By many measures of variety, the first session of our 10-minute Tech Talks for Fall ’14 was a great success: it brought together lectors and graduate students, faculty from Yale and beyond, and presenters from 6 time zones apart for three presentations about resources and strategies for using technology in language teaching.
An early highlight and our first presentation of the day was by former CLS staff and current University of Hawaii CLT Language Technology Specialist Russ Suvorov. To the disappointment of many, Russ wasn’t able to fly back to New Haven for his tech talk, but he did connect to us via Skype in order to introduce the many resources available on UH’s revamped National Foreign Language Resource Center website. Highlights included the annual summer institutes (for which funding may be available, he said), and the site’s robust collection of publications, projects, events, and resources that can be filtered by language–try Filipino, German, Ilokano, or Samoan, for example. Resources on teaching with technology are also particularly rich, as you can glean from the kinds of support offered to faculty developing online courses (see especially the Quality Guidelines). Oh, and if you’d like to keep up-to-date on the latest news from Hawaii, you can join 2,100+ other people who like the NFLRC on Facebook, or follow Russ & co. on Twitter.
Following this, I gave a quick overview of the technology resources available to Yale language instructors via the CLS website. First and foremost, the people of the CLS are glad to meet and discuss technology projects, needs, and ideas, so please don’t hesitate on that count–for technology-specific issues, that’s Adam Hummel and me. One relatively new online resource on the CLS site is the Online Teaching Tools and Resources page, with links to photo editing, multimedia, presentation, and other tools (have you tried MSU CLEAR’s Rich Internet Applications yet?); there you can also see, join and contribute to the regularly-updated CLS Diigo group with technology resources (case in point: YouTubeSlow, a tool for slowing down YouTube videos mentioned near the end of the session, near the top of the list).
In our third tech talk, Sarab Al-Ani gave a detailed look at Amara, a tool for captioning, subtitling, and translating video. She showed how she uses it for both beginning and advanced learners–creating exercises for learning the alphabet, and ‘translating’ across dialects of Arabic, respectively, were a few ways–and she walked us through some of the steps in actually using the tool. A feature that resonated positively with the audience was the ability to control what text appears, and for how long, in any video you’re editing; a drawback (or feature?) is the 64-character limit on how much text can appear on the screen at a time, a limitation with ramifications also for those who would want to have subtitles appear simultaneously in two languages (an issue raised in Q&A).
We had a lively discussion afterward, and we’re looking forward to presentations in upcoming Tech Talks on Weds., Oct. 15, and Tues., Nov. 4 by Kathleen Burton (French), Sybil Alexandrov (Spanish), Elka Kristonagy (English), Aoi Saito (Japanese), and…perhaps you? First time and multi-time presenters are welcome to sign up by using this Google form or emailing me; please also leave any comments right here on this post.
And, next time, we’re sure to see the return of…