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Editors' Note

SECTIONS

Technology is advancing at ever-increasing speed. Advanced technological devices are smaller, more portable, and more easily integrated into our everyday activities. For many of our students, what may seem to us the ephemeralization of both the material world and the realm of meaning is the straightforward fact of information at their fingertips.

• Editors' Note • Why Technology in a Classroom? • Te@chnology Tips • Links & Resources • The Editors' Picks • In Practice

Our students are experienced at building a world of meaning, indeed, building the world they inhabit, both in virtual and in physical space, by use of those ephemeralizing technologies. It is, therefore, worth our asking whether the tendency we often perceive, of attention directed elsewhere, or interrupted and intermittent, may be part of a mindset attuned by experience to dealing with, comprehending, even recreating content in a way that separates the deeper, inner world, from the superficial realm of data and information.

TE@CHNOLOGY TIPS

Information does not exist, in this way of thinking, for itself, but as a resource that feeds into experiential contacts with content. This may be the intellectual mandate of our times, a standard to which students cannot help but adhere. We know from our own experience, and from more advanced studies of cognitive functioning and learning styles, that the human brain acquires information not by absorbing it, but by creating new mental terrain with it. The brain literally creates new neurological and semantic circuitry to deal with and to manifest new information, and in practice, performative knowledge such as language usage is more ingrained when learners have the opportunity to create with that performative knowledge. As the Technology Committee for the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, we feel it is necessary to open and to guide an ongoing

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The use of audio-visual technologies in the classroom can be of benefit to the students, where the content allows for the students' mind to create with the language. prezi.com is a presentation program, available online, which allows students (and faculty) to assemble text, graphic and video media across a zoomable digital scrap-board, which can be mapped to operate like a slideshow or used like a bulletin board as orderly or as messy as users see fit. tumblr.com is a 'micro-blog' site, that allows for posting links, summaries, assignments, even syllabi and embedded video, to make resources related to a given subject easy to locate and access.

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discussion about ways to harness technology for language instruction that will: • enhance the classroom experience, • cultivate the experience of creative usage and immersion, • and help to build the most effective, human relationships, between instructors and students, given the goal of encouraging not just study, but real learning and ultimate fluency. LangLitTech is our offering of news and information relating to technology that might enrich the classroom experience for faculty and students working with foreign languages. In this first edition, we give you some introductory resources, and invite you to share with us your insights into effective ways to enrich the learning experience with technology, without distracting from mastery of grammar or core proficiencies.

Why Technology in a Language Class? Today our students are digital natives. We professors are digital immigrants. Through this periodical newsletter we want to explore practical ways to use technology to enrich the study of languages, and literature, poetry, and to enhance the knowledge of grammar, writing, speaking and writing. We want to share innovative ideas, effective techniques, and thoughtful plans for incorporating Web-based resources, desktop software packages, and new and emerging technologies into classroom instruction of the languages we teach at the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. We will examine numerous examples of the best language-related web sites, work with innovative tools to help improve student’s skills, as well as developing skills with Web 2.0 technologies such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, and online social networks.

Apple's iPad provides a wide array of unique new creative and organizational tools, which can change the way students interact with information. It also allows faculty more streamlined, timesaving ways to track attendance, grade student performance and create and manage course content. Blackboard: the new Blackboard service will make centralizing course material and sending and receiving assignments simpler, more manageable, and more effective for communicating clearly with students in real time. iPad will make use of the service still simpler, for those inclined to use one. Audacity is a free, downloadable voice recording program that allows for the creation of mobile .wav files (or with the right plug-in: .mp3 files) digital sound files easy to upload and transfer. This allows students to test, study, practice and improve their own pronunciation. It can also be used to help students produce voiceover narration for the creation of digital stories and group sketches.

We want to make this project highly participatory, and invite everyone to contribute their experiences, their insights, their tastes and preferences

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regarding classroom technologies. Together, we would hope to build a useful forum for sharing and exploring strategies to build creative, collaborative, and community-minded classrooms of the 21st century. Our aim is to support and enrich the classroom experience of learners in the language program through small highly-engaging activities.

In Practice... A look at digital translators. Not all that glitters is gold. Not because we live in a world driven by technology, we should blindly accept what is out there. Indeed, there is a great deal of controversial issues surrounding some technological applications. While technology has had a major impact on the teaching and learning of languages, a lot of controversy surrounds online, interactive exercises that seek to teach or practice language skills, lexical areas, and grammar. Even though electronic translators have their effectiveness when wisely used to cross-check between dictionaries (monolingual and bilingual reference material), they are seldom used with this purpose in mind by the language learner. More often than not, our students use these tools for production. And, when doing so, they seem to frequently be encouraged by these cute machines to frequently select the wrong lexical item! That’s why when grading a student’s composition/essay we teachers can easily tell when this form of cheating has been performed.

DropBox.com is a platform for file sharing, that allows an individual or group to share and store files across multiple computers. It can serve as a way to synchronize files and folders, without the worry of copying, pasting, and syncing, or the risk of accidentally erasing files. It can also allow faculty and students to create shared document pools where collaborative projects can be developed, evaluated and shared. issuu.com is a free service that allows individuals and organizations to host entire libraries of digital content, to build networks of interested readers and collaborators, and even to make some content available for magazine-quality print-on-demand.

What can be done about it? Always warn the students that we are experienced practitioners, and very good at detecting this “digital trick”. Remind the learners that machines are limited - thanks God for that, and cannot make intelligent decisions regarding language use. Moreover, it would be very positive for our learners’ self-esteem to be reminded that they are smarter than the silly machine!

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You may also want to carry out a little exercise at the beginning of the semester. Try writing in your own language a piece of writing. Use lots of idioms, and words with different denotation and connotation. Without mentioning what you did, show your masterpiece to your students, and wait for their reaction. This will be your teaching moment. It does the trick!

Committee News On Saturday, April 2, 2011, Adriana Merino and Joseph Robertson presented an outline of creative language learning projects that allow students to engage the language through exercise of all skills, using simple technological tools, at the 2011 NEALLT Conference at UPenn. The presentation focused on the instructive value of creating in multimedia environments in the target language, and on the ways in which such creative projects both advance student comprehension and proficiency and awaken the inventive passion and sense of fun that comes with actually using a foreign language. Celeste Mann, also with the Dept. of Romance Languages and Literatures, presented a poster on the use of a virtual environment to teach foreign language.

LangLitTech is the product of the work of the full Technology Committee of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures. Members of the Technology Committee • Adriano Duque • Adriana Merino (co-editor) • Silvia NagyZekmi • Joan Pérez Rodríguez • Joseph Robertson (co-editor)

THE EDITORS’ PICKS Best Ideas for Teaching with Technology, A Practical Guide for Teachers, by Teachers by Tom Daccord & Justin Reich. M.E. Sharpe Inc. (2008) - Paperback  291 pages - ISBN 0765621320

SURVEY We want to learn what our colleagues are doing with technology? What tech-related issues have you encountered in your classroom? How much technology do you use in your classroom? What do you find the most/least useful? Your answers will help us research and report further in future editions. Contact us anytime to share your experiences, questions or vision: ideas@langlittech.info

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LangLitTech, No. 1 - April 2011  

LangLitTech is a semiannual newsletter published by the Technology Committee of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, of Vill...

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