 2017. On the agenda were updates on collaborative projects across the BTAA, as well as a discussion of some of the most pressing issues moving forward.

Morning session: Updates on current projects

After a welcome by Chris Long (Dean, College of Arts and Letters, Michigan State University) and Cathy Baumann (Director, Chicago Language Center, University of Chicago), the morning saw a number of groups give reports on their projects.

Emily Heidrich and Koen Van Gorp (Project Manager and Curriculum Coordinator, Michigan State University) provided an update on the Mellon-funded LCTL Partnership initiative, which aims to foster collaboration and the development of communities of practice among LCTL instructors across the BTAA. The first year of the project focused on Swahili, and so Deo Ngonyani (Michigan State University), Katrina Daly Thompson (University of Wisconsin – Madison), and Mary Gathogo (University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign) each had an opportunity to showcase the first set of teaching materials developed under this project.

Cathy Baumann (Director, Chicago Language Center, University of Chicago) reported on the Collaborative Partners project, now in its second year. The project is also funded by an Andrew W. Mellon grant and focuses on bringing together pairs of instructors of Less Commonly Taught Languages (LCTLs) from different home institutions to develop shared course sequences in the target language, following a reversed design approach.

The morning session ended with an update from Joseph Miller (Program Coordinator, Academic Programs, Big Ten Academic Alliance), who reported on the established CourseShare initiative. During this portion of the session, many attendees from outside the BTAA had the opportunity to learn more about CourseShare for the first time.

You can watch a recording of the morning session by clicking here.

Afternoon panels

After the lunch break, where everyone had a chance to catch up with old friends and network with new acquaintances, the afternoon session sought to generate dialogue among attendees and input about current projects and future directions.

The research panel saw Chris Kaiser (Program Manager, Distance Learning, Columbia University), Chris Long (Dean, College of Arts & Letters, Michigan State University), and Nick Swinehart (Multimedia Pedagogy Specialist, University of Chicago) each give a brief presentation on research issues and agendas brought forth at their respective institutions. The panelists brought different vantage points on research across collaboration initiatives, from more granular (Chris Kaiser) to broader (Chris Long). Nick Swinehart discussed a very interesting research question: how can we measure LCTL instructors’ readiness to teach online?

The technology panel, led by Luca Giupponi (Educational Technology Specialist, Michigan State University), Thomas Garza (Director, Texas Language Center, University of Texas at Austin), and Steel Wagstaff (Instructional Technology Consultant, University of Wisconsin – Madison) focused on different approaches to using technology to foster collaboration and openness. Attendees learned about the potential of technology to disrupt traditional ways of teaching language, as well as affordances and constraints associated with two major publishing tools: Google Apps and Pressbooks.

You can watch a recording of the afternoon session by clicking here.

Major themes

The major themes of the 2017 Shared LCTL Symposium which emerged from presentations, discussions, and audience questions were the following:

  • Collaboration is hard but extremely beneficial
  • How can we move past collaboration and towards Strategic Coordination?
  • Publishing tools and Open Educational Resources (OERs)
  • Collaboration as threat VS opportunity
  • Criteria for effective technology decisions

We’d like to thank everyone who attended for coming and offering so many ideas and topics for discussion. See you all next year!