Gabriele Dillmann, Professor of German at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, USA, and Diana Stantcheva, Professor of German at the American University of Bulgaria (AUBG) in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria, developed a set of connected courses which they have offered to their students over eight consecutive semesters. The idea for the project stemmed from the realization that collaborating can help students expand their proficiency in learning a second language. Gabriele had discovered early on, however, that seeking to link her introductory German class with German students was not effective, because German students had so much better command of English than her American students had of German. This led to the idea of working with a professor of another country whose students were also in formative stages of learning German.For Gabriele and Diana, this was an ideal pairing, because students in both of their classes approached the study of introductory German with the same basic proficiency.
Sometimes the linking of their two classes is asynchronous, though there are also occasions for connecting through video conferencing in real time. These sessions allow students to address one another in German; and in addition to helping accelerate language skills, the practice fosters inter-cultural learning among students, while also increasing their technology skills and understanding of technology etiquette. The two faculty partners observe that their students are more willing to speak in a second language with their counterparts in another country, with the result that they use the language to have more substantive and meaningful conversations.
The two faculty members have greatly enhanced their knowledge of pedagogical methods; they synchronize readings, schedules, and grading scales. In its first stages their project had employed a simple exchange of e-mails, advancing from there to a sophisticated engagement of technological tools.
Reflecting on their experience today, Gabriele speaks for both in affirming that “We would not want to teach without this opportunity again. It would make everything much less rich.” Diana adds, “With this collaboration, I am able to offer my students something different.”
For a 9:18 version of a conversation between Dillmann and Stantcheva, click here.
An extended (42:00) version of their conversation via Zoom can be found here.
The PowerPoint Slides that accompanied the February 11, 2017 presentation by Gabriele Dillmann of Denison University and Diana Stantcheva of American University of Bulgaria can be accessed through this link.
More information on their Course Collaboration Project can be found here.
An article on the project co-written in English by Gabriele Dillmann and Diana Stantcheva can be found here.
The Global Course Connections Project is a core element of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance. A description of this GLAA opportunity can be found here. If you are interested teaching a GLAA connected course, please contact your GLAA Campus Liaison. You can also contact Simon Gray, who is Program Officer of the Global Liberal Arts Alliance: firstname.lastname@example.org.