A collaborative effort to develop computer-based, multi-media teaching materials for college-level German courses has led to the publication of "Weiter geht's!" for second-year students.
Released earlier this year, "Weiter geht's!" ("Let's Keep Going!") continues the multi-media "Auf geht's!" ("Let's Get Going!") published in 2005 for beginning German students. Both packages are produced by Live Oak Multimedia Inc. and distributed by Evia Learning Inc.
Dr. Lee Forester of the Hope College faculty is the initiative's co-creator and project director. The development team also includes Dr. Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim of the Calvin College German faculty, and David Antoniuk and Olga Antoniuk of Live Oak Multimedia Inc.
Like "Auf geht's!," "Weiter geht's!" is designed as a complete curriculum for one year of language instruction and immersion into German life and culture. Both packages blend computer-based multi-media materials that include audio clips and photographs, a work book/study guide ("Lernbuch") that emphasizes reading and writing, and class time focused on conversation.
The emphasis on not only language but also on Germany itself stems from Forester's belief that language instruction cannot be separated from learning about the history and culture of the nation or region involved.
"'Weiter geht's!' addresses both language and culture - learners not only achieve intermediate language proficiency but also broad knowledge of German history, geography and intellectual movements," said Forester. "Students practice identifying and negotiating cultural differences, both in terms of the products as well as cultural practices, and become increasingly familiar with Germany through the use of thousands of authentic photos."
The project's integration of different media with classroom instruction follows his conviction that each has strengths that together will provide a richer learning experience than any serving alone.
"We feel that students need a variety of media to learn effectively: multimedia, audio, imagery, print materials, typing and writing opportunities, various person-to-person interactions," Forester said. "Each of these communication 'media' has pros and cons and one must have a coherent approach to integrating them for maximum effect."
The software component includes Germans engaged in unscripted, everyday conversations and images showing German sites and life taken specifically for the project. David Antoniuk of Live Oak Multimedia, the project's co-creator and technical director, and Forester conducted more than 100 hours' worth of interviews and shot more than 30,000 photographs in Germany across six years for "Weiter geht's!"
Forester began working on "Auf geht's!" and "Weiter geht's!" in 1997. The project received external support including a $50,000 grant from the Foundation for Independent Higher Education's 1998 "Ameritech Distance Collaboration Grants" Program and, in 2001, a $495,870 grant from the Fund for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) of the U.S. Department of Education. Both external grants emphasized institutional collaboration, and in addition to Hope and Calvin schools with faculty involved in different phases of the project included Carnegie Mellon University, TaylorUniversity and Wheaton College.