Winter 2017 Updates
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Tech Center News

Issue 2 - February 2017 -

From the Directors

The Tech Center is moving forward with its mission to enhance The Language Flagship experience through the effective use of technology. In 2015 and 2016, the Tech Center engaged in a series of activities that brought together expertise in a wide spectrum of language technologies in academia and the private sector. The rich discussions generated at these gatherings resulted in Guiding Principles that have helped frame a strategy for Tech Center activities for 2017 and beyond.

These Guiding Principles include:

  • Inciting an ecology of innovation

  • Supporting technology infusion initiatives that promote, create and/or improve personalized learning, and

  • Fostering opportunities to use technology for learning on the go and in the wild.

In the three upcoming issues of Tech Center news, we will focus on each of these principles in turn and provide more information about The Tech Center activities that are underway to advance them.

Dr. Julio C Rodriguez & Dr. Madeleine K. Spring, Tech Center Co-Directors


Guiding Principle 1: Inciting an ecology of innovation

An ecology of innovation is alive and well in The Language Flagship community as evidenced by the initiatives being adopted and promoted. Three main activities have been designed to continue fueling an ecology of innovation: 1) implementation of blended learning pilots; 2) creation of a common open repository (the Flagship Commons); and 3) organization of a workshop for early innovators to share, optimize, and disseminate best practices.

Blended learning pilot

We are pleased to report that we received a very enthusiastic response to our call for collaborators to participate in the professional Chinese language simulation pilot, Green Ideas, Inc. 

  • Eight Chinese Flagships have completed the orientation
  • Seven Chinese Flagships are implementing the simulation this Spring
  • Three Chinese Flagships are exploring avenues for introducing the simulation into their Fall 2017 curriculum

Year of the RoosterWay to go Chinese language blended learning innovators!

Dr. Hui-Ya Chuang is the lead for the multi-institutional simulation activity. Dr. Chuang holds a PhD in instructional technology and is a native speaker of Mandarin.  Her research interests include how to motivate students in an online learning environment through the use of different multimedia elements, the use of Open Educational Resources in online course design and investigating which technology works best for students at beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels. Dr. Chuang was also the lead for the first test run conducted last spring at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa.

The Green Ideas, Inc. blended learning pilot was highlighted in Issue 1 of the Tech Center News. 

So what does Blended Learning mean anyway?

Blended Learning can be defined as a student-centered approach that entails purposeful, appropriate, and sustainable integration of technology (Gruba, Cárdenas-Claros, Suvorov, & Rick, 2016; Gruba & Hinkelman, 2012) which results in the creation of transformative learning experiences and optimizes the use of face-to-face and online environments. Blended learning requires the physical presence of both instructor and learner and offers some degree of learner control over time, place, path, or pace.

Due to the lack of clarity and agreement about its theoretical foundations, the term “blended learning” is sometimes used interchangeably with other terms such as “hybrid learning,” “flipped classroom,” and “technology-enhanced learning.” There are, however, important differences among these terms. Hybrid learning, for instance, is normally reserved for a course design model, in which some face-to-face instruction is supplemented with online work outside of class. Similarly, flipped classroom refers to the model of instruction in which language learners engage with the new content (usually in the form of a multimedia presentation) outside of class, whereas the class time is reserved for activities that help learners practice and reinforce their language skills. Technology-enhanced learning (also known as web-enhanced or technology-based learning) implies the use of technology to enhance or facilitate students’ learning by making it more flexible and accessible (e.g., through posting materials and resources online or engaging students in online discussions). 

In contrast, blended learning aims at leveraging technology to create transformative language learning experiences and changes in pedagogy (Bonk & Graham, 2006). It is the power to realize transformative learning experiences that adds value to the blended learning approach and distinguishes it from other models of instruction. 

Introducing The Flagship Commons

One of the challenges of supporting technology innovation in multi-institutional programs is the availability of a common repository to facilitate content sharing, be it for professional or language learning. The practicality of a common repository (and lack of one) was often mentioned in the symposia organized by the Tech Center during its first year. In response, the Tech Center is facilitating the creation of such a repository for The Language Flagship instructors using the CANVAS platform.*  

The Flagship Commons will be used to store and disseminate digital materials. Flagship instructors can contribute digital resources that have been created for language tutoring or instruction as well as for professional learning within The Language Flagship. Contributions will be curated by Tech Center staff and licensed through a Creative Commons license that attributes authorship and allows remix and reuse. Content will be quality controlled for language accuracy and supplemented with pedagogical resources for instructors or self-study notes for learners as appropriate.

*CANVAS has the capability for an interinstitutional common repository of resources and, according to our survey data, Canvas is the Learning Management System of choice in more than half of The Language Flagship institutions (see Table below). 

The lead for this activity is Ken Kiyohara. Mr. Kiyohara, Instructional Designer, brings in a balanced mix of professional and academic experience to the Tech Center. He holds Master’s degrees in “Teaching Japanese as a Second Language” and in Business Administration. He is currently undertaking the PhD program in Learning Design and Technology at the University of Hawai`i at Mānoa. He has worked for the University of Hawai`i Community Colleges as an International Program Coordinator and a Workforce Development Specialist. He served as President of the American Society of Training and Development (Hawai`i chapter) in 2009.
Connect with the Flagship Commons

Engaging our Community of Innovators

This spring, thirteen Flagships in multi-program languages will be reaching out to support and learn from each other’s best practices during a workshop in March. Extending Your Own Best Practices in Blended Learning Across Other Flagship Languages and Programs will bring together language technology experts, directors, instructors, and students. Flagship participants will have the opportunity to share, optimize, and disseminate their work through this initial network of early technology innovators. 

Kudos to this Language Flagship community of early innovators 
for sharing their best practices!

Table1. Summary of Canvas use, participation in blended learning simulation and best practices workshop


Bonk, C. J., & Graham, C. R. (2006). Handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Gruba, P., Cárdenas-Claros, M. S., Suvorov, R., & Rick, K. (2016). Blended language program evaluation. London, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gruba, P., & Hinkelman, D. (2012). Blending technologies in second language classrooms. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. 
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