Students enrolled at schools that are part of the Lehigh Valley Association of Independent Colleges (LVAIC), including Cedar Crest College, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Moravian College, and Muhlenberg College, are eligible to enroll in distance-education Italian language classes held at DeSales University.
The classes are scheduled throughout the week and broadcasted via video conference from the Gates Distance Learning Classroom at DeSales to assembled classes at other LVAIC schools. Two cameras are used for the lectures, one continually focusing on material written on a board or projected onto a screen and one following the teacher and on-site DeSales students asking questions.
The program started at DeSales in the fall of 2011 and has seen enrollment growth. Three Italian courses are taught by Silva Emiliani-Mowrey, lecturer in the humanities department, who grew up in Bologna, Italy, and has been teaching the class since its inception.
“I’m always very excited about trying new things. I didn’t know what to expect, but it seems like it’s working out,” Emiliani-Mowrey said.
Both Emiliani-Mowrey and Mike Yorgey, instructional media specialist and the operator of the classroom’s cameras, said there were occasional challenges with technology, such as audio delay, when the program started four years ago, but these glitches been smoothed out with the help of student feedback. According to Yorgey, the IT department also recently installed advanced fiber optics in the lecture hall-style classroom to ensure more reliable connections and to allow the capability to run increased amounts of data for the room’s multiple cameras.
During classes, Yorgey works closely with Emiliani-Mowrey to improve the learning experience for the combined thirty-one students from Lafayette College, Lehigh University, and DeSales University enrolled across the three classes.
“I always encourage Mike to show the DeSales students as much as he can so that the other sites are able to participate more and feel closer to us,” Emiliani-Mowrey said. She also makes an effort to further connect with her students, offering one-on-one tutoring sessions through Skype and hosting Italian dinners for students at her home.
DeSales freshman Scott Miller is currently enrolled in one of the two elementary Italian classes and said the learning process has been as effective as a traditional class yet simultaneously unique in other aspects.
“It’s about the same number of students as any of my other classes, but half of them are at other campuses,” Miller said. “But it was really cool to see them at [Emiliani-Mowrey’s] dinner. We don’t get as much interaction with them right before or after class as you normally would. We have a couple of class clowns, so it was funny to finally meet them in person.”
The Gates Distance Learning Classroom is housed in Campbell Hall. The first undergraduate course via videoconferencing between DeSales University and Lafayette College was taught in the fall of 1994.
In addition to the Italian language classes, the Gates Classroom is used by the University’s adult evening program (ACCESS) and the Master of Business Administration program.
“It’s even now to the point where if a student can’t make it to class, they have an application on their laptop that allows them to participate from their room.” Yorgey said. “Technology gives us a virtual classroom.”
See More Latest News >>