Archive for September, 2012

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‘Clilstore warmly received at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra’

September 23, 2012

One of Ulster’s first full Clilstore training workshops was recently delivered to members of Roinn na Gaeilge at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. St Patrick’s College is a college of Dublin City University and is “a vibrant and innovative centre of excellence in Education and the Humanities.  It is one of the largest such institutions in Ireland with approximately 2,500 students enrolled on a range of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programmes.” The new national 3rd level syllabus for Irish based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages  (available at www.teagascnagaeilge.ie) was conceived at a symposium organised at St Patrick’s College in 2008 and the subsequent project which led to the publication of the three year syllabus and supporting sample materials was also based there. The new syllabus, which was completed in January 2011, is currently being implemented at third level institutions throughout Ireland and one of Clilstore’s potential applications will be to allow teachers who are following the syllabus to create bespoke multimedia teaching and learning materials which help their students achieve the various learning outcomes detailed in the syllabus. During the workshop Roinn na Gaeilge (“Irish Department”) staff were introduced to the Tools project and were given a demonstration of Clilstore’s key functionality before registering and trialling the service themselves. Following the workshop the participants were asked to provide feedback on the workshop and Clilstore. The seven participants unanimously agreed that they were given a clear and informative introduction to the Tools project and Clilstore, that sufficient time had been set aside for them to register and get hands on experience, that any questions they had had been adequately addressed and that ultimately the workshop had provided them with the knowledge and competence to use the online system confidently. The participants’ replies to the two free response questions were most encouraging and gratifying. Responses to the question ‘What I liked best about the workshop/ the software’ included:

“..is the versatility it allows for; its adaptability; the ease with which excellent learning materials can be created with it”

“potential for developing language learning resources & sharing them. It is easy to use – user friendly & uncomplicated”

“The opportunity to try out various options available for creating resources under supervision. It was wonderful to be able to develop a teaching unit during the workshop and avail of  Caoimhín’s expertise each time the need arose”

“Bhí na treoracha an-soiléir. Is bogearra thar a bheith aisiúil é” (Trans. “The instructions were very clear. It’s a very useful piece of software”).

Responses to the question ‘What I think could be improved’ included:

“No suggestions for improvement! Following the workshop I’m eager to create some new material for current courses, míle buíochas”

“One-to-one periods of instruction would greatly enhance the possibility of individuals acquiring the requisite capability…”

“Workshop was excellent. Another workshop perhaps in 6 months time”

“The interface could be updated to indicate the full potential & uniqueness of the resource”

“Tá mé ag súil leis an dearadh nua ar an suíomh a fheiceáil” (Trans. “I’m looking forward to seeing the site’s new design”)

The above feedback reflects the breadth of Clilstore’s appeal and validates the Tools project’s intensive programme of dissemination and training. The suggestions for improvements also give us food for thought e.g. the user interface has been a matter of intense discussion among the Tools partners and plans are in place to address this issue within the coming year, however, new users will expect to see the promised improvements being delivered and the project teams will need to ensure that new users stay onboard as the improvements are carried out. While it is intended that new users who have benefitted from a Tools workshop will be able to use Clilstore confidently, and while new users are encouraged to contact us if they require any further assistance, follow-up meetings or repeat workshops for key user groups may be necessary or desirable in order to ensure that the service has been fully adopted and exploited.

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Island Voices on Clilstore – and on Facebook!

September 17, 2012

Scotland’s Gaelic College, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, plays an important role in the TOOLS project as it’s where the principal software programmer, Dr Caoimhìn Ò Donnaìle, is based. Caoimhìn teaches a number of modules for full-time students at the college, but alongside his teaching commitment he has a crucial responsibility for developing the Clilstore platform in response to feedback and demands from project partners and other users.

The college is not new to co-operation with European partners. Indeed, another of its success stories, the award-winning bilingual “Island Voices/Guthan nan Eilean” project was first started as part of the 2005-2007 POOLS project. Following POOLS it took on a life of its own, expanding its stock of online video clips for language learners more than three-fold to an impressive total of over 150.

Caoimhìn has now transferred all 150 clips (75 English and 75 Gaelic) onto Clilstore, which means that you can watch any video while accessing a transcript on the same page which will link any word you care to select to an online dictionary of your choice. A “unit info” button will give you additional summary information, such as a description of the contents, and notes about the language used, as well as a Short URL for posting as a link elsewhere, for example in your blog or on Twitter or Facebook.

The Island Voices project continues to grow, though the focus has moved away from staff-produced videos to wider community engagement in the production of user-generated content in both audio and video formats, as well as written texts. This involves a lot of grassroots dissemination work in the Hebrides through all available means – including Facebook! A newly created Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com/GuthanVoices, is proving useful in spreading the message, with a fast-growing number of “likes” from people (all over the world!) who want to follow the progress of the project.

As the project develops its crowd-sourcing approach to “language capture” we can look forward to more and more authentic community-based materials finding their way onto the growing Clilstore archive!

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TOOLS was presented to language teaching professionals from all over the world

September 15, 2012

In August 2012 Tools project team had a wonderful opportunity to present the fruit of their work to the international community of language teaching professionals. This happened in an annual conference of EUROCALL which this year took place in University of Gothenburg (Sweden). It has been initially decided in the Tools work plan that some of the team meetings will coincide with EUROCALL conferences.   This way we will not only reach a huge number of the end users, but will have a good chance to collect their feedback in order to develop and improve our tool- the Clilstore, and make the possibility to use it as easy as possible.

What else can be more pleasant to the heart of a language teaching professional than getting to know colleagues with the same passion for CALL? The tools team was delighted to see more than 30 delegates to have registered for the workshop, which was due on the first day, which according to the framework of the Eurocall conferences, is usually dedicated to workshops. No matter how modest we would try to look, we must admit that the workshop was a success! Language teaching/CALL  professionals from many European countries as well as from China, Chile, USA, Canada, Japan and others were attending the trainings for clilstore tool.

At the same time members of Tools team interviewed the conference delegates during the breaks between sessions and presented the clilstore for additional 100 or more language teachers.

Their opinion and feedback is very important to us. Many expressed their wish to continue testing and using the tool and we will contact them at the next phase of the project. It was amazing to observe the numbers of teaching units in Clilstore grow with every day of the conference!

On the last day of the event Kent, our coordinator, invited Philip Hubbard, well known language teaching professor from the University of Stanford (USA) to participate in Tools project meeting and to share his ideas about computer assisted language learning methods he uses with his students as well as to comment on Clilstore tool. It was a pleasure to receive positive comments about the tool from Prof. Hubbard and to hear his intention to use the tool in the future.

The Tools project team is glad to see the Clilstore family growing all over the world.