Month: May 2017

International Students in Higher Education: More Than a Fish Out of Water

Congratulations to Kevin Martin, the Associate Dean of the School of Education, on his chapter, International Students in Higher Education: More Than a Fish Out of Water in Cultural Awareness and Competency Development in Higher Education.

ABSTRACT: The world continues to experience rapid advances in technology and transportation that increasingly expand opportunities and accessibility for international students to study in ways that were not possible even a few decades ago. Such changes create both challenges and solutions for the modern higher education institution in the U.S. With the goal of higher education to work toward opening minds and creating a space for sharing and learning within an open and diverse learning community, it is imperative that international students be incorporated in a way that engages and invigorates the quality of learning on campus. Some of the challenges to this notion include a variety of learner variables influencing how international students integrate into the broader learning community. This chapter focuses on some of these variables impacting international students with an emphasis on the problems, potential solutions, and critical areas for future research.

Access to the chapter can be found here:


Congratulations to Oyshakhon Eshonova

Congratulations to Oyshakhon Eshonova (Master of Arts in TESOL), Regional Scholarship Recipient!

Oyshakhon Eshonova (Tajikistan)

I would like to express my gratitude to Virginia International University for awarding me with a full tuition “Regional Scholarship”. There is no doubt that this contribution will excel my professional development and will motivate me to study harder.


Back in Tajikistan, I worked as an ESL teacher. Therefore, my decision of pursuing a Master in TESOL was obvious. I applied to several different institutions in the US. However, VIU has an advantage in campus size, location, affordability, and student body diversity. I love that the campus is not huge, and as a student, I am getting the necessary attention from professors and university staff. I

I am sure that I will gain immense professional skills by working with the faculty from my program. Upon completion of my degree and I will return to Tajikistan as a highly qualified ESL teacher.

When it comes to applying for scholarships, a student should know that it takes time, hard work, and passion. A strategic plan is required to be implemented to make sure your scholarship application is more efficient and effective. I am proud to be chosen among other scholarship applicants and eager to contribute to VIU’s academic and cultural life in the future. Thank you VIU!

Letter to the 2016-2017 SED graduates

Dear 2016-2017 Graduates,

On behalf of the faculty and staff of the School of Education at VIU, I congratulate you on your graduation!

This is an exciting time in your life, as you embark on a new part of your journey. Just remember that the journey may not always be easy, but your studies and the lifelong relationships that you have established while at VIU can serve as a roadmap.

I hope that you will focus on dreaming big and serving as a positive-change agent who makes the world a little better every day at a time. As Nelson Mandela once said “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” This exemplifies what it means to be a VIU graduate, as you work to make the world a better place by applying and building upon what you have learned from your time at VIU.

I also hope that you realize that, although you may be graduating, you are always a part of our VIU family. In fact, your graduation signals your induction into an international community of VIU alumni. Just remember that your success is our success; therefore, please keep in touch with us now and in the future.

Best of luck,

Kevin J. Martin

Associate Dean, School of Education

Virginia International University

Technology and Learning for Language Students

By Dr. Rebecca Sachs

According to Conole (2008), many students appear to be autonomously “creating their own social networks to support their learning” (p. 135), and several studies have shown that learners tend to have favorable attitudes toward the use of communication technologies in language classes.

In view of this, it has been argued that institutions failing to appreciate and build on students’ preferred modes of communication “run the risk of becoming irrelevant to the culture of discourse for young people and to the way in which people interact and exchange ideas” (Sendall, Ceccucci, & Peslak, 2008, p. 5). Student expectations may increasingly create a need for training and professional development among language educators, many of whom may not be digital natives themselves and, even if they are, may not be fully prepared to assist learners in avoiding communication breakdowns in computer-mediated intercultural encounters.

To make best use of the language learning opportunities available through CMC (computer-mediated communication), Lai and Li (2011) argue that teachers must take on multifaceted roles that involve making sense of a “complex system of digital literacy, communicative competency, and intercultural understanding” (p. 507). Beyond preparing their students with culturally appropriate strategies for negotiating meaning, language educators need to be adept at encouraging self-reflection and raising awareness of the affordances and socio-cultural norms surrounding various technologies. In doing so, it will be crucial not to neglect a focus on the linguistic. Considering the likelihood (supported by research) that learners may overlook communicatively redundant grammatical forms when focusing primarily on conveying meaning, teachers may need to set up expectations for metalinguistic analysis and self-correction and explicitly promote attention to inflectional markings and syntax, for example. Whether in CMC or FTF (face-to-face) environments, solid pedagogical task design plays a major role in calling attention to linguistic features that learners may need to notice in order to increase their language proficiency.

Finally, it is worth emphasizing that not everyone in the “Net Generation” actually conforms to stereotypes about digital natives and that technology itself does not improve language instruction. CMC may become normalized to the point of becoming invisible, but there will always be differences among learners, and many aspects of sound pedagogy will look exactly the same.

Much of the information in this article draws on overviews and evaluations of empirical research as summarized by Golonka, Bowles, Frank, Richardson, and Freynik (2012, Computer Assisted Language Learning); Lai and Li (2011, CALICO); Macaro, Handley, and Walter (2012, Language Teaching); Steel and Levy (2013, ReCALL); and Wang and Vásquez (2012, CALICO); as well as on a chapter I am co-authoring with Dr. Ken Petersen for a forthcoming edited collection entitled Technology and Second Language Learning: A Psycholinguistic Approach (Editors: Ronald Leow, Luis Cerezo, and Melissa Baralt; Publisher: De Gruyter). These sources can be consulted for broader and more detailed reviews of computer-assisted language learning.

An interview with Dr. Angie Parker

The following is interview with Dr. Angie Parker about her experiences teaching online and as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship Awardee.

Dr. Parker currently teaches online  for the School of Education at Virginia International University. She has experience planning and implementing professional development with educational technology integration and innovation and is a devoted instructor for innovative online courses.

Dr. Parker has also been an adjunct faculty member for Ottawa University and Jones International, working closely with their departments and other teachers on courses in Education. She is passionate about teaching online in its best quality, providing teacher voice and leadership, collaboration, innovative instruction, social learning, and redefining professional development.

Dr. Parker is a Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship Awardee, a scholarship initiative that cultivates and supports the capacity of all educators to use their unique voices and to elevate the craft of teaching and learning all over the world.

VF: Dr. Parker, please tell us a little bit about your experience, the position you have hold with VIU, and how they have helped to shape your vision of education.

AP: I have participated in instrumental design and administrating teaching the online courses for VIU.  I started a year and a half ago and enjoy working with Kevin, the Associate Dean of the School of Education.  He is such a great support and so easy to work with. (more…)