Lang. Lab Controls Audio, Video & More

By Greenfield, Elizabeth | T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), March 1991 | Go to article overview

Lang. Lab Controls Audio, Video & More


Greenfield, Elizabeth, T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)


"It's hard to maintain a student's focus, especially in language classes, for more than 30 minutes," comments Don Haupe, the coordinator of foreign languages at the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham, N.C. It is for this reason that he is so pleased with the school's foreign language lab, which combines video, audio and computer-based components to help focus and sustain student attention.

The language lab used at North Carolina is the IS-10 by Tandberg Educational, Inc. in Armonk, N.Y. Comprised of 27 positions-23 individual seats and one cluster of four-the unit also has a dual master consol for the instructor's use. With it, two teachers can control different sections of the class.

* Student Positions

The 23 standard units are primarily audio-based. Each contains a headset with headphones and a microphone, plus a student recorder that records student pronunciations. After giving oral responses to the master tape played by the instructor, students can play back their pronunciations and correct themselves. They can continue to make as many recordings as they or the teacher desires.

The cluster contains four positions, yet up to five students can be seated at each one. In addition to the audio capabilities of the other 23 positions, the cluster positions also have their own VCRs and two have IBM PS/2 Model 30 computers with color monitors.

A number of commercially available foreign language videos are used at the cluster, most containing very short scenes of daily activities. One tape shows a scene in a grocery store where characters speak for about five minutes. Control over the tapes can be given to the students, who can rewind and replay the tape as many times as they wish.

The two computer positions run the school's own FLUENT foreign language program, which contains exercises in grammar, reading and vocabulary; a review of material covered; and short passages that must be answered. In the Russian course, for example, computer exercises are designed to correspond directly to each chapter in the text; one exercise stresses vocabulary while three to four others provide grammar instruction. The rest of the class uses the audio positions while the computer exercises, which are often graded, are run by two students. Haupe then rotates the students in pairs.

* Complete Control

From the master consol, instructors can separate the class into up to four groups with four different activities. Specific individual positions can be assigned for these different activities. Haupe often has half of his class review grammar or vocabulary lessons while the other half listens to music in either French or Spanish. Then he switches them so each student experiences both.

[Students] can do nothing if we don't want them to," Haupe asserts. Tape ejecting, volume control, playback-all can be frozen by the instructor. Plus the master consol, can be locked up securely to prevent tampering. …

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