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Vanderbilt U Hosts Conference on Distance Learning for Less Common Languages

Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN is hosting a workshop on distance learning for rarely taught languages. The event takes place on March 17 and 18 and is sponsored by the Centers for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt, the University of Utah and the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs.

The Workshop on Sustainable Partnerships for Latin American LCTLs through Distance Learning is intended "to promote the creation of sustainable academic year programs in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) of Latin America through course sharing using distance-learning technology," according to information on the site.

Workshop topics include:

  • Successful models for sharing courses through distance learning technology;
  • Available distance learning technology and challenges;
  • Questions and concerns about the quality of distance learning pedagogy;
  • Administrative hurdles and potential paths to establish institutional partnerships for course sharing through distance learning; and
  • Pragmatic concerns related to successful course sharing.

Vanderbilt and the University of Utah both offer distance education courses in less commonly taught languages of Latin America. Vanderbilt offers a distance education course in K'iche' Mayan, an indigenous language of Guatemala. The University of Utah offers distance learning courses in Nahuatl, an indigenous language of Central Mexico, and Kichwa, which is spoken in Ecuador, Colombia and Peru. In September 2015, Vanderbilt partnered with Duke University and the University of Virginia to allow students at those schools to study K'iche' Mayan, and in turn Vanderbilt students can take distance education courses in Tibetan and Haitian Creole.

"Given the precarious nature of funding for instruction in indigenous and other LCTLs, there has been great interest among area-studies centers in developing partnerships that allow sharing of instructors and students across universities," said Avery Dickins de Girón, executive director of Vanderbilt's Center for Latin American Studies, in a news story on Vanderbilt's site. "Distance learning technology offers us a viable means to do this, but there are still many challenges to establishing collaborations, as well as practical questions regarding technology and pedagogy. This workshop is designed to address some of these issues, and to give participants an opportunity to identify potential partners for language exchanges."

Further information about the conference can be found on Vanderbilt's site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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