University of Wisconsin–Madison

Distance Education Courses

In the summer 2019, SEASSI plans to offer Burmese, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese language classes for students at a distance, in conjunction with our classes in the regular college classroom setting. No more than two distance “seats” will be available per class. The following pages contain information about our distance learning classes. If you are interested in enrolling in distance learning at SEASSI, please read all of the following information carefully!

Thai cohort with distance students

Online class format and student expectations:

In keeping with our commitment to the development of communicative ability, SEASSI online instruction will be synchronous, intensive, and tightly scheduled. Rather than individual work, instruction will be classroom-based, that will involve students at different locations working together in a synchronous format. Work and study approaches will differ according to language and level, but students will have to prepare for each session by completing assigned work and will be expected to participate actively while online.

Online classes will be held Mondays through Fridays, 8:00 am to 12:30 pm, Central Daylight Time.

Depending on the number of distance students who want to enroll in a SEASSI class, you might be in a class that is comprised entirely of distance education students, or you might be in a class where some students meet face-to-face with the instructor while others participate from remote locations. The format we will be able to offer you will depend on the number of students enrolling in the class. For more information, please contact us by email or telephone 608-263-1755.

Program Dates:

Online classes will begin on Monday, June 17, 2019 and will extend through Friday, August 9, 2019.

Academic Goals:

The goal of SEASSI is to teach the equivalent of an entire academic year (two semesters) of language instruction over the course of the intensive summer program. This is a full academic load. In addition to classroom time (8:00 am to 12:30 pm CDT) Mondays through Fridays, distance education students should expect to spend anywhere from three to five hours per day on homework assigments. This is the same homework load as that expected of SEASSI students in a traditional classroom setting. Given the intensive nature of the program, students are advised not to take other courses for credit during SEASSI.

Attending SEASSI online from home (or cafe or any other noisy, distracting location):

Participation from a distant location will require a high speed, wired internet connection. Distance students are required to create a learning environment for themselves that is free from noise, foot traffic, or other distractions. A cafe or shopping mall would not provide an appropriate setting. We recommend that distant students utilize the language lab at their home college or university, if possible.

Computer System and Equipment Requirements:

Depending on the number of online students signed up for a SEASSI class, online participation will occur in one of three ways: internet videoconferencing, two-way interactive videoconferencing, or virtual attendance in a live classroom via a tablet. SEASSI administrative staff will work closely with each distance education student about which mode of online presence will be used in his/her case.

It is imperative that each distance student be at a wired (i.e., NOT wireless/Wifi) broadband connection, so that all audio and video signals are as fast as possible. You will be expected to work with SEASSI tech support staff, prior to the beginning of classes, to test out your computer equipment and internet connection. It is extremely disruptive to the instructor and classmates when a distance student’s signal is weak, choppy or frozen. The distant student is responsible for maintaining adequate bandwidth and computer speed to ensure smooth, clear audio and video signals. Distance students who fail to do so will be asked to leave the class until the technical issues are resolved, and no tuition refund will be given to distance students in this circumstance.

The minimum requirements of your computer system for this mode of instruction are well beneath what most computers are typically capable of:

2 GB RAM minimum, more recommended
20 MB free disk space
Soundcard
Headset with microphone/headphones, or speakers and a good-quality echo-canceling microphone
Webcam

We recommend that students take advantage of the resources available at local college or university language labs. A typical college language lab offers very high speed internet connections, powerful computers, good-quality headsets, and an environment that is ideal for language learning.

Internet videoconferencing: If we have four or five online students all enrolling in the same class, we will create a separate, online section of that class. Students will meet online with their instructor via UW-Madison’s internet videoconferencing software.

Interactive two-way videoconferencing: SEASSI will have access to at least one interactive two-way videoconferencing (ITV) unit for summer 2018. We anticipate using this for a class that has a small enrollment (2 or 3 students) on the UW-Madison campus and 1 or 2 additional students who want to participate from a distance. In this scenario, one teacher will incorporate both face-to-face and distance students into one class, using the videoconferencing technology. You, the online student in this mode, will be connecting to the ITV unit either via personal computer or via an ITV unit on your home campus. As with internet videoconferencing, you will be expected to work with SEASSI tech support staff, prior to the beginning of classes, to test out your computer equipment and internet connection.

Vietnamese class with distance student via tablet

Virtual attendance in a live classroom via a tablet: In some classes, we may be able to incorporate one or two distant students into our regular summer classrooms. In this model, the distant student is “present” on a desk in a language classroom via a tablet. The online students in this mode will be connecting to the tablet in the classroom via a desktop or high-quality laptop computer. Each distance education student will be expected to work with SEASSI tech support staff, prior to the beginning of classes, to test out his/her computer equipment and internet connection.

We recommend that students take advantage of the resources available at local college or university language labs. A typical college language lab offers very high speed internet connections, powerful computers, good-quality headsets, and an environment that is ideal for language learning.

What to expect in an online language classroom environment:

Summer 2019 will be the seventh summer that SEASSI offers classes in distance education formats. Our instructional staff are experts in language teaching, and many of them have decades of teaching experience. They are truly gifted, wonderful teachers! Teaching language online, however, will be a rather new experience for many of our instructors, and we expect that teachers may occasionally run into software or equipment problems requiring technical support. SEASSI tech support staff will assist in resolving such problems as quickly as possible. Students should also expect to occasionally run into software or equipment problems. In the months and weeks prior to instruction, SEASSI tech support staff will work with each individual distance education student to work out as many technical difficulties as possible, and will similarly assist after classes begin.

Learning a second language in a distance format will always be more challenging than face-to-face in a classroom. We strongly recommend that students attend SEASSI in person, rather than online, if at all possible. If you cannot attend SEASSI in person, however, our goal is to make your online learning experience as productive and positive as possible.

Below is a list of the most common problems faced by our online students, and the solutions. As you can see, using the right equipment and having a fast connection speed will be critical to your success as a distance education student.

Problem: Audio system echos.
Solution: Use a headset with a microphone, and make sure all other microphones and speakers connected to your machine are turned off.

Problem: Video signal is jerky/frozen/not in sync with audio.
Solution: 1) Make sure you have a broadband connection.
2) Make sure you are connected to it by a wire. Wireless connections are far slower than wired connections and will not be acceptable.
3) Use a computer that has a fast microprocessor speed, and a dedicated graphics card.

Problem: Audio signal is delayed.
Solution: 1) Make sure you have a broadband connection.
2) Make sure you are connected to it by a wire. Wireless connections are far slower than wired connections and will not be acceptable.
3) Use a computer that has a fast microprocessor speed, and a dedicated graphics card.

Ultimately, the greatest challenge in an online, synchronous learning environment like SEASSI distance education is that each student in the classroom (i.e., each “node” of linked computers) has an enormous impact on the success of everyone’s learning. The classroom functions only as well as the slowest computer in the group. Therefore, SEASSI reserves the right to deny or revoke admission to a student who is unwilling to take the steps necessary to fix connection or equipment problems.