2019 LACOL Language Instruction Jam

Carly wearing a red shirt and gold necklace, gesturing while giving a talk. Carly Born (with Chico Zimmerman and Clara Hardy) recently participated in LACOL’s 2019 Language Jam hosted at Bryn Mawr College. 26 faculty and technologists from across the consortium attended.

The weekend centered on the CHIANTI project: a repository-like site for assignments and materials for instructors to share and use in their own classes, and a resource for students to complete tutorials on specific content areas in which they need extra help. Additionally, Carly shared an update on the development of the Language Dashboard Report, which is a Moodle report plugin intended to give faculty granular information on student performance on language placement tests, and Language Lesson. For more information on the projects demonstrated or on the Language Jam overall, please feel free to contact Carly (cborn@carleton.edu)! 


Themes from AZCALL & Carly’s Current Research

Arizona State Flag

Recently, I attended a small conference called AZCALL 2018 hosted by the CALL Club of Arizona State University. This one-day conference was planned by the graduate students in the CALL Club at ASU for the first time, anticipating about 60 people to attend.  To their surprise, actual registrations doubled that number!  The best part of attending small conferences like this one is that they are usually highly impactful without being overwhelming. So I’m still jazzed about some of the topics discussed!

The conference opened with a Keynote by Jonathon Reinhardt, Associate Professor of English at the University of Arizona, about the potential of using multiplayer games for second language learners. If you go to his page, you’ll see his recent research focuses on the use of games and gameful educational techniques, which have been very hot topics in both second language pedagogy and instructional design circles.

Aside from the now common theme of games for education, game-based learning and gamification, virtual and augmented reality were represented in presentations by Margherita Berti, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Arizona and the ending keynote by the always energetic Steven Thorne, among others.  Berti won the conference award for best presentation when she spoke about how she uses 360º YouTube videos and Google Cardboard to increase cultural awareness in her students of Italian.  Check out her website for more of her examples, Italian Open Education.

My personal favorite presentation was given by Heather Offerman from Purdue University, who spoke about her work on using visualization of sound to give pronunciation feedback to Spanish language learners (using a linguistics tool called Praat).  Her work is very close to some of the research I’m doing into the visualization of Chinese tones with Language Lesson, so I was excited to hear about the techniques she was using and how successful she feels they were as pedagogical interventions.  It’s interesting that in the last few CALL conferences I’ve attended, there have started to be more presentations on the need for more explicit and structured teaching of L2 pronunciation in particular, which could appear to be in contrast with the trends for teaching Comprehensible Input (check out this 2014 issue of The Language Educator by ACTFL for more info on CI).  But I argue that it’s possible – and possibly a good idea – to integrate explicit pronunciation instruction along with the CI methodology to get the best of both worlds.  Everything in moderation, as my mom would say.

Just like with all things, there is no silver bullet technology for automatically evaluating student L2 speech and providing them with the perfect feedback to help them improve. Some have been focusing on the use of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technologies and have been using them in their L2 classrooms.  However, the use of ASR is founded on the premise that if the machine can understand you then your pronunciation is good enough.  I’m not sure that’s the bar that I want to set in my own language classroom, I’d rather give the students much more targeted feedback on the segmentals of their speech that not only help them notice where their speech might differ from the model, but also to notice important aspects of the target language to gain better socio-cultural understanding of verbal cues.

That is why I have been working on developing pitch visualization component of Language Lesson. The goal is to help students who struggle with producing Chinese tones properly notice the variance between their speech and the model they are repeating by showing them both the model and their own pitch contours. Soon, I hope to have a display that will overlap the two pitch contours so that students can see very clearly the differences between them. Below are some screenshots of the pitch contours that I hope to integrate in the next 6 months.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m looking forward to spending part of this winter break working on a research project to assess the value of pitch contour visualization for Chinese L2 learners.  I will be collecting the recordings I’ve been capturing for the past two years and producing a dataset for each group of students (some of whom had the pitch visualization and some who did not). I will be looking to see if there are differing trends in the students’ production of Chinese tones amongst the different treatment groups. Below are just a few of the articles that I’ve read recently that have informed my research direction.  It should be exciting work!

Elicited Imitation Exercises

Vinther, T. (2002). Elicited imitation:a brief overview. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 12(1), 54–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/1473-4192.00024

Yan, X., Maeda, Y., Lv, J., & Ginther, A. (2016). Elicited imitation as a measure of second language proficiency: A narrative review and meta-analysis. Language Testing, 33(4), 497–528. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532215594643

Erlam, R. (2006). Elicited Imitation as a Measure of L2 Implicit Knowledge: An Empirical Validation Study. Applied Linguistics, 27(3), 464–491. https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/aml001

Chinese Tone Acquisition

Rohr, J. (2014) Training Naïve Learners to Identify Chinese Tone: An Inductive Approach in Jiang, N., & Jiang, N. (Ed.). Advances in Chinese as a Second Language: Acquisition and Processing. (pgs 157 – 178). Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/carleton-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1656455a”]

