The Daily Gamecock

French professor to be knighted

AudioVault improves student radio station’s programming

This fall USC professor Lara Lomicka Anderson will be knighted by the French government for her work with social media and the French language.

“What I wanted to do is establish a personal experience between my students and the students in France,” said Anderson of her project that has been in existence for five years in her French Communication and Culture class.

In the yearlong class, students are required to use Facebook, Skype, email and Twitter to communicate with French-speaking partners who live outside of Paris in Champagne.

“Before the class, I only used Facebook and email, and my friend had already signed me up for an account on Twitter prior to the class, but I never used it,” said fourth-year English student Lesley Smith. “Now I use Twitter regularly as well as Skype, which I never used before the class.”

Students in the class are required to tweet at least three times a week and to Skype their partners once a week, but Anderson confesses that as the program has gone on, she finds her students tweeting more than they had in the previous years.

“It’s a fun way to keep the language going on outside the four walls of the classroom,” Anderson said.

Smith, who signed up for Anderson’s section as a last-minute change, found the social media to be an integral part of the experience.

“It was wonderful to finally meet all of the students and already be friends with them because we had been chatting and Skyping with them the entire semester before,” Smith said.

Even though she took the class a few years ago, Smith is still in contact with those she met during the class.
“I do keep in touch with a few of the students, one in particular because we have been dating for a couple years now,” Smith said. “But I’ve been back to visit their university a few times now, so I get to see at least a couple of them each time I go.”

Anderson, who has a background in language education and technology, says the success of the venture is not because of the tool but instead because of the personal relationships that are built with them.

“I really liked [Twitter] because it really helps create a sense of community with the students in our class and even build our relations with the students in France,” Anderson said. “By the time we go over there, they pretty much know all of the students.”

Third-year music education student Briana Leaman echoed this sentiment.

“It is such a cool feeling knowing that you have friends — and not just people you know of but people you really have an association with and can relate to — in Paris, France,” Leaman said.

Leaman didn’t use Twitter prior to her class, but has continued to use it after the class ended.

“I think that the use of technology such as Twitter, Facebook and Skype were so great because it made us use French on a daily basis, even if what we were saying was mundane,” Leaman said. “The friends and connections I made along the way and the class’s built-in provision for ways to sustain them prevent me, thankfully, from letting this class and what I learned just become another ‘book on the shelf’ of my college learning experience.”

Anderson’s award will come from the Order of Academic Palms, which was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte to honor academic, cultural and educational figures. The Order awards individuals one of three grades: commander, officer and knight, the last of which, Anderson will receive. Awards are decided upon by the Minister of Education, currently Valérie Pécresse.


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