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So You Want to Start Teaching Online?

  • 40 Questions Answered

Let’s Begin…

Online language teaching and learning is not a simple conversion from the face-to-face classroom. These are questions you should ask yourself and factors you should consider before diving into online.

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
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There are many resources which can help you get your feet wet before you take the big plunge.  Reaching out to the National Foreign Language Resource Centers can be a great way to find a community of practitioners whose members have already taken the dive. Here are a few LRC online teaching links to get you started: 
- NFLRC (hosting the TED-Eds for this mentoring program), with lots of online materials on how to teach online as well as selecting materials and engaging in project based learning.
- CARLA with workshops, institutes, STARTALK, and a huge set of online resources. Check out the CARLA bibliography on its site and on Diigo.
- COERLL has great materials and its guides to open resources should be in your arsenal! This links to a workshop on online input and focus  and another online 101 workshop by BOLDD.
- CERCLL will help you with projects in games, video, hypermedia and intercultural competence.
- CLEAR, too, has workshops, loads of free RIAs, and don’t forget its publication LLTI.

If you’re interested in further education in online instruction or getting certified as an online instructor, in addition to the workshops and institutes offered by the LRCs above, check out programs offered by the University of Colorado-Boulder, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. If you are in an LCTL, there are also STARTALK programs at CARLA, several other LRCs, and the University of Virginia.

Would you like to connect with other institutions that are offering online language courses? Here are a few that you might reach out to or check out online: 

- Old Dominion University (Prof. Facer)
- Valdosta University (Dr. Russell)
- University of Maryland University College (Dean Jones)
- Carnegie Mellon University (Online learning Initiative and the Dept. of Foreign Languages)
- Virtual Virginia (several languages K-12)
- BYU Online

And if you’re just looking for some general, helpful resources, here are a few links and ideas: 

- Quality Matters: This is a great national organization with many resources and tools to help you in your online teaching adventure

- 16 OER Sites Every Educator Should Know: This article will give you some ideas for open educational resources that might be valuable to you as you compile/create your course content.

- Think Pair Share: This activity can help you and your colleagues think through some of the aspects of online learning and discuss key concepts together.

- Analyze Your OLL Environment: This is a great worksheet from the BOLDD workshops that can help you work through analyzing your environment.

- Online instructional environments for language teaching: Designing the conversation: Carla Meskill is a leader in our industry, and this chapter of hers is an excellent guide for you as you get started in online language teaching. 

Teaching online is an exciting, emergent field. There are many modes, styles, approaches, and technicities. Nonetheless, it is still, bottom line, all about student learning. So, the standards, core practices and performance modes that the ACTFL community has articulated must always pave the way. The innovative, creative, amazing ways we manage harness new technologies and media to bring great language education to students online is the fun and engaging part of the job! Remember to always start with good pedagogy. If you can’t figure out how to ‘translate’ an effective teaching practice into an online venue, reach out to a community of online designers and teachers, here in the ACTFL DL SIG, BOLDD, the LRCs, IALLT and local/regional language associations. It takes a village;-)

Good luck and have fun!

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