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Segue and Language Schools

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, updates
The Language Schools have long been innovative users of technology.  Indeed Segue was initially developed to support the creation of web sites in other languages, particularly less commonly taught languages that use non-Latin characters such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Russian.  We also designed Segue to support a wide range of language learning resources including images, audio and video and provide a simply way to download these media files to mobile devices such as iPods and iPhones using really simple syndication (RSS).  Finally, we did our best to make it easy to copy sites created in previous semesters for use in the current semester and to assign others, both individuals and groups, roles on any site.

Some of the ways in which the Language Schools have used Segue are documented in our usage analysis (see: Language Learning Resources and Audio Capture).  Language Schools have also made extensive use of Measure, our instance of Moodle, for placement, entrance and exit exams (see: Student Assessment).  As we research alternatives to Segue we will be certain to recommend tools to support these types of usage.

Many Language School faculty have filled out our technology needs survey which has also helped us understand how Language Schools use technology.  In the next couple of weeks the Curricular Technology team will be holding a number of open sessions for any faculty to stop by and describe their particular technology needs and tools that they have used and think would be useful for Middlebury to invest in.

We encourage anybody in the Middlebury community to tell us what they need in the following ways:

  • Email us at LISCurricularTechnologyTeam@middlebury.edu
  • Vote on existing technology ideas/suggestions or add your own
  • Complete any of our ancillary surveys
  • Comment on any post on this blog

James Morrison on Lecture Capture

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, updates

The Curricular Technology team organized a number of sessions with faculty innovators to find how they were using technology (see: Presentations by Faculty Innovators).  More recently, the team invited James Morrison, Assistant Professor of Political Science, to do a presentation on how he creates podcasts of his lectures.

Prof. Morrison uses a USB-powered label mic that he plugs into his laptop.  He is currently using GarageBand to record audio.  Typically, he’ll make a copy of a previous lecture podcast to preserve the metadata and intro and outro audio.   When he’s done recording a class lecture, he can then simply update the title, date and description and adjust the positioning of outro audio.  The audio file can then be exported and uploaded to his course site.

Here are links to some of his podcasts:

International Political Economy (Fall 09)
International Politics (Spring 2010)

Presentations by Faculty Innovators

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, updates

The Curricular Technology team in its review of course and curricular sites has identified a number of faculty who have been particularly innovative in their use of technology. The team has had informal conversations with many of these faculty but wanted to try to bring at least some of them together to show us how they are using technology and to tell us what they need. So the team organized a session last week and invited five faculty members to present their work and discuss their needs. Based on these presentations we have identified some of the functional requirements for innovators.

Chemistry course site in Facebook (Jeff Byers)

Carrie MacFarlane interviewed Prof. Byers last summer and documented his use of Facebook for large lecture courses on the Teaching with Technology blog. Prof. Byers is generally skeptical of “course management systems.” He certainly doesn’t think of himself as the “course manager” and he sees more value in students learning by collaboration rather then coming to him with all their questions. He chose Facebook because students were already familiar with it and were comfortable using it for sharing.

Inter-institutional Collaboration (Hector Vila)

Prof. Vila discussed his use of Segue for teaching Midd students how to teach writing to high school students. Because of the need to ensure the privacy of student-created content and also provide Midd students access to the work of high school students they were mentoring, clearly defined access control was critical. Segue did a reasonably good job of this, though defining the roles for students was a time consuming process. Also challenging was setting up and managing user accounts for students from two different high schools.

Student Video Assignments (Enrique Garcia)

Prof. Garcia requires his students to make videos as a way to practice their Spanish and hear themselves speaking. He allows his students to chose the topics for their videos and teaches them how to edit their work with iMovie. Generally he has found that his students enjoy making these videos and that the work seems to engage them and keeps them using the language more.

Prof. Garcia has distributed some of this work on YouTube but would prefer a service such as MiddMedia so that he could upload longer and higher quality student videos and be able to better control access. While Prof. Garcia has taught students how to edit videos himself, he would appreciate more support for this.

