Language Labs

Our Chinese teacher is a heavy technology user. She uses Word and Powerpoint to record audio and insert images for assignments for her students. These files are copied to our file server where she listens to them. She works with students using this type of activity a few periods a week, allowing them much more 1 to 1 practice time then they would have if she were working in a traditional teacher led class each day. She has now showed our French teachers how to do this and they are on board as well.

Here’s my thought. Instead of moving to a packages learning lab platform, I’m imagining using WordPress 2.0 for uploading the text, images, and audio that had been done in Word. WordPress MU allows you to upload files to the server as part of the post and
drag and drop images into the post text. This would be our language lab environment for students to post their responses to a Teacher post and/or their own classmates’ posts. They could also use their own blogs to just write content. If the files are
uploaded in podcast format, the teacher could actually download them, using an iPod or another media device to listen and students can see the work of other students, helping them practice. Because it is web enabled, people in China or other countries
could also comment on the work being done or conversations being had.

But there are problems with this as well. Students and faculty would have to use Audacity or some other program to record the files, as now they just open Word and record there. They would have to understand a little about podcasting, blogs, etc. But
as we were discussing yesterday, these are all important skill, no?

What do you think? Has anyone tred this? Anyone interested in exploring this? I’ll keep you up to date on how are tests go. We just got our wordpress server working, so this is very new to me, but it seems like there could be a viable platform.

+++++++++++++++++++ THIS IS A TEST ++++++++++++++++++++++
Testing MP3 Uploads from Audacity – Does this cout as a podcast? — It sure is easy to upload files and then drop them into the post — hopefully this can work:->

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2 thoughts on “Language Labs

  1. Alex, we have been trying to find good ways of podcasting as well. The best model I have seen is the Ourmedia. They allow you to upload as much non-copywritten audio, video, photos, text, and then automatically creat an RSS feed. This way, using iTunes or Juice or others, people can just subscribe to your feed.

    Your teacher could then subscribe to all of your students podcast feeds and the feeds would come to her. Then sync up your mp3 player/ipod and listen on the train on the way to work. So simple.

    Main problem, Ourmedia is a public place, no way to keep your audio files private. Schools need a way for students to easily audioblog/podcast. Then teachers and other students could just pick up their RSS feeds.

    We recently podcasted our upper school’s performance of The Tempest using Ourmedia. We weren’t too concerned about student privacy, because it was simply their voices performing the play. But for student homework and other uses, I would like a less-public way to handle things.

    There are ways to use Blogger and WordPress, but they require some hacking around.

  2. Hey Arvind — Thanks for the comment. It’s nice to know someone is reading:->

    Two thoughts:

    1. Podcasting is built into WordPress 1.5 or above. See: http://codex.wordpress.org/Podcasting — I need to worry about space (and get the audio uploads working) on our MU deployment, but if it works, I’m thinking about using this as a platform. I just downloaded Juice, subscribed to my learning-blog feed and it found the mp3 file that I uploaded above.

    I love the thought of our teacher downloading all of her student’s assignments onto her iPod and then recording comments back to them that she can then upload after she syncs again… Awesome. But every better would be to have the students helping to correct each other — then they are really learning. Someone said that you really begin to learn when you become the teacher:->

    2. In terms of the ability to protect students, I totally understand, but books like The World is Flat and The Cluetrain Manifesto as well as Bloggers like Will Richardson are really messing me up here. I used to think that we should protect everything, now I’m going 180% in the other direction.

    My thought is that if we have ground rules — use first names only — don’t divulge too much personal information — etc., having content on the Internet is a perfect place to create the type of global collaboration that we need to compete in the globalized world.

    Just thinking! Thanks again for the comment.

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