Donna Van Handle

Senior Lecturer in German Studies
Dean of International Students

Cross-cultural education and learning, contemporary German Landeskunde and literature (especially literature of the former German Democratic Republic); second language acquisition; use of technology in language teaching and research

Van Handle has also used the College's videoconferencing facilities. In her course Creation and Production of a German Play, she held several videoconferences with classes in Germany during which German students critiqued and offered feedback in German on an original play that her Mount Holyoke students had written.

"There is no doubt that the Internet is an extremely valuable educational tool, especially for language instructors," says Donna Van Handle, who has been developing Web sites to accompany her courses since 1995. “Course Web sites not only provide students with access to the syllabus, but also to Web exercises, activities, and other resources that allow students to encounter German language and culture in context, something that is normally only possible when they have the opportunity to spend an extended period of time in a country where the language is spoken.”

To acknowledge her commitment to using technology in her teaching, she received the Houghton Mifflin Award for Excellence in Foreign Language Instruction Using Technology in 2005.As part of her research in using Internet resources as instructional tools, Van Handle has coauthored and taught "Learning About and Using the Internet in German Instruction," an online graduate-level course offered through the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. The target audience for this course is practicing teachers of German throughout the world.

The German government has recognized Van Handle for her work. In 2007 she was awarded the prestigious Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Order of Merit) by Horst Köhler, president of the Federal Republic of Germany and was named Outstanding German Educator by the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG). Van Handle served as vice president and president of the AATG from 2000-2003 and was named Massachusetts German Educator of the Year by the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association in 2001. In 2000 and 2010 she also received Fulbright Grants to participate in the Fulbright German Studies Seminar in Germany.

Since 2003 Van Handle has also served as Mount Holyoke's Dean of International Students. "It is truly a joy to work with international students, who comprise well over 20% of MHC's student body," she says. "Interacting on a daily basis with students from so many different countries and cultures is empowering, and has taught me to appreciate Mount Holyoke's diverse community even more than I had in the past."

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