Languages Advisory Group – Notes from Meeting on Novemeber 18, 2011

Minutes from the LIS Languages divisional group November 18, 2011.

Present: Tom Beyer, Bryan Carson, Orlaith Creedon, Florence Feiereisen, Enrique Garcia (co-convener), Rivi Handler-Spitz, Joy Pile (co-convener), Terry Simpkins

1. Information Literacy Pilots

Chemistry has devised a 4 year program that covers courses within the major from 1st year through the senior capstone project.

HARC is still formulating how the program will work given the various courses students take for the major, and the specialized knowledge base of departmental faculty.

Languages present some problems since it is difficult to do meaningful in-language research until the upper levels. This opens the quandary of where info lit should be included in the language curriculum. Should it be the same for all language departments? Tom Beyer mentioned that he has brought in a librarian for the first few classes of the senior seminar to teach research methods.

2. Liaison Program

The liaison program, or more particularly the model of reference service will be undergoing an assessment this spring. This assessment will work in tandem with the LIS space team in order to determine how to best use and redesign two areas – the information desk and the reference desk.

 3. Google/MSLive evaluation

Shel Sax is heading up an evaluation of moving email hosting from the college to the cloud. LIS will be evaluating two services – Google and MicroSoft Live. There are a number of questions/issues: cost, ease of migration, functionality, service level agreements with the vendors, etc. Should we change mail services, there will be a way of migrating any information stored in our current system and we will retain a address.

 4. Classrooms and labs

Currently there are 44 “non-smart” classrooms on campus, plus several other spaces used as classrooms during the Language Schools. What is the best method and what should be the schedule and priority for converting them? LIS will convening a group this fall to prioritize upgrade requests, resulting in a budget request for conversion. This group will also be looking at near-future technologies such as small portable projectors that might impact the upgrade decisions.

 5. Innovation: digital humanities, cyberinfrastructure

Three College-wide task forces on innovation have been created, each of which will have LIS representation. Additionally, LIS is forming a group to provide services to the community relating to digital resources and ideas relating to their use in a liberal-arts pedagogy. The LIS group, led by our Head of Collections and Digital Initiatives, is still in its formative stages, but they will be charged with thinking about the services needed and how best to deliver them. This may include an inventory of what is already happening on campus. LIS is investigating how digital resources from special collections, the lecture archive and other sources could or should be integrated. Midd Lab may fit in as sort of a “PR” arm to highlight interesting uses of digital technology in humanities research and pedagogy.

6. Moodle

Is up and running. The number of classes using either Moodle or WorPress is similar in number to the numbers of Segue sites in the past. Segue will become read only by the spring and migration tools, or the ability to archive material on the sites as static HTML or PDF will be available in the spring. Rivi mentioned the problems she has with transferring information from a Word document to Moodle. Bryan related that this problem was a problem for the intersection of almost all WYSIWYG editors with MS Word. It was suggested that faculty help Alex schedule a workshop or create tutorials, focused on the best practices for creating documents that include diacritics — or are written in non-Roman characters or alphabets — into Moodle or WordPress.

 7. Investigation and digital solution for the “Language labs”

Aline Germain-Rutherford and Alex Chapin are heading up this task-force. They have sent out a request for input on specifications from faculty. Although they have begun documentation, no timeline for completion has yet been set.

Tom Beyer cautioned against spending and investing large sums for infrastructure. Many of the functions of a “language lab” can be done with cheap technology such as an iPhone or other smart phones. These devises can now easily record a video and send or upload it. The Google translate app for smart phones enable students to quickly learn vocabulary and hear it spoken, just by talking into their smart phone.

This year Tom is experimenting with Skype and other simple technology to record and stream faculty meetings and lectures, allowing faculty to attend virtually.

Enrique and Florence mentioned that language departments need students to create portfolios of their written and oral work that can follow a student’s progress across 4 years, especially since a student may have a different teacher each semester. These portfolios would enable faculty to track the progress of students and also know which issues remain as problems – either in grammar or in pronunciation and enable to better tailor and monitor instruction.

8. Ebooks

Joy briefly mentioned that we have access to a collection of about 45,000 ebooks through EBL. Purchase will be on a patron driven model. Tom asked about using this service for recent translations of literature, which he uses as class texts. We ran out of time to fully explore all the issues surrounding ebooks – and will discuss it more in depth at the spring meeting of this group.

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