Skilful methods can achieve what power cannot: Flexible Delivery of Sanskrit at the Australian National University as a Model for Small-enrolment Languages

McComas Taylor, Beth Beckmann

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Sanskrit is better known for its antiquity and profundity than for its ability to attract undergraduates, so Sanskrit classes in Western universities have always been small. Yet as universities find themselves squeezed for funding, few can afford to offer courses that routinely attract low numbers, and many have already closed their doors to would-be Sanskrit students. At the Australian National University, however, enrolments are increasing because of our use of educational technologies to provide flexible delivery of Sanskrit teaching. With texts, audio resources and video-recorded lectures available online, and face-to-face tutorials presented through video-conferencing, Australian students can now benefit from high quality, accredited undergraduate courses in Sanskrit regardless of where they live. Two years after introducing flexible delivery, Sanskrit enrolments have doubled, students are thriving, and accountants are being held at bay. The future also looks bright, with a promise of substantial growth in enrolments nationally and even internationally. Surprisingly, the greatest obstacles to the introduction of flexible delivery have not been technological, but administrative. Through examining the experiences of lecturer and students, this paper discusses the pros and cons of flexible delivery of a small enrolment language for the university sector.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)245-253
    JournalElectronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching
    Volume6
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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