The Computer-supported Classroom

From a constructivist point of view, students start studying as independent learners who decide for themselves how much and what they study. Students not only have to learn which technical aid is available for translating, but they must also be able to learn how to understand new programmes on their own after having finished their studies.
Being aware of this, the first question asked is how teaching aids can be effectively distributed:

1. One computer per student
First, the teacher helps the students acquire the necessary basic knowledge. The more knowledge they acquire, the more the teacher withdraws from class and limits himself to merely providing food for thought. The most effective way to make students learn how to use a computer is to let them solve a translating problem and have them hand in their translation in a specific layout.
Advantage: Students acquire active knowledge related to their future profession and work under real life conditions.
Disadvantage: High costs.

2. One computer per class:
Material used in class is projected to a wall by means of an overhead projector or beamer, which is connected to the computer.
Advantage: Each student of the class concentrates on the same text example. Lower costs.
Disadvantage: When working in a team, the individual students might not come up with as many ideas as they would have in number 1. Teaching with only one computer per class might tempt students to not actively follow the class and evaluate what they have learned, but to be more passive.

Once the question of how learning aids should be distributed is answered, the question, which teaching method shall be applied. is still open. In his book "A Social Constructivist Approach to Translator Education", Don Kiraly provides four methods, which can also be applied in a computer-supported classroom:

1.One-to-many technique: Exchange of ideas between a teacher and his/her class.
2.Many-to-many technique: Exchange of ideas amongst the students (with or without the teacher) through discussions, role plays, brainstorming or groups working on one project.
3.One-to-one technique: Exchange of ideas between the teacher and one student, or between two students through online communication or e-mail tandem.
4.One-alone technique: Independent studying by making use of online data-bases, online magazines, Internet applications and newsgroups.


Overcoming obstacles: :
For students who come to the university with little knowledge about specific computer programmes, dealing with the highly developed computer programmes and using them for translating can be an obstacle almost impossible to overcome. To later be successful in working life, students have to acquire more than just basic knowledge on computers while studying, but how can they be made familiar with these programmes? One approach is to teach about hardware and software the same way a new language is taught: in an environment as natural as possible. In order to create such an environment, the teacher has to devise realistic situations in which the students can enlarge their own knowledge about computers. An example for this is working in workshops in which a group of students with knowledge on computers tutors students who are less familiar with using a computer for translating.


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