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“Web Education: A critical survey and critical analysis of on-line resources for research and learning in Language Studies — Case study in French and in Italian”

This pilot project aims at studying the evolution of “knowledge networks” such as Research & Education in selected areas in the Humanities (Theatre, Prose, Media, Arts and Culture) in various languages. The Language Department Consortium will offer in 2002-2003 a ROP299Y course on “On-line research and learning” in all of the Language Departments not only to observe and research the emerging phenomenon of online resources, learning and research but also to compile and share the results of the study at the inter-departmental level. This initiative aims at promoting true interdisciplinary research between Language Departments without renouncing the values of pursuing the study and research of single areas in each department. The objective of this initiative is to stress the importance of language acquisition in the context of globalization and to document pertinent online ideas, knowledge and resources. The project aims also at promoting the acquisition of skills in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) at the undergraduate level. It will allow faculty to study the ways in which students in Language Studies acquire knowledge and skills in ICT to prepare them either for the work market or their studies at the graduate level.

Objectives and methodology:
To make an inventory, a critical typology and online opinion surveys of WWW resources in the field of French Studies. This research will be carried out in the context of a project on the definition of new parameters of research in the Internet Age (for which funding is being requested in the SSHRCC Research Development Initiatives programme).

Number of student places available:
Indeterminate, but conditional on the students being able to read (and understand) web documents written in French. Training and discussions will be held in English.

Description of student participation:
Students will learn:

how to gather and classify online documentation,
b) how to elaborate and apply assessment criteria,
c) how to create and administer online questionnaires,
d) how to create web documents.

The main loci of activity will be the virtual one of the web site,, run by the applicant, and the physical ones of the research and development labs at UC and Carr Hall. The address for the FRE299 taught, in 2002-2003, by French Studies is:

To ensure the implementation of this inter-departmental research program on “Online Research and Learning”, the Language Department Consortium wishes to conceptualize and develop a collaborative environment such as a web architecture that will foster and support an intranet for the research network among faculty members and students in language studies across campus. The web architecture will offer also a public space with a portal to reach out to the international community and to let the public at large build on researched issues. Finally, the Language Department Consortium plan to hold think tank seminars and public lectures on this topic, on campus, online and at conferences such as at the “Learneds” to be hosted at U of T in 2002.

The database driven collaborative environment for this ROP299 will therefore allow for:

  • Dynamically generated content such as research results, a newsletter, conference listings, and news bulletins. All of the data and resources will be generated either by course members (faculty and students) or collaborators at the local, national and international levels.
  • A member database management system to allow for modification and update of course members and collaborators over the years.
  • Database querying. — Detailed login modules to allow archiving and management of statistics such as overall site traffic, pages viewed (how often, and where), provider and/or country the users are from.
  • A member discussion forum.
  • Member Profiling Infrastructure and Personalized Member Verification.
  • Archiving and management of collection of data & tools.
  • Archiving and management of questionnaires and surveys.
  • Dissemination and publishing of research results.
  • Online collaborative writing.

The challenges lie less in the development of materials and tools than in the management of student/student, faculty/student and course member/public-at-large interactions to achieve the desired outreach to communities at the local, national and international levels. The implementation of this collaborative environment will require the extensive use of hardware, software and servers provided and maintained by the Multimedia Centres for Learning in the Humanities, the Kelly library, the Information Commons and CHASS. Moreover, the Language Department Consortium has already implemented a strong collaboration with the Centre for Academic Technology at Robarts, the Mc Luhan program in Culture and Technology, KMDI and The University of Toronto Humanities Centre to get support and feed back during the conceptual and development phases of the inter-departmental collaborative environment.

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