Sunday, June 01, 2008

Now the professor will take your questions...

Ah! The smell of springtime wafting through my nostrils after a lengthy and unusually subzero cold winter in Minnesota. I know, it is June 1st and I am belatedly sharing my joy with my readers. It may even sound kistchy to talk about the MN weather now that I've relocated to Southern California (especially yellow-sunny Camarillo). Oh, well.

Not long ago, I addressed my students via a teleconference on our videoclass #2 (Professional Ethics for Translators). My students attend a small college in Mar del Plata, Argentina (an often-mentioned fact here). They had viewed the corresponding videoclass almost a month in advance but, at the time of the moderated teleconference, had very few questions to ask. That was anticlimactic and, to a point, sad.

You see, my arrangement with the ISCEM (the abovementioned Mar del Plata college) is to design four videoclasses (one for every month in this term), followed by four teleconferences (all done through Skype). The main idea was to discuss different topics during each of the 1-hour-long videoclasses and give students the opportunity to lock in to the acquired knowledge with the help of moderated teleconferences where they could present me with questions.

The latter hasn't happened as expected. Most of the questions have centered on "what-if" market situations: what if the client asks me to translate into Castillian Spanish (the variety used in Spain), for example.

I asked the sitting professor if the students have been receiving the same scripts he got from me before every videoclass. The answer was no. There you have it. Leaving the students to remember a bunch of facts and theoretical discussions on, say, translator contracts or market dynamics in the translation industry from a 1-hour videoclass and expecting them to come up with probing questions a month later borders on irresponsible teaching, in my opinion. I further submit that it is unadvisable and unrealistic to expect students to take meaningful notes while watching a videoclass, especially since they have no further access to this multimedia material for review purposes after the class and before the matching teleconference.

I have suggested the ISCEM director to let me post the videoclasses on YouTube after they're viewed by the students, but so far I've encountered resistance and very little justification for it.

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