Testing resources, Panopto video pilot, and shared course experience at 1st Tech Talks

On Monday this week, the CLS hosted its first 10-minute Tech Talks of the year, welcoming three speakers for short presentations and discussion about technologies in use for second language teaching and learning.

The talks began with CLS Language Testing and Assessment Specialist Mary Jo Lubrano giving an overview of the Language Testing Resources Website. Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.06.41 PMThe site, maintained by University of Leicester Professor of Education and Language Assessment Glenn Fulcher, has perhaps too many useful resources to list. Among those that Mary Jo pointed out were the short overview videos by renowned experts on fundamental testing concepts, a huge and up-to-date list of articles on testing, and the statistics help pages in the form of Excel spreadsheets for classical test analysis.

Mary Jo adds,

Right from the home page, you can find information about upcoming calls for papers, conferences, testing in the headlines, etc. Under the menu on the right, the ‘Feature’ links includes information on several topics such as classroom-based assessments and preparation, SLA research and language testing and more. The website is a wealth of resources for anyone interested in language teaching and testing.

The next speaker was John Harford, Manager of Communication and Collaboration Technologies at Yale’s Center for Teaching and Learning. John gave the group an overview and introduction to Panopto, a rich platform for storing, sharing, recording and webcasting videos, thus combining and extending features that Yale currently realizes through the tools Echo360 and Kaltura (known on Classes*v2 as “Media Gallery“). Click on the image to the right for an overview video.Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 6.02.22 PM

John mentioned that he’s currently embarking on a pilot study of this platform for possible Yale-wide introduction, and that interested language instructors are encouraged to participate (contact via link above).

The final talk for the day featured Krystyna Illakowicz, Senior Lector I of the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department. After her experience last semester teaching an Advanced Polish class with room-to-room videoconferencing to students in two universities at once (part of the Yale-Columbia-Cornell Shared Course Initiative), she shared her insights about both the challenges and unexpected benefits of teaching with technology at a distance: one might expect that the physical separation of learners would make it more difficult for them to relate to each other but, she said, “The division paradoxically makes the work more collective. The community of learners is more together than in the situation when they are all in the same classroom.” Whereas in a traditional, non-shared classroom students’ individual work might remain private (with feedback on writing assignments given by the instructor and the instructor alone, for example), in her shared classroom she asked her students to post their writing to a digital whiteboard that was visible to both sides, for collaborative reading, annotation and feedback. Whereas students might have hesitated to share their work in this way initially, she mentioned, they soon developed an affinity for coordinated work through the screen, and even rehearsed and performed a skit together, acting in two classrooms at once.

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