The goal of the e-Kaqchikel project is the development of a technology-based program as an introduction to Kaqchikel Maya language and culture. The project evolved from a desire by the Stone Center for Latin American Studies to create technology-based teaching materials based on the intensive summer institute on Kaqchikel Maya language and culture, Oxlajuj Aj, founded and currently organized by Judith Maxwell, linguist and cultural anthropologist at Tulane University. Maxwell’s course methodology is based on the use of content-based second language instruction informed by the contextual exploration of basic forms of Kaqchikel Maya culture and cultural expression. The e-Kaqchikel project employs the used of this methodology as the core of the instructional design. The intent of the project is to create an interactive teaching and learning tool that is primarily driven by visual and spoken material therefore primary activities of the project team include filming, photographing, audio recording, and programming.
The consists of 3 specialists in Kaqchikel language and culture: Judith Maxwell, linguist and cultural anthropologist, Tulane University; Walter Little, cultural anthropologist, SUNY-Albany and currently co-director of the Oxlajuj Aj program; and McKenna Brown, one of the originators of the Oxlajuj Aj course and currently Director of the School of World Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. In the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, Tom Reese, Executive Director, is P.I. of the Title VI National Resource Center grant funding the project and Valerie McGinley Marshall, Director of Development and External Programs, is coordinating the overall project. The Stone Center is working in close collaboration with the Innovative Learning Center which provides the Tulane community with support in the creation of multimedia applications and technology support within pedagogy. At the ILC there are a host of team members working on various aspects of the project: Marie Carianna, Clay McGovern, David Robinson, Derek Toten and Lee Rubin, among others, who play various technological and organizational roles.
During Year 1 a variety of activities were undertaken as part of the planning phase of the project. In April of 2004, the Stone Center and ILC hosted a workshop in which the members of the team worked with an instructional technologist, John Vitaglione of San Diego State’s Language Acquisition Resource Center, and Lol May, Director of Research for OKMA, a Guatemalan-based institution whose goals include the production of linguistic studies and resource materials in Maya languages. During the workshop, the group discussed a variety of topics: technology-based language instruction; content and methodology of the Oxlajuj Aj course; geographical and cultural contexts amenable to filming; available human resources both in the U.S. and in Guatemala; and equipment needs of the technology project team. The meeting was very successful and one of the primary conclusions drawn from discussions was the identification of the possible overall theme or topic of the end product: daily activities, spirituality/cosmovisión, food, and healing practices. The team also identified the ideal times and locations during which to go to Guatemala to film and photograph.
In June 2004, three members of the project team, Marie Carianna, Valerie McGinley Marshall, and Lee Rubin, travel to Guatemala to begin filming and capturing materials for the course. They spent two weeks with the course filming dialogues, events, and capturing still shots of the teachers, scenes, and items hopefully to be used in the project. They also returned with a very limited vocabulary in Kaqchikel Maya.
Project progress in Year 2 consisted of digitizing and logging all of the video and still shots taken during the June 2004 trip and also mapping out the structure of the first exploratory unit. After reviewing meeting notes from April and actual footage and materials gathered from the June trip to Guatemala, the team determined that this first exploratory unit would focus upon the Market and use the symbol for seed, Quanil to represent that graphically. Four topics were decided upon that would branch out from the Quanil – greetings, numbers, food, and clothing. These topics coincided with the beginning topics covered by the Oxlajuj Aj course.
Development of the electronic resource has definitely had to diverge from the exact content of the Oxlajuj Aj course. It become clear from the first filming visit of the ILC team in June 2004 that it would be very difficult to re-create the teaching methodology of the course in an on-line or electronic format. The intent of the course became more of an introduction and supplement to the Oxlajuj Aj course rather than a re-creation of the course. The on-line/electronic version will focus on listening and oral production skills rather than reading and written production.
As of Summer of 2005 there remains quite a bit of work to be done on the project. A second filming and materials gathering trip is planned for July 2005 which will require digitizing and cataloguing in the fall. Design of the interface has begun with the production of this web site and will continue through the culmination of the project. Further content work will involve inviting two of the Kaqchikel Maya teachers to Tulane to work in a sound booth in order to increase the number of audio files both for the unit and supplemental materials for the project.