Teaching Area Studies through Two Different On-line Platforms

Valentina Marinescu

Abstract


E-learning includes forms of teaching supported by the Internet, computers, mobile devices, video tapes, and satellite TV. The term can apply both to out-of-classroom and in-classroom teaching. In recent years e-learning has become increasingly popular at universities around the world, because technology is a part of virtually every aspect of life. Rapid evolution of communication has changed language pedagogy and language use, enabling new forms of discourse and new ways to create and participate in communities (Kern 2006, 1). Under such circumstances it is important to explore new possibilities in teaching new topics and to give students a taste of new challenges. According to Blake (2008, 2) technology, if used wisely, could play a major role in enhancing L2 learners’ contact with the other cultures and languages, especially in the absence of studying abroad. Traditional classes can become more interesting when combined with technology. Wong and Looi (2010, 14) claim that online-learning can fill in the gaps between formal learning styles. The present article presents the opinions and attitudes towards on-line set of courses for a sample of 80 Romanian students who were enrolled in an on-line learning project in “Area studies” - namely, East Asia Studies. The project covered two Academic years (2015 and 2016) and leads to the establishment of a virtual network of East European and Central Asia Universities on “Area Studies”. At the end of each course students were asked to fill a short questionnaire about the online course they attend. The results of this small-scale survey showed both the positive character of using e-learning tools for teaching “Area Studies” and their limitations. At the same time, due to the length of the project (e.g. two years covered through different courses) the results allowed to make a comparison between two online platforms used during classes – Bluejeans and Cisco Webex – and to devise the ways of improving the future uses of online platforms during the next Academic year’ courses.


Keywords


e-learning platforms, learning, students’ assessments.

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