Internet Art (Hope Tucker)

Prof. Tucker teaches a course on internet art in which she introduces students to a wide range of technologies including twitter, social bookmarking and wikis. Like Prof. Vila , access control is important for this work because students are more expressive and experimental when they know access to their work is limited to the class.

Prof. Tucker has found that having MediaWiki sites restricted to her class to be particularly useful. These sites enable her students to collaborate on projects and MediaWiki’s history display allows her to track all the contributions to a given project by individual students so she is able assess their work. MediaWiki also provides a space for students to refine their work before later posting to Wikipedia.

For her Internet Art class, Prof. Tucker requires her students to “create a work that investigates emergent forms of media.” For this project, she teaches her students how to create basic web sites using Adobe Dreamweaver because it is particularly important for her course that her students be able to create their own design. That said, Prof. Tucker would consider letting students use content management systems such as WordPress, Segue or MediaWiki if students could edit the CSS of the template files for these platforms.

Web -based Audio Recording (Roberto Veguez)

Prof. Veguez noted a significant shortcoming in our current technology offerings. In the past, the Sunderland Language Center had a number of booths where students could listen to audio recordings on audio cassettes and record themselves saying what they heard and then be able to compare their pronunciation with what they heard. These language booths are no longer available and we do not have adequate replacement for them.

Students can record themselves using tools like Audacity. However setting Audacity up in a way that allows them to easily record themselves repeating language they hear from a website is a bit more challenging. Some sort of web-based audio recording tool that could be placed on the same page as the audio file they are listening to could make exercise much easier.

Other language faculty have expressed interest in web-based audio recording tools for assignments and assessment. Currently students do audio assignments using tools like Audacity to record and save audio files. However to then submit these recordings for assignments requires uploading the audio file to the course website or emailing to their instructor. Having a web-based recording tool means that students could access the assignment description on the course site and then record themselves from the same page and have that recording automatically saved to the site eliminating the need to upload it. Web-based recording tools would also be very useful for oral proficiency exams.

Education Studies: Student ePortfolios

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Members of the Curricular Technology met with faculty in the Education Studies program to discuss their technology needs, particularly those related to student portfolios. Many students in the Education Studies program create electronic portfolios that document their experience as teachers.

The Vermont Department of Education has licensure portfolio specifications for what kinds of “entries” should be included in these portfolios and how these entries should be organized.   Because these portfolios contain descriptions of actual teaching episodes and student case studies, access control is critical.  Critical too, is role-based authorizations that enable Education Studies faculty to collaborate with students in refining portfolios.  Since these portfolios are used by students who are seeking licensure, it is critical that students be able to continue to have access to these portfolios for a number of years after they graduate.

The Education Studies program has used Segue as the platform for creating these portfolios.  This spring, they piloted WordPress as an alternative platform.  Some faculty have also used Google Sites and found that this platform may also have the features necessary for these portfolios.

Usage Analysis: Audio Capture

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, updates

A number of programs of study make use of technologies for recording audio.  Some faculty have recorded their lectures, others  have recorded class discussions.  Language faculty have recorded samples of the language they are teaching for students to listen to and reproduce in their own recordings or have required students to record themselves reading words, phrases or passages from various texts.  Some faculty teaching writing courses have asked their students to record themselves reading their own writing.  Finally faculty in various departments have had their students produce podcasts.  For more details, see:

Curricular Technology Usage Analysis » Audio Capture

We invited others to send us more examples of the use of audio capture at Middlebury or comment on any of the case studies included in this usage analysis.  We also invite anyone in the Middlebury community interested in or knowledgeable about this topic to participate in our focus group sessions later this month.

Technology Usage Analysis

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, updates

To help us understand the functional requirement of platforms and applications that will be needed in the future including those that will replace Segue, we have started to do some curricular technology usage analyzes.

The first usage analysis we have done is an overview of Segue usage.  Over 5000 sites have been created in Segue since it was introduced in 2003 at Middlebury.  Over 12,000 individuals have created Segue user accounts.  About a third of the sites  created in Segue have been for courses, another 30-40% have been for personal sites and the remaining have been for “custom” sites which could include department and area sites or curricular resource sites.

For more details, see: Segue Usage Analysis