Teaching Languages Online (TLO)
As the demand for online learning grows, teachers are being asked to teach or create online courses, but many of these teachers have little or no experience with online learning, either as teachers or as online learners themselves. Wood (2005) maintains that even for veteran teachers in the classroom, the transition to online teaching is difficult; teachers who are comfortable in the classroom are not necessarily good online teachers (Sidebar section). A completely online course has special issues and differences that teachers of traditional or even hybrid courses (where teachers have added some online components to their face-to-face courses) will not encounter (Conrad, 2004; Davis & Roblyer, 2005; Kassop, 2003). Teachers need additional faculty development to learn new teaching methods and techniques for online courses and to learn about the needs of the online learner (Palloff & Pratt, 2000, 2001, 2003). "It has been well documented that faculty need training and assistance to make the transition" to online teaching (Taylor & McQuiggan, 2008, para. 1).
Teaching Languages Online Project
To address the needs of online language teachers, the TLO project has these goals:
- The CARLA technology project presented the results of a survey that addresses the preparation and support that language teachers receive in order to teach online.
- A resource bibliography has been collected with around 600 resources to search for information on the preparation of teachers to teach online, both general and language-specific, along with guidelines, best practices, and dissertations about teaching online. There are also a variety of information on technology that would be helpful for online teaching.
- Workshops for experienced and new online language teachers and support staff have discussed challenges and successes with teaching online at international conferences (IALLT and CALICO) that focus on languages and technology. As a result of the first workshop at IALLT 2011, a ning was established to create an online discussion group for online language teachers - a place where they can share their experiences, ask questions, and offer support to each other as well as those who are just starting with online teaching. It has been disbanded for lack of participation, but other venues and groups are continuing the idea: check out the DL SIG at ACTFL.
- A first step towards training teachers to teach online is the completely online technology summer institute on using the web for communication. Social networking applications are useful to both online and face-to-face teachers, in their classes as well as for professional development. Offered first in 2011, it is now offered every summer, and gave a start to the STARTALK program, Transitioning to Teaching Online.