Texas Tech University

For Faculty

Service Learning Course Enhances eLearning Education

by Joshua Blount, Editor

As a relatively young technology, eLearning has rapidly grown in popularity and changed the way that students are educated. Students can attend classes across states and even countries without ever leaving their homes. eLearning also increases the ways for students to learn, so teachers must also adapt to new methods of education. At Texas Tech University, Dr. Stefanie Borst and Linley Melhem are using service learning and eLearning to help today's teachers serve tomorrow's students.

This semester, Dr. Stefanie Borst and Linley Melhem are co-teaching the LING 5325 course, Technology for Second Language Teaching, to graduate students. The course focuses on how students can use technology, such as Blackboard, toward teaching a language. As a service learning project, the students work with instructors and professors of introductory foreign language courses at TTU that are moving their courses to a hybrid model. Borst stated, "I'm really trying to do to something where students can develop practical skills and create a technology-based teaching portfolio." By providing students the opportunity to make practical use of what they are learning, Borst and Melhem can supplement student teaching with "real-world" application.

The service learning aspect of this course sets it apart from most other courses. It helps educate students, while advocating for a larger eLearning focus in education. "Service learning in general is open and flexible in the sense that you're looking for some type of civic engagement and some kind of theoretical learning that are happening at the same time," says Melhem. "The cool thing about combining the eLearning component is that it makes it very accessible to a broader audience." Combining eLearning and service learning is not necessarily a new concept, but rather is unexplored because of the perceived disconnect that teachers would have from online and distance students. Borst hopes that an outcome from this course will be a change from this perspective. "As an overarching outcome, I hope to inspire my colleagues to offer more graduate and undergraduate courses using the hybrid model or other online options...using eLearning tools to teach a course can actually make materials more accessible; it doesn't remove you from the students completely."

In the future, Borst and Melhem hope to offer a series of workshops that allow a broader audience of faculty and grad students to benefit from what the grad students are learning. There may be a possibility for undergraduate students to benefit from this as well.

Graduate students who are interested in taking this course in future semesters can find more information in the Course Catalog or may email Dr. Stefanie Borst (stefanie.borst@ttu.edu) or Linley Melhem (linley.melhem@ttu.edu) directly.