IBLC11-Abstract-Bridging the Gap between School and University: 'Get Ready for Languages'.

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Nannayi Dakat
16 May 2011

Author: Mrs Kirsten Sontgens

Abstract:

There is an urgent need to help students through the transition period from school or college into Higher Education and we have only just begun to understand how this might be best achieved, both in general and in disciplinary terms (see e.g. LLAS Report, 2006 ; Dr Marco Angelini, 2010, Transition Programme, Department of Educational Liaison, University College London, UK ;Institute of Historical Research, 2006 ).Identifying how and when first year students in Modern Languages at the University of Southampton can best be helped to make this transition has culminated in the development and delivery of a project to develop online approaches which are blended with further support after arrival. 

'Get Ready for Languages' (GRfL) is a pre-arrival online learning tool, introducing  undergraduate life and study in Modern Languages to inform, motivate and reassure incoming first year students. It is delivered online through Blackboard and aims to prepare students of French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin shortly before their arrival at the University.  Course content is blended using various media, including interactive orientation resources focusing on practical, social, academic and language elements of university life.  The resources comprise YouTube-style Talking Head videos of staff, students and alumni; interactive academic skill and language-related learning activities and language-specific content and web links.  Second year students act as eMentors, with Facebook and integrated discussion boards adding a further social dimension. The course has now been delivered over two consecutive summers, and undergone evaluation and refreshment twice since its first delivery in September 2009.

An evaluation of the online resource was conducted, tracking student take-up, and using questionnaires to explore how useful students found the resources to be.

This presentation will demonstrate the online content from 'Get Ready for Languages' and explore research findings to conclude how effective it has been. It will also explain the development process involved in the project

Keywords: eLearning; student engagement; blended learning; academic skills; social networking

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