Technology key in offering Chinese classes at high schools
Chinese I teacher Dun Zhang already uses technology to take students on virtual trips to southern China or the Silk Road.
This year, technology made it possible to offer Chinese I at Coffman, Jerome and Scioto high schools.
"Without this, we probably couldn't offer Chinese at all three schools," district spokesman Doug Baker said.
The technology that makes the Chinese class available to Dublin eighth-graders and high school students is video conferencing that broadcasts Zhang to three different classrooms at once from the district's new technology center.
The video conferencing ability, along with online lessons and Zhang's visits to classrooms once a week, give students a blended learning experience the district is thinking about using more in the future.
"The plan is to keep offering more blended courses," Chief Technology Officer Michael Voss said.
The school offered online classes for summer school last summer and already has 150 students signed up for this summer, but the blended classes offer a mix of online and in-person learning.
In science classes, for example, students would learn some things online, but have labs in person, Voss said.
"The blended model has work online and you can go to the building to do face-to-face discussions and ask questions," he said.
Chinese I is all about getting students talking in Chinese, Zhang said, and the blended model allows that.
"When I visit them, we do interactive speaking or cultural presentations," she said.
Mondays and Fridays, Zhang teaches three classes from the district Technology Center. Tuesdays through Thursdays, she visits the classrooms in person.
Students have two days on their own to do online lessons Zhang made with audio or video elements.
Students are given a timeline in which they must complete assignments, such as completing a quiz by Tuesday night or recording a speaking prompt by Friday.
"They can submit it at home," Zhang said. "I've seen them do speaking prompts at home or in their bedroom."
Seeing students in person once a week has given them more excitment for the subject, Zhang said.
"Students look forward to seeing me," she said. "I see more enthusiasm from students and a lot more respect."
A teacher is in each classroom Monday and Friday when the three classes meet online to get things set up and monitor the students, Voss said.
"They join the conference through a website on a computer that is being projected online," Voss said, noting students can see the teacher, other classes and work being done on an interactive screen.
Students can even work in groups with classmates from other schools.
"(Students) who decided to stay responded positively to the format," Zhang said. "They can work at a relatively flexible schedule."