Joining the Revolution (Liveblogging from IALLT 2007)

Hi folks! I finally found a wireless connection here and will be liveblogging Claire Braden Siskin‘s presentation on Runtime Revolution. Joining the presentation in progress ….

RR is not contained within a browser but you can run a browser within it. You don’t –have– to depend on the intartubes [woo-hoo!] but you can integrate the two. Cross-platform, Linux development is a little behind though. [Boo.] Looks pretty easy to use, Claire doesn’t seem to think HotPotatoes is. [I’ve never used HotPotatoes.] You can annotate, it handles Unicode pretty well (some issues). It is affordable especially in comparison to buying a digital language lab.

The point of RR is collection and distribution of media files. (Claire actually started using it because it was fun, but then realized she could use it for audio and video capturing.) Literally, you click a button and it auto-records either audio or video. [Oh, but it drops it on the desktop. Can it auto-upload to somewhere? Claire sez that’s the next step she’s working on.] Can be managed via FTP, can be integrated with a database (MySQL!). Can be done completely on the web, maybe? Can use it to track student mouse clicks. [That’s kinda creepy, though.]

[note to self: check out PureVoice.]

Web-based audio recording activity: type username, click on language, click on instructor. Do a sound check, listen to it. Click record, listen and playback, allows them to save it directly to the lab server (which also saves it to the desktop) or to save it just to the desktop. It’s all web based and really easy to use. [I’m beginning to wonder just how ‘spensive this all is…] Oh look, Claire says the studio version (which is the one we want) is $279.30 for educational institutions. That’s the one the allows you to connect it with a database, integrate web elements, etc etc etc. Can make standalone copies for PCs or Macs.

But what about the support? There’s a “helpful community of developers, tutorials, vast documentation, and an active listserv.” Claire has website with more information about Revolution for Language Learning. And templates to give you ideas for what to do with this. And some example scripts. RSN (real soon now), an audio tutorial will be available, too. [Holy crap, does she sleep?]

Files are recorded in .wav or .aiff or .au (.mov for video), but you can set the compression so it’s not too big. [And I’m sure you could write a server script to convert any file dropped in a certain folder can be converted automatically to .mp3.] Plugins are available as well … basically it only records certain filetypes but will play any Quicktime-compatible filetype. (Not wmv or wma, though.) Ooooh, and it can be used to make presentations. (Powerpoint doesn’t handle media very well … but this was very smooth.)

Using the development version allows you to create an .exe for PCs, and a .app for Macs. So, you create the stand-alone activity in Revolution, upload it into Blackboard, and make it available to your students that way. There are a few differences between Macs and PCs in terms of fonts, but use Verdana and you’ll be alright. (Except with Arabic … RTL language entry is funky but it will display it properly.) Also, there’s an issue with file management on the Macs (where to download files) but it can be solved with a simple script.

Enterprise version: has more tech support, allows you to use Oracle databases, can be installed on more machines. It’s about $1000.

Next up for UPitt is using this for ASSESSMENT. (This is like Hypercard on steroids, or so I’m told. [I still have no idea what Hypercard is/was.]) It looks a lot like the iBT TOEFL software I just installed in our lab this past academic year … you can give an audio prompt and ask them to record audio or video in response, which all gets automatically sent to the server, which then allows you to continue. [Waiting for the catch … this looks super cool.]

COPI (computerized oral proficiency interview) and MOPI (m=modified)…tests of fluency. Use RR for a 4-3-2 (record for 4 minutes, record for 3 minutes, record for 2 minutes all on the same topic and see if the fluency improves).

Ryan has been proudly maintaining and contributing to Language Lab Unleashed since 2005, and is the current President of SWALLT. Since the summer of 2013 he's been causing trouble with his all-star colleagues in the UMW DTLT; when not wrangling websites Ryan can be found doing strange things with heavy objects.

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