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The DIRT for May 21-25, 2018

Online Medical Translation Course Wraps this Week

Written by Amy Slay

Professor Amanda Pease’s Medical Written & Sight Translation online course comes to an end this week. Amanda has taught this course on-ground before in a one-week-intensive format, but this spring she partnered with DLINQ instructional designer (ID), Amy Slay, to hybridize her curriculum and redesign the course to run for eight weeks in Canvas LMS. This is one of several courses that make up the Institute’s Spanish Community Interpreting specialization, a program that is being hybridized to reach a wider audience. DLINQ staff partnered with renowned Spanish Translation & Interpretation faculty to hybridize several courses, but Amanda’s course presented a unique design challenge. While previous courses in the specialization have had a heavy focus on the theories and concepts underpinning the community interpreting field, Amanda’s curriculum is highly application-based. Amy and Amanda worked together to develop a weekly structure in which students did deep dives on specific facets of medical translation, drafting translations of medical documents and giving each other detailed feedback via peer review before getting additional feedback from Amanda on their updatated translations. Amy is looking forward to hearing from students about their experience on the course and hopes she can continue to build upon this model for future offerings.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

Building collaborative relationships with faculty and and getting to dabble in their areas of expertise is one of Amy’s favorite things about her work. On this particular project, one of the most enjoyable things about her work with Amanda was sharing the excitement that became more and more prominent in their weekly Zoom check-ins. As the course design and structure came together, the initial focus on how to manage the course technology shifted to thought-provoking discussions about digital pedagogy. Amy remembers a particularly insightful moment when she and Amanda were discussing how an instructor’s voice comes across in an (almost entirely asynchronous) online course. Amanda shared that her inclination when writing in Canvas was to write academically and adopt a more formal voice, while much of the sample content Amy had provided was informal. This tapped into some of the tension points that are innate in instructional design work:

  • How do faculty and students perform their identities in digital spaces?
  • How can instructional designers provide the necessary foundational structure to support faculty without compromising their pedagogical agency?

Sean Michael Morris has written that “all courses are compositions, and as such they should tell a story.” What kind of story is told in online courses, and how is that story impacted by the team of collaborators working to bring the course to fruition? How does this compare to the narratives and dynamics that unfold in an on-ground classroom? Sean says that “most teachers sound nothing like themselves when they write online; and yet voice sets the tone in an online course. Perfect grammar shakes no one’s hand, gives no hugs.” How, then, can IDs provide sufficient foundational support to the faculty without minimizing their voice and self-expression? These are challenging questions that do not necessarily have simple answers, but grappling with complexity and challenging assumptions can and should be at the heart of meaningful instructional design.


Why Should I use Technology? – Through the Lens of SAMR

Written by Heather Stafford
Image - from <a href="https://goo.gl/images/qYVLYc" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Wikimedia Commons</a>
Image – from Wikimedia Commons

As someone who works in the field of academic technology I hear and read about this question a lot and it’s a valid one. The new Office of Digital Learning and Inquiry (DLINQ) has intentionally inserted a focus on critical digital pedagogy into our mission to ensure that like every other educational method, this question is considered in every usage.

When I am approached about an idea or a question about a project that involves technology or “the digital” I am often measuring the project against something called the SAMR model which was developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura. For a quick (6 min) overview – check out the video below.

The SAMR model considers whether a technology usage results in substitution, augmentation, modification or transformation of learning. No “level” is necessarily better than the other, however the transformation level is an area where educators are using technology to do something that was not possible without that digital component and can result in learning that may not have been able to occur previously. A good example of this is highlighted in the video where Ruben mentions the usage of interactive maps to create “gateways to each other’s knowledge.”

Perhaps the most exciting thing about technology usage in the classroom is that the potential of the tool lies not in what it does – but if and how we decide to use it. I look forward to many more creative conversations about our most common inquiry “what is possible?” In this question we can find the other half of our mission: hope and an eternal curiosity about what is just beyond what we have done before.


Documenting Content Based Language Instruction Pilot Project

Written by Bob Cole
Screen capture from a test of our classroom video segment recorded with Assistant Professor of Spanish, Gabriel Guillen’s spring 2018 course: SPLA 8372 – Spanish Social Entrepreneurship

Our office is excited to be partnering this summer with Jason Martel, TESOL/TFL Assistant Professor and Associate Director of Middlebury Institute’s Summer Intensive Language Programs (SILP), on a pilot project to document content-based foreign language instruction and pedagogy. As Jason states, “foreign language teachers and scholars are starting to realize the power that content-based instruction (CBI) has for invigorating foreign language curricula…” A signature distinction of ‘CBI’ is the teacher’s commitment to teaching language through subject areas that are motivating and intellectually challenging to learners. The Middlebury Institute has embraced CBI in many of its language and intercultural studies programs for several decades, and Jason believes the Institute “could serve as a beacon for helping spread CBI to other foreign language education contexts.”

The goal of the summer pilot will be to work with a group of three to five SILP foreign language faculty to prototype a collection of multimedia artifacts that begin to document the Institute’s resident expertise in CBI pedagogy and practices for a broader audience. A result of initial planning meetings with DLINQ multimedia specialist Mark Basse, and Bob Cole from the Exploratory Initiatives & Partnerships workgroup, is a three-stage video production plan that includes capturing a pre-teaching conversation with each instructor to describe the CBI lesson, multi-camera documentation of the students and class to contextualize the lesson, and finally a post-lesson dialog with the instructor to reflect on the lesson and underlying principles. Jason’s vision is that these videos will serve as the beginning of a rich pedagogical library of CBI principles and practices that can be shared and accessed by a globally networked community of language education practitioners.

We’ll look forward to providing an update on this project at the end of the summer!


Dig Deeper:

“Estimates vary, but most agree that it takes anywhere from 100 to 500 years to produce an inch of topsoil.”

~ National Geographic


Photo by Anna Ogiienko on Unsplash

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