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TESL offers unique course

by Jean Kirschenmann, assistant prof. of ESL


In the relative quiet of Summer 4, The Applied Linguistics (TESL) program offered the first-ever hybrid course at HPU. The first three weeks of AL 3801/6600 Group Dynamics in the Language Classroom was taught as a distance course using videoconferencing and WebCT. The last five weeks were taught face-to-face in a classroom setting while continuing to use WebCT. Five undergraduate and 11 graduate TESL students participated in this adventure with Visiting Professor Dr. Tim Murphey of Dokkyo University Japan.


The hybrid nature of the course grew out of Murphey’s need to complete his academic year in Japan before traveling to Hawai‘i. However, it also presented the students, the TESL program, and HPU with unique opportunities for learning. The hybrid design allowed HPU to attract a scholar with a worldwide reputation for innovative teaching and gave students a memorable experience.

The vision that made all of this possible came from former Director of Instructional Media Services, Barbara Voigt, who also coached everyone through the distance- learning weeks. While the experiment was not without its glitches, the consensus was that it was worth the effort.

The hybrid nature of the course provided a laboratory in which students could study the content of the course firsthand. Group dynamics is an interdisciplinary field drawing on research in psychology, sociology, business studies, and political science, as well as education. Murphey co-authored a recent book that explores how group dynamics affect learning in language classes. In addition to extensive reading, students kept logs and shared reflections about both their distance and classroom experiences. They were able to see, in the most concrete of ways, how group dynamics affects learning and will relate to their future work as teachers.

The course ended as uniquely as it began. Professor and students compiled, edited, and bound a collection of papers written to fulfill various requirements of the class. Everyone contributed something. They added background information on the hybrid course, data collected about their experience, and biographical statements.

Anyone interested in a copy of TESL Working Papers should see Dr. Ed Klein in FH 504-8.




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