Using the Web for Teacher Preparation and Development

Natalie Lovick, Defense Language Institute

This presentation describes part of a Russian pedagogy course for future and current teachers taught at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). The course consisted of experienced teachers, students with no teaching experience, language assistants with some teaching experience, native and non-native speakers of Russian. The students were enrolled in the MA Teaching Foreign Languages program. The focus here is on the part of the course concerning the use of technology in the classroom, i.e., the development of Internet based lessons. Some questions addressed were: How can teachers effectively incorporate technology in the classroom? Will this improve the students' learning experience? What should the student be able to do after working with the Internet?

Before requiring the (MIIS) students to write Internet-based lesson plans, they reviewed the changes in foreign language teaching and learning over the last several decades. Chute, Thompson and Hancock (1999) explicitly show the main differences between 20th and 21st century learning. Since the 21st century classroom is more learner-centered, the teacher naturally becomes more of a guide rather than the all-knowing source of material (Kost 1999). Timpson (1999) describes three characteristics of the new classroom and shows its direction: 1) from a teacher-directed approach to one that is more student-centered; 2) from a focus on product to a focus on the process; 3) from an individual context to a group context. As Lixl-Purcell (1996) states: "In the age of multimedia information and instruction, language teachers are able to function more as motivators, mediators, and designers of tasks rather than mere knowledge providers." In other words, when the teacher was the source of information, the learning process usually was teacher-to-learner. Now that the source of information, interaction, opinion is not the teacher, but rather, for example, the Internet, Tom March (July/August 1995), raises the relevant question: What is the teacher supposed to do? What is the teacher's value in the classroom? These questions as well as those raised in The Technological Horizons in Education Journal (January, 2002) concerning technology were also a part of the classroom discussion: 1) What does it mean to integrate technology? 2) Why should we integrate technology? 3) How do we do it?

To assist the MIIS students in creating Internet-based lessons, they were introduced to teaching with the web using Tom March's Web-and-Flow chart found on the Internet. This chart provides guidance on how to write an Internet-based lesson plan by asking the most important question: What is the learning goal of the lesson? Depending on the lesson's goal, the instructor can shape goal oriented activities related by choosing from 4-6 specific formats that would guide the users toward a particular format of Web-based learning. These specific formats and corresponding activities will be presented, as well as web-based lesson plans developed by the students.