As I reflect a bit, my experience with Teaching CI Online was fine. The obvious physical barrier you would expect to be an issue didn’t actually impede much of anything. CI Online is absolutely possible. One major drawback was lack of reliable internet. On bad days, we just didn’t have class. Occasionally, I had to mute all microphones or disable cameras because of taxed bandwidth at a particular school. That was not cool for checking comprehension, teaching to the eyes, and making connections. If a school was prepared, there were no problems.
Elementary and Exploratory middle school classes were fantastic. There were extremely positive comments coming from students, teachers, and parents about the Latin experience online, and the pacing was appropriate. Students were spontaneously using limited language before and after class, and weren’t at all concerned with grades. Teaching Latin with Compelling CI Online to these types of students works.
What doesn’t work?
What doesn’t work is Teaching CI Online to high school classes that meet live only 2x a week, but are expected to “cover” a year’s worth of Latin. The number of contact hours online is about half as much from brick and mortar instruction, so I’m not sure where that expectation came from anyway. That pace of 2x a week is so slow that students don’t acquire enough to be reading much on their own during non-live class days. Since they’re expected to stay busy on those non-live class days, the courses are filled with random online quizzes, and drills. These assignments are of low communicative value, highly cheatable, and amount to completion-based “busy work” required for a transcript and course credit. This is anything BUT CI.
The time I had live with students DID contribute to their fluency, but only slightly. Just as the students were completing assignments in order to check them off a required list, they were also taking the course in order to fulfill a “2 year language requirement” at their school. This isn’t much different from university intensive summer language courses (e.g. you can fulfill the language requirement after two months). The problem is that there is no expectation of what to DO with the language; it’s just a completion requirement.
So, a high school program that meets daily, or near-daily, and is void of that busy work would highly benefit from CI Online.
What’s to stop schools from doing that?
The business model of online teaching is to save money, not create fluent speakers. If the goal were the latter, asynchronous online courses would not be acceptable for language learning. The entire virtual high school model is based on work completion and knowledge assessments. That might be fine for some content areas, but language proficiency just doesn’t fall into that category.
I’m not needed to explicitly teach anything; we’ve had access to knowledge for a while. What I am needed for is providing compelling understandable messages (Comprehensible Input) with sheltered vocabulary. That’s my jam.