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.