Vol. 5. No. 1 INT April 2001
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Sidebar: Interview with Course Participant

Jim Duber
duber dot com

Jim Duber: I understand that you've recently completed a teacher training course over the Internet. What can you tell us about it?

Fatimah Abdallah: The course I participated in was Authentic Materials in the English Language Classroom and the instructor was Margaret Sokolik. The course focused on using many different types of Authentic Material as supplementary or regular course material. Some of these included using Time/Newsweek Magazines, English Language Newspapers, Real Audio and other listening materials.

JD: What were the main issues confronted in completing the course assignments?

FA: Some of the assignments, as they were given, did not apply to the teaching/learning conditions here in Egypt. However, that was easily resolved by adapting the assignments to the environment here. Also, some of the materials to be used are not easily obtained here in hard-copy form and internet availablility in Egyptian Educational Institutes, especially private institutes, is almost non-existent. Again, adaptation of the materials and how they were to be used was the answer to this problem.

JD: How does participation in an online course compare to that of a traditional face-to-face course?

FA: Participating in an online course is much more convenient than attending a traditional course. Participants can log on to the internet at their own convenience... Except for the chat periods which were arranged to be convenient to all participants, join in discussions on each topic of study, and learn from every participant not just the instructor. For me especially it was more convenient as I am in Egypt and the course was given from UC Berkeley in the States... It would have been impossible for me to take this course if I had to actually attend.

JD: What do you consider the advantages and disadvantages of this online format?

FA: I did not find any disadvantage really...It was difficult sometimes to get my assisgnments to the instructor because of Internet connections. However, we worked it out in the end.

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