And so it begins…

The semester is off and running. We must be at the three week mark because I actually got to sit down and work on something for 4 hours and had only 2 interruptions. During the first 2 weeks of class, no one sat down. See Lab Director run! See the Educational Technology Specialist run! Run, run,run! I am glad that is over… but I know it will be back, oh, around midterms.

The teachers and their classes have been through the Center for their indoctrination sessions on the CMS-that-shall-not-be -named. All is well. Students are recording and plopping their sound files into the appropriate dropboxes. Erin figured out some way to make the macs accept the headphones from the get go, thus alleviating the “mute on/ mute off” dance that we had to do before. Headphones now secured to the machines as well. Lab assistants are jubilant. Recording of Chinese tones, as well as Russian, Japanese, Spanish and French continue onward. A veritable tower of Babble.

Skype sessions abound. Students signed up for the Mixxer and connections have begun. We now have students in the lab using Skype for non language purposes as well. Woe be to the young coed who thinks the mac in the back of the lab is like being in the “booth in the back in the corner and in the dark”…a place where you can say all that you want to your significant otter and no one will hear you. Woe, because that machine is right outside of my office. Woe be to me. Wanna hear how loud I can play iTunes in my office?

We have begun some language and technology brownbags (you bring your lunch in a brownbag, we provide the drinks) and tried to get teaching staff together to talk about tech and teaching. M and Th at 12:15 or 12:30 for 30 minutes (same topic, repeated). Attendance: sparse. Requested time: 4:30 p.m. By 4:30 we are either ready to crawl out the door or just beginning to sit down to catch up on emails and such… that may not work. And then there is the “preaching to the converted” problem. This week’s session on blogging was frequented by the people who already blog with their classes. Sigh.

We have finches and parakeets in the lab now. The finches, true to form, are laying eggs and have 5 babies waiting to hatch. The parakeets are dancing to Erin’s (adjective deleted) music (the soundtrack to Hairspray and anything JT-ish seeming to be faves to the winged wonders). The birds provide background chatter while the students record. Someone once said to me that ths is called the cocktail lounge theory… you create enough ambient noise so that the students don’t feel self-conscious when they are making their own sounds, but not enough so they can’t concentrate. Well, it seems to be working. We have students recording, conversation groups chatting, voice majors singing arias in Italian every now and again, Chinese students working on their tones, and …oh yeah, Erin’s music.

It’s all good. And I will try and do a better job of writing about our center and what we are doing here in the weeks to come. Why? well one of the reasons this site was created was because (we felt) there was a need to keep Language Center people connected…with one another, with technology, with professional development, with stuff. No one else at our schools talks about this stuff. So this site is (hopefully) filling a niche for some of you.

My husband calls the lang/tech conferences I attend my “support group.” He’s right. But our conference funding is dwindling. List servs can only do so much. So maybe, just maybe, this site and the tools it provides (blogging, webcasts, a wiki –check it out!– and the archived podcasts) will provide some additional resources –and more important still— the support and a sense of community as we all do our jobs at our schools (in relative isolation it seems) and while others around us wonder (without fail) what the heck it is we do anyway.

The semester has begun.

Barbara is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at a small liberal arts college in Maine. Rumor has it this was also her alma mater. She used to work for a small liberal arts college in the cornfields of Ohio for almost 20 years as a teacher and language center director. Prior to these adventures in higher ed she taught high school Spanish and loved it. She wishes she had more time in her life to play with her dogs, write, read, swim, do yoga things and making stuff out of clay. To see her online portfolio please click here!

Leave a comment

  1. Laura · September 26, 2007 Reply

    I could have written this same post–without the language element. πŸ™‚

  2. Barbara · September 26, 2007 Reply

    Thanks for the comment, Laura. Once it gets quiet around here I begin to think…uh oh, what am I –not– doing that I should have been doing. Do you have that worry too? And then once I get over that, it will be midterm madness. Oh, but the good news? By then we will have 7 finches, and not just 2 πŸ™‚

  3. Ryan · September 26, 2007 Reply

    Our birds do have fabulous taste in music, if I do say so myself. Just you wait until I beef up my showtunes collection. I’ll have those parakeets whistling while we work (la-la-la, la-la-la-la…) Also: I’m a little sad that we don’t have to do the mute-on, mute-off hokey pokey, if only because I can’t make my wax-on, wax-off joke anymore. Le sigh.

    πŸ™‚ But seriously, I’ve got quite a queue of posts to write and Felix and I have a list of Tech-o Tuesdays to record and publish now that things are settling down a bit. Oh, and the long overdue upcoming LLU redesign. We’ll have a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on soon enough…what was that you said about sitting down?

  4. Barbara · September 27, 2007 Reply

    Update: Woman from Bulgaria having a heated conversation in the lab via Skype. Throwing things, Yelling, Shaking of Fists. The patrons are amused if not horrified. The birds are verrrrrrry quiet. Thank you Skype for yet another immersive experience… I think.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: