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Get Away From the Gap! - An Innovative Approach to Learning Content Design for Language Courses

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“Get away from the Gap!” – An Innovative Approach to Learning Content Design for Language Courses

Timo Kozlowski

Teacher, Learning Content Designer, Goethe-Institut Thailand

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Presentation Slides


Most of existing e-learning language courses suffer from bad content design with a strong emphasis on closed grammar exercises, so there is not enough attention on any language’s primary goal: communication. So the focus of learning content design for language courses should focus more on communication skills. This is especially important professional use of language, like in the tourism industry.

To boost develop in the region, the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded the conception of a German course for tourism in the Tsunami-affected regions, in the case of Thailand, Phuket. The language course was targeted towards professionals in the tourism industry with some basic knowledge of German. Also, the course was conceived as a blended learning course with learning content provided through a Learning Management System (Moodle, in this case) to give the students an opportunity to improve their German knowledge without having to stop working during course time.

In the design of the German language course our primary goal was to tackle this i ssue about the relevancy. On the one hand, existing material usually has no specific target group, especially in local aspects. So we included information and material directly from Phuket, Thailand, because the course is be held there. On the other hand, we opted to move away from more closed forms of E-Learning exercises, e.g., gap-filling exercises. Instead, we concentrated on open assignm ents that focuse on communication skills and social interaction, like forum and chat assignments.

Included in this course are also contact classes every Saturday, in which communication skills are further practised, and also new grammar structures introduced.

This course was held two times now – one time as part of the German curriculum at Prince of Songkhla University. Both times, students and teachers were delighted with the results


Prof YoungWan Kims Keynote at Rajabhat Suan Dusit

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Prof. YoungWan Kim from South Corea's Pusan National University, and also Chair of the APEC Future Education Consortium presented in his keynote for the E-Learning e-Learning Strategies : Edutainment Conference at the Rajabhat Suan Dusit University, Thailand on 12th of March 2077 a bold vision of an Edutainment Park for the APEC region with a stress on value-based education. As Prof. Kim has put it with his own words into the abstract for his keynote:

As to the unexpected future society and rapid changes of technologies, world famous scholars and experts have deliberated ideal model of future society and suggested a way to overcome the challenges of future society. APEC Future Education Consortium is the for developing a community model of future education, embodying a 'Total-supporting System,' and advancing research activities to meet the challenges of the IT-based future society with emphasizing value oriented society and considering the harmony between technologies and human being through implementing the EduPark.

In his Introduction, Prof. Kim noted that future predictions in the past did not come true, be it the totally computerized classroom without a teacher (as seen in the 1960's), or be it Alvin Toffler's 1989 prediction that degrees become obsolete before the year 2000. Although a precise prediction is not possible (upon which I strongly agree),  Prof. Kim shared the oppinion, that "the role and function of education will be getting more important in the future", and that "the educational method will be changed into a new way (in particular, centered on high-tech)", which means that the underlying curricula, educational philosophy, and so on have to change, too. In addition to this, Prof. Kim also stresses the importance of values in future education.

Following this, Prof. Kim defines 6 Challenges and Tasks for school education for future education.

  1. Future education should consider multiple paradigms and methodologies instead of being based upon only one. In this task, Prof. Kim criticises the concentration on a western view point on educatio, and the general under-valuation of a specific eastern point of view. Also, apart from technological and economical aspects, other aspects should be taken in acount, too, e.g. psychological, social, economical aspects, so that in the end there is a balance between economic development and enhancement of social welfare.
  2. The second task that Prof. Kim pointed out, is the question of living in harmony with one's community. Here, he discusses how to lead a "Healthy Life" which does not only rely on external factors that focus on the body, and that will leads to being stressed to acquire the latest trends of "Being Well". One way to lead a "Healthy Life", as Prof. Kim suggests, is voluntary work, like for organications like Greenpeace, Lions Club, or Rotary Club.
  3. The third task is to combine web-based e-learning with face-to-face learning into a blended learning model.
  4. The fourth task is to build nature-friendly schools, or to bring schools into a nature environment. For this task, Prof. Kim mainly refered to his project of the above-mentioned Edutainment Park (or EduPark). This park should be planned and established on an international scale to make intercultural learning better accessible. On Prof. Kim's website, there seems to be more information on EduPark - if you can read Korean.
  5. The fifth task, Prof. Kim argues, is the return of schools to a more human- and value-center education. "This is because the more complex and fast pace the society becomes, the more important becomes the virtues of moral and ethical decisions in designing one's life based on one's individual character."
  6. The last task is to invoke a spirit of sharing among future educators. Prof. Kim alludes here to Open Source projects like Linux, which he sees as a model for educators to share their learning materials as the Open Source programmers do. However, this spirit of sharing should not stop at the level of the individual but also include the level of public education institutions. As an example, he quote South Corea's Edunet. (UNESCO gives a brief overview about Edunet.)

These tasks are seen to be combined in APEC Edutainment Park by Prof. Kim. His definiton of Edupark:

  • international learners and teachers exchange
  • nature-friendly learning and experiences
  • schools are linked to schools in other cities
  • high tech meets nature
  • combination of domestic and international learning in virtual and natural environments
  • leads to reflection on experiences through learning, playing and adventure.

EduPark could be, in Prof. Kim's opinion, a turning point towards a value-centered society and education.

My thought about Prof. Kim's keynote

In general, Prof. Kim's asien point of view (as a Korean) was clearly visible in his demand for a value-centered and holistic approach towards EduPark. Although I admire the boldness of his plan, some aspects of it seem to be a little sketchy, as it appeared in the keynote.

The thing I still the most unclear about are the values. As I have lived in Thailand for some years now, I came to the conclusion that the word value alone is a meaningless word, because values are culture-specific, perhaps even specific for each individual. What I, as a German, mean when I use the word value, does not have to have the same meaning for a Thai or a Korean. So, if you talk about values, you have to be more specific (in my point of view) if you want to understood by somebody else. Regarding the examples that Prof. Kim gave, I can conclude what he supposedly means, but it's a little bit close to arbitrariness.


Suan Dusit Conference - The Keynote Speakers

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The Activity A - meaning the Academic part - of the E-Learning Conference at the Rajabhat Suan Dusit University is now over. Sadly, I cannot participate in Activity B due to work. But anyhow, the last two days were a phantasticly organized conference with interesting presentations which gave me a lot of new ideas and impressions. In the coming days, I will sort them out and share here on my website.

Today, just two pictures from the two keynote speakers.

Prof. YoungHwan Kim

Prof. YoungHwan Kim from Korea's Pusan National University presented a bold vision on a Amusement Park which focuses on Education.

Prof. Peter Woods

Prof. Peter Woods from Malaysia's Multimedia University was talking about the (from his point of view) obsession of E-Learning creators with fun.

I will cover these two keynotes later on in more detail.


E-Learning 1.0 and E-Learning 2.0

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E-Learning 1.0 and E-Learning 2.0 - Two sides of the coin and how they can blend together

My Paper for the International E-Learning Conference at the Rajabhat Suan Dusit University is also available in PDF-Format.


Through the usage of web 2.0 technologies, e-learning also is in a process of change. E-Learning 2.0 focuses more on collaborative, student-centered, and open learning techniques, while for E-Learning 1.0 sophisticated but closed multimedia applications was more important. This paper will discuss the different educational ideas behind these two modes of E-Learning, and argue that despite some fundamental differences in concept they might be blended together.



Suan Dusit Conference

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I will attend the International E-Learning Conference "e-Learning Strategies: Edutainment" organized by the Rajabhat Suan Dusit University, Bangkok, Thailand. My paper about E-Learning 1.0 and E-Learning 2.0 was accepted, and so I'm gonna present it tomorrow, 14.30.

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