This semester, 3 high school students are taking a college-level Chinese language course totally online. The program is coordinated by CAPE. Many of us remember CAPE from when it’s main mission was to help facilitate video conferencing between schools in remote/rural area. Over time, the organization has transformed itself into a coordination point for collaborative educational initiatives and virtual learning. CAPE is offering Chinese, Japanese and at some point, Arabic by-way-of an online classroom.
For the virtual Chinese course, our students connect to the remote language professor by utilizing collaborative tools such as Moodle and real-time software conferencing via Elluminate. Ellen and I visited the virtual Chinese class today and were impressed with our students’ tenacity and the online platform. It drives home the point that synchronous, instructor-led learning really makes a virtual environment come alive.
My personal impression? Oh my… Chinese is a tough language- both in terms of learning the writing system and physically making sounds that are so different to a native English speaker’s ears. More power to these 3 vanguard students as they venture into the district’s first virtual language course, earn college credit for their efforts and master a language spoken by approximately one-fifth of the world’s population!