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Although Zoom lectures are generally not as enjoyable as the in-person lectures we treasure in residential education, one of the affordances of online teaching is the ability to use videoconferencing tools to bring guests into the classroom without the usual barriers of physical distance (and travel budgets!). This is especially promising for global language and culture classes where we seek to provide students authentic opportunities to connect with native-speakers of the target language and with cultures across the globe.
A highlight of our Portuguese program is a collaboration between Music and Theatre Arts (MTA) and Global Languages. An annual music workshop brings Brazilian musicians into the classroom to share the rich Brazilian music heritage and perform original lyrics written in Portuguese by the students. With the shift to remote teaching, Portuguese Lecturer Nilma Dominique was disappointed that this year’s workshop could not be conducted on campus. But working together with her MTA counterpart Genevieve Dempsey, they found a creative way to make a virtual workshop happen:
“Today the MTA Music of Brazil and GL Portuguese II classes had their second workshop on Brazilian Music. We were not absolutely sure about continuing to offer the workshops virtually, but we got total support and encouragement from our sponsor, CAMIT, [Council on the Arts at MIT] to go on with this initiative. Although there’s no doubt that a face-to-face workshop would have been memorable and enriching, the artists did their best with the remote-learning tools. Students enjoyed the presentation and left very motivated, eager to learn more about the topic. We are glad to be able to bring students and the community together through music, art and culture.”