Integrating Computer and Multimedia Technology into German Literature Courses

  1. 1. David H. Chisholm

    Department of German - University of Arizona

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In recent years, computer technology and ease of
use have advanced to a point where it is both
feasible and practical to utilize new technologies
not only in the teaching of language, but also in
the teaching of literature. The new developments
offer some advantages over the traditional classroom format by providing an extended forum and
more time for multifaceted discussions of the texts
along with their cultural and historical contexts.
This paper will describe some examples of the
integration of computer and multimedia technology into a course which introduces third-year undergraduates to the study of German literature and
culture. I have taught this course before in the
traditional format and am currently preparing materials for the multimedia version which will be
offered for the first time from January to May
1996. Since I have not yet offered the course in
this new format, this abstract can only outline the
approach and procedures which I have been devising this fall. Results and conclusions based on
student achievements and their reactions to the
incorporation of computer technology in a foreign
language literature course will be included in the
final version of the paper next May.
Implementation: Student assignments are being
designed to encourage written and oral discussion
based on multimedia presentations, listserv activities, e-mail exchanges, and the use of German
Studies resources on the World Wide Web. All
students in the class will have access to a German
Literature and Culture Listserv and to selected
German resources which I will make available on
the University of Arizona German Studies Homepage and my personal homepage. I am currently
expanding both of these WWW homepages.
For class presentations I will use selected visual
materials scanned from German books, newspapers, magazines, and exhibition catalogs, as well
as excerpts from audio and video recordings. These materials include texts, images, audio and video
clips on German writers, artists, actors, philosophers and musicians (e.g. Albrecht Drer, Martin
Luther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich
Schiller, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van
Beethoven, Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner,
Thomas Mann, Richard Strauss, Max Reinhardt,
Marlene Dietrich, Franz Kafka, Bertolt Brecht,
Kurt Weill, etc.).
One of the goals of “computerizing” this course is
to encourage student discussion about German
literature and its cultural context outside of as well
as within the classroom by means of the “German
Literature and Culture Listserv.” Students will
also be encouraged to search the Internet for archives and discussion lists on particular topics relevant to the class readings and discussion, and to
share this information with all members of the
class. Students will develop and practice efficient
search techniques for finding the most relevant
documents and other materials in a limited amount
of time.
Example of Specific Activities:
Each student will be asked to write a short essay
in German (about 2-3 pages long) on a specific
German literature/culture topic and post it via
e-mail to the German 302 listserv. Each class
member will be required to read three of these
essays and send short reader commentaries (about
1/2 page each written either in German or English)
to the authors. Students will bring print-outs of
their essays and commentaries to class for further
discussion, and then rewrite them before giving
them (or posting them) to the teacher for evaluation by a specific date. Use of the listserv will
hopefully encourage students to communicate
with each other and the instructor outside of the
classroom at their own pace and according to their
own time-schedules. This approach motivates students to learn and write for each other rather than
solely for the instructor, and should result in more
dynamic and informed discussions during class.
This assignment counts as a regular composition
assignment, and each student is evaluated on
his/her essay and three commentaries as rewritten
after class discussion.
Evaluation of the Multimedia Literature
and Culture Course
1. By Students: In the middle and at the end of each
semester, students will be asked to compare their
experience in this multimedia German course with
other literature and culture courses which they
have taken at the University of Arizona. Part I of
the evaluation form will ask them specific questions; Part II will ask for their general evaluation
and any comments they may have about the course.
2. By Instructor: Having taught this course before
in the traditional format, I will have a solid basis
for comparing the quality of the German essays,
exams, discussions and group work in the multimedia version with previous offerings of the course. I am currently establishing evaluation criteria
and designing an evaluation form.
Until now, most computer-aided instruction in
foreign language departments has been almost
wholly devoted to the teaching of language. My
paper will describe and evaluate innovations in the
application of computer and multimedia technology to the teaching of literature and culture in
foreign languages.

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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at University of Bergen

Bergen, Norway

June 25, 1996 - June 29, 1996

147 works by 190 authors indexed

Scott Weingart has print abstract book that needs to be scanned; certain abstracts also available on dh-abstracts github page. (

Conference website:

Series: ACH/ICCH (16), ALLC/EADH (23), ACH/ALLC (8)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC