Project Report By: Patrice Brodeur, Religious Studies, Connecticut College
The completion of the first phase of my long-term project entitled "Islamic Languages Website" was completed in mid-November, 1999. This first phase concentrated on Arabic language material. The students in my Rel 207 (Introduction to the Islamic Tradition) were introduced to the WebCT site in early October and had an opportunity to use many of its resources in preparing their research papers as well as in interacting with each other through synchronic (chat room) and asynchronic (bulletin board) methods incorporated in the WebCT site. This integrated approach simplified the students' access to information about the course; they could find most of what they needed in one electronic place. Many of the website choosen for this course included Arabic language components, with the Arabic original and English translation(s) available simultaneously. The students thereby associated learning about Islam to learning about Arabic, indirectly. The artistic role of Arabic calligraphy in Islamic worship and cultural practices throughout the Muslim world was also available to students easily.
In the course web site, students have five choices: syllabus, calendar, link, chat, and bulletins. The calendar was not used because of the late completion of this first phase. When I teach the course again in September 2000, the students will be using this WebCT site from the first day of classes. The chat section was used minimally and the bulletin one extensively. But the most useful for the written assignments was the link section, which includes a site where students can hear the "Holy Quran" recited in Arabic, while having access to the text in English and Arabic.
Certain Arabic/Islamic websites have become incredibly versatile for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, whatever the level of Arabic knowledge. Such excercises give students direct exposure to the tradition as developed and used by Muslims today. They begin to understand the centrality of the Arabic language to any understanding of the Islamic Tradition.
For more specific information and access to the web site, contact Prof. Patrice Brodeur (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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