Instructional Technology

CLC staff strive to help our language instructors implement technology into their teaching effectively and efficiently.

The key goals of instructional technology at the University of Chicago Language Center are:

  1. Strategic use of technology that supports students’ development of target functions within a proficiency-oriented, reverse design approach. 
  2. Ensuring that all language instructors are proficient in the basic functions of the core suite of instructional technology tools available at the University of Chicago (e.g., the Canvas LMS, Google Workspace tools), while also expanding the ways we can teach language effectively.
  3. Helping instructors implement their unique curricular goals by finding tools and methods that work for them and their students. 
  4. Developing quality materials that are situated within proficiency-oriented assessment and curricula.

Proficiency-oriented reverse design

The CLC’s major professional development, assessment, and pedagogy programs–the Language Pedagogy Innovation Initiative and the Mellon Transfroming Language Instruction grants–both utilize a proficiency-oriented, reverse design approach. This means 1) setting target proficiency levels that students should reach at the end of a course or sequence, 2) creating assessments that measure whether students have reached those levels, and 3) working backward to create/update/improve curricula that enable students to reach these goals.

The ‘strategic use of instructional technology’ follows a similar philosophy: first having a clear picture of what we’re trying to do and then figuring out how technology can help us do it effectively and efficiently, rather than using technology for technology’s sake or jumping between the latest fads.

Mastering the basics; Expanding the possibilities

UChicago’s Academic Tech Solutions has valuable resources on the university’s primary instructional tech tools (listed below), along with instructional design support, office hours, and a robust workshop calendar.

The resources provided by ATS are a great place to start, but if you would like hands-on support in any using any of these tools in your language teaching contact Nick Swinehart at

For instructors who already have basic to advanced proficiency with our primary suite of tools, the CLC is excited to help support innovative uses of technology for language teaching. For example, the CLC recently purchased two VR headsets and will be helping some instructors explore how immersive environments can drive learner engagement. We’ll also be working with instructors on utilizing AI tools in language teaching. In these and other innovative areas, we can help instructors research current uses, identify potential goals, avoid potential pitfalls, and develop a plan to start with the small-scale integration of these tools.

Solutions for unique curricular goals

There will be times when the basic suite of tools won’t be enough to help some instructors accomplish specific curricular goals. Or maybe the basic suite WILL be enough, if used in creative ways.

If you need to find solutions for challenges you’re facing in implementing specific language learning tasks, contact Nick Swinehart at

Creating quality materials

CLC staff can help you plan, create, and/or modify audio and visual materials to be used as:

  • inputs for proficiency-oriented testing or teaching.
  • mini-lectures that students can watch outside of class and re-view as much as they like.
  • promotional materials to attract students to your courses.


To discuss any of these or other uses of instructional technology in language teaching, contact Nick Swinehart at