Can the teacher be taken out of the teaching? A pilot project on intensifying a course in English and its implications for results, motivation and workload
Keywords:English, wiki, e-learning, intensive course
The increasing number of master's degree courses taught in English has created a rising demand for English language courses at our university. These courses last one semester, which presents problems for exchange students, who sometimes arrive when the semester has already started, but also for regular students, who experience clashes in their schedules in the second quarter of the semester as most other courses are organized in a period of seven weeks. To cope with these problems we decided to change a 14 week-course into an intensive 7-week course with a prominent role for ICT. In the new course we decided to use the standard digital learning environment at our university (Blackboard) for instruction and a wiki for interaction and collaboration, with both tools taking over part of the teacher's role. We ran two pilot projects with a total of 19 students. The course was also offered in its regular form to a group of 15 students. After the course, all the students were asked to fill in a questionnaire in which we asked their opinion about the use of ICT and the general usefulness of the course. The questionnaire showed that the students liked using the wiki and Blackboard but some indicated that they would have liked more time to practise their oral skills. Students from the pilot group on average reported to have spent less time on the course than students from the regular course, although they still thought of the course as having a heavy workload. When it comes to teaching hours, contact time in the classroom was decreased to 14 hours, but outside the classroom teachers put in just as many hours marking work and communicating with students as they did in the regular course.
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