USIA English Language Programs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs


Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Malaysia:
June 7-18, 1999

By Heidi Shetzer, University of California
-Santa Barbara

About the Specialist

Heidi Shetzer is an instructor and teacher trainer at International Programs, University of California, Santa Barbara. She designs and teaches a variety of courses that combine English language learning and computer/Internet training. Ms. Shetzer did her academic training at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she earned a Master's degree in Teaching English as a Second Language. At the University of Iowa she earned her BA degrees in Linguistics and Spanish with honors. Her recent projects include co-authoring the book Internet for English Teaching to be published in 2000, and authoring several book chapters and articles about using the Internet in education.

Visit Heidi Shetzer's web page


Areas of Specialization

Computer-assisted language learning, web page creation and management, teaching with technology, computer applications training, curriculum and course development, curricular change and innovation theory


Trip Report

I conducted four workshops titled, "Creating Online Materials to Teach Literature" during this trip to Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Banting, Kuching (Sarawak) and Kota Kinabalu (Sabah).

All workshops had the following four objectives:

  1. To learn about traditional and new approaches to teaching literature with the Internet
  2. To create original activities and lesson plans for teaching literature
  3. To create basic instructional Web pages using Netscape composer for online and offline use
  4. To understand where to store Web pages on the Internet

In Kuala Lumpur and Banting I worked with the Secondary Education Division of the MARA group using USIS's Patchworks literary anthology. In Kuching and Kota Kinabalu I worked with teacher trainers at Maktab Perguruan Batu Lintang and Maktab Perguran Gaya (teacher training colleges) using USIS's Being People literary anthology.

Participants in all settings worked in small groups to create collaborative web sites to teach a story from the literary anthology of their own selection. They created web sites that integrated text and graphics and some put their pages on the Internet. Many of the Web sites were detailed lesson plans to share with other teachers. Each participant received a diskette with a list of useful literature links and an assortment of papers related to teaching with technology.

The teachers and teacher trainers I worked with had varying degrees of knowledge about the Internet and its potential value for their own professional development and for the professional development of their students. Some were highly experienced while others signed up for their first email account during our workshop. I tried to stress that teachers need to learn first how to make use of the Internet for communication, research and publication for their own professional development, and then they will be able to think of more creative ways to integrate technology into their teaching.

There is a tremendous push to integrate the Internet and the use of technology into educational processes in Malaysia, as in other countries, but decision makers and administrators need to keep in mind that teachers need to have adequate access to technology themselves in order to devise creative ways to integrate technology into their practice. Facilities need to be provided not only for students in the form of networked computer classrooms, but also for instructors for the preparation of their classroom materials and plans.

Internet access in Malaysia (especially in Borneo) was not entirely stable. In two settings there were constant hiccups in the phone connection, which required that you continually reconnect to the Internet. This provides challenges for doing research on the Internet and in using online classroom packages like Nicenet (, which was of interest to many participants. We discussed the various things that can be done without a live Internet connection such as creating Web sites and composing email messages offline. We also talked about using offline browsers such as Teleport Pro or Web Whacker (both can be found at for the display of Web sites without a live Internet connection. Moreover, we discussed ways that students could be exposed to the Internet and its role in the global economy even in classrooms and schools that don't have any computers. Teachers can develop awareness-building activities by printing out key web sites to share in such settings (assuming they have access at home or through an Internet café, which existed in each city I visited).

Not only did I stress that the Internet is a tool for teachers to create activities to deliver to students, but I also emphasized that teachers can use the Internet to create activities and lesson plans that encourage the students to create multimedia Web sites, conduct research, and participate in global cross-cultural exchange projects. These exchange projects might involve writing, research, collaboration, and the exchange of US and Malaysian literature.



Recommended Links

An Electronic Literacy Approach to Network Based Language Teaching
By Heidi Shetzer & Mark Warschauer

Heidi Shetzer's New Tierra Web Site

Heidi Shetzer's UCSB Web Site

American Literature Links

Project ELLSA
Online American Literature Activities & Materials

Literature and Culture of the American 1950s.
Reading list of 50s literature

Voice of the Shuttle Literature, University of California, Santa Barbara
Alan Liu’s collection of literature links through the ages

O'Conner's American Literature Online
Chronological list of American lit links

Literature Online Home Page
Searchable library of English & American Literature

A Student's History of American Literature
chronological list of American lit links

American Studies Web
Comprehensive site about American literature, culture & history

Writing Black
Literature and History by and on African Americans

USIA Outline of American Literature
Online book

Black American Literature Forum
Searchable literary journal

WWW Resources for English and American Literature
Comprehensive guide by Indiana University Library

American Literature Association
Professional association Web site

American Literature on the Web
Online texts and indices by Akihito Ishikawa

Electronic Poetry Center Home Page
SUNY Buffalo’s resource collection

African American Women's Literature
Articles and Web site listings about African American Women’s Literature

Documenting the American South
Bibliography by Professor Robert Bain

Early American Literature 1600-1900
K-12 Resources

Native American Authors
Search for North American authors by Author, Title, or Tribe

African American Literature
Links to online readings

Asian American Literature
History, Classroom Use, Bibliography & WWW Resources

Native American Web Sites
Eclectic collection of online resources

Children and Young Adult Books by Native Authors & Illustrators
Short stories, novels, biographies and more

Yahoo's Literature Section
A compendium of links and resources




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