By Andrew Ross (IALLT President), Angelika Kraemer (IALLT President-Elect), Felix Kronenberg (IALLT Past President), Stacey Powell (IALLT Treasurer), Betsy Lavolette (IALLT Programs Director), Shannon Donnally Spasova (IALLT Secretary)
The International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT) is an organization that has been focusing on issues in language learning and teaching with technology for over 50 years.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout, the IALLT Board would like to make the following recommendations to administrators of language programs and language centers or other academic units that support language teaching, as well as faculty and staff.
- Administrators should encourage their institutions to provide synchronous classroom systems (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams) that are available to all faculty in case of an emergency.
- Administrators should make training available for course management systems (e.g., Blackboard, Canvas, Moodle), online office software (e.g., Microsoft Office 365, Google Drive), and synchronous classroom systems and encourage all faculty to use them in advance of an emergency.
- Language administrators should consider identifying a number of faculty who will be trained in best practices in online teaching and who can serve as support for other faculty who need more help in moving online.
- Administrators and department chairs should recognize and reward the time and training needed to transform courses that were developed to be delivered face-to-face to an online format that successfully takes advantage of the affordances of the online environment.
- Administrators and department chairs should consider whether student evaluations should be eliminated from annual evaluations of instructors who were not properly trained to teach online or given adequate time to move to emergency remote teaching.
- Administrators should consider allowing students to choose a pass/fail option if the course delivery format has to be changed abruptly mid-semester.
- Administrators and faculty should recognize that emergency online delivery of face-to-face courses does not represent best practices in online education and should not be taken as representative of what trained professionals produce.
- Administrators and faculty should consider moving more of their courses to an online or hybrid format to facilitate the move to remote teaching in the event of an emergency.
- Faculty should consider attending workshops and programs about teaching online that are specific to language learning (IALLT offers regular webinars and articles on these topics in the FLTMAG).
- Faculty should consider preparing a contingency plan for the major assignments of each course that can be relied on in case of an emergency situation.
- Faculty who do not have much time to prepare to teach online should rely most heavily on the applications and platforms supported by their institutions. This will make the transition easier for students, who may already be familiar with them or using them in other courses as well. It will also simplify the process needed to obtain help or training.
- Faculty who are teaching languages that use non-Latin alphabets may want to consider teaching their students to type early in their language learning career. Typing is an essential twenty-first century skill, and helps to give instructors more choices about what types of applications they can use in case they need to teach remotely.
- Faculty should adopt new technologies carefully. Because each tool requires a certain learning curve and time commitment to learn, faculty should limit the number of new tools to introduce to students, and plan to use the same tool more than once if appropriate.
- Faculty should reconsider the types of assessment they use for their courses. Since traditional types of assessment are more difficult to implement in an online context, alternative approaches for demonstrating mastery should be considered.