Online Language Learning Part 2: Online Sessions

As I have said earlier, I started a Greek languagte course online by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. The course is about to be completed, we will have our final exam next week. Last time I introduced briefly the online sessions which are done at least one time each week. This time, I will explain the details of the online sessions.

So, there are few hardware and software requirements for participation. You should have a camera and a microphone with a headset. You should have Adobe Acrobat, Flash and Microsoft Powerpoint. Preferred browsers are Firefox, Safari and Chrome. Before each online session our instructor sends an email with the entry link. When you click that link, you are directed to a webpage. This one tests your microphone, then you are in the class. You can mute/unmute your microphone and turn off your camera whenever you want. The interface is confusing at first glance but it is easy to understand. Presentation of the unit is in the middle of the screen. On left, there is a list of people who are in the course with you. On right, there is a chatbox, which can be used to message another student/your instructor /all of the class. We use it generally for pop-up writing quizes. For instance when we learn a new verb, the instructor asks us to write a sentece using that verb.

The presentation is same with the one that we complete during the week. In each session the instructor asks us if there is any part that we don’t understand. Then we continue the subjects of the course. During the course we mostly read the dialogues, cover the exercises and write short texts. The session lasts 45 minutes to 1 hour.

The benefits of the course are being able to ask any questions to the tutor about the unit, hearing and correcting your pronunciation and getting instant feedback on your writing skills. I think without online sessions, studying only the units themselves is not enough. However, in my opinion there are a few things that can be improved.

For instance, for me, the duration of the class is not long enough to create focus. In the first 10-15 minutes, I generally wait for others to connect. Often, because of slow bandwidth and such, me and other students have difficulty to communicate, this slows down the course’s tempo. nAnother problem is with the structure of the course. We pass over the same unit and the instructor controls all of the presentation for valid reasons of course. The course is not interactive enough despite the “interactive looking” interface of the online education platform. The online sessions are mostly one way: from unit presentation to the students. It would be interesting to see what will happen if the students are asked to talk about or write about something right in the beginning of the class and continue with the grammer and vocabulary of the unit if needed.

Next time I will write about the exams. Hopefully I will have passed by then.

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