**cross-posted from Carly’s blog, The Space Between.

#ISSOTL18 conference: Toward a learning culture

red sign with moose head shape and text "moose shop"

Sarah Calhoun, Janet Russell, and Celeste Sharpe presented a poster (co-authored with Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Iris Jastram, and Kristin Partlo) titled “Perspectives on connecting SoTL across the (co-) curriculum at a small liberal arts college” at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Conference in Bergen, Norway. The poster presented three examples of overlapping initiatives at Carleton, and the ways in which these projects are surfacing gaps and providing critical foundation for a more concerted, campus-wide effort. These findings will also be presented at an LTC presentation winter term. The poster and bibliography are available at http://bit.ly/issotl2018-connecting. An image of the poster is below.

conference poster on eportfolios, information literacy in student writing, and student internships as examples of scholarship of teaching and learning in the co-curriculum
authors: Sarah Calhoun, Melissa Eblen-Zayas, Iris Jastram, Kristin Partlo, Janet Russell, and Celeste Sharpe.

Recap: Day of DH 2018

3 scholars seated on high chairs with microphones smiling and laughing during discussion.

Image caption: (l-r) Thabiti Willis, Jack Gieseking, Adriana Estill in conversation. Photo by Briannon Carlsen.


Carly Born Presents at CALICO 2018!

Carly presents at the Computer-Assisted Language Instruction Consortium (CALICO) 2018’s Technology Showcase on Language Lesson for Speaking Exercises on Thursday, May 31!


Language Lesson is a stand-alone tool designed to facilitate student recording exericses, such as elicited imitation tasks, scaffolded dialog practice or fluency exercises. This tool allows instructors to leave text or oral feedback for students at specific points in student recordings, providing contextualized corrective feedback on students’ speaking. In our current research we are investigating Natural Language Processing technology to faciliate evaluation of student recordings for placement or proficiency assessments. Language Lesson will be released as an open-source project in the Summer of 2018.

Academic Technology at OLC Innovate 2018!

Andrew, Dann, and Janet presented at the Online Learning Consortium Innovate! Conference in Nashville.  Their talks were (respectively):

Dann’s notes from sessions he attended are summarized below:

Planning, Producing, and Evaluating Effective Instructional Videos

UPDATE 4/13/18: 

Thanks to everyone who’s taken this instructional video quiz so far! (Already over 100 of you!)

quiz results displayed in horizontal bar graph showing anonymous results. most respondents got 3 or more questions right out of 4.

Here’s a screenshot of what the analytics look like. You can see how people responded by question, AND, when users are actually logging into the software, you can track how each individual person responds. For this, everyone shows up as unauthenticated–but that’s OK, since I’m not actually assigning you a grade. 🙂 If you still want to take the quiz, here’s the link: https://carleton.yuja.com/V/VideoPoll/1909

Ever wonder what your students are actually learning when watching your instructional videos?  There are lots of ways to assess learning with video, and I wanted you to see this fun and SHORT — 60 second — video before my presentation in at OLC Nashville! I’ll be discussing Planning, Producing, and Evaluating Effective Instructional Videos. On that note, I’d love to have you check-out this “video quiz” that lets instructors see what their students learn while watching the video.  It’s one of many assessment tools available to us in education nowadays.  (And yes, I used a Little Prompter to ensure my own flawless delivery in the video. : )  Long to short, I’d be thrilled if you watched it and answered the four SHORT questions. I’m tracking analytics, and am interested to see how your answers look when compiled with lots of others. Feel free to share this post, too!   Just click the following link, below, to jump to the video, and for those attending OLC in Nashville, we can checkout the results together!  Thanks!


Carly Born presents at ELI 2018!

Carly answers questions at a poster session; man in suit jacket with back to camera gestures at a series of visualizations on the poster.

Carly recently presented a poster at the Educause Learning Initiative’s Annual Meeting with Liz Evans, Director of the Liberal Arts Consortium for Online Learning (LACOL), titled “Collaboration Towards a Diagnostic and Refresher Framework for Language Learning in the Liberal Arts.“.

Carly also wrote up one particularly interesting session. See the excerpt below and read the full post on her blog, The Space Between!

My favorite talk in this area was given by Joel Smith and Lauren Herckis from Carnegie Mellon University on their 2-year ethnographic study of the barriers and facilitators to implementing educational technologies. For this study, Lauren Herckis (an anthropologist) followed 4 projects implementing new technology in some way for 2 years, with the goal of identifying “the barriers and facilitators to implementing educational technologies and best practices in teaching.” (Smith and Herckis, 2018, Slide 3)

Inspirations from ISSOTL17

photo of mountain range against cloudy sky with evergreens in foreground

Earlier this month, I was lucky to attend my first ISSOTL conference in one of my favorite places, Calgary, Alberta. The theme was “Reaching New Heights,” and while I learned about new-to-me resources, programs, and projects — captured in this Storify — I wanted to return to 2 sessions that continue to stick with me.

The first was a panel by Jessica Riddell, Lisa Dickson, and Shannon Murray on using metaphors for communication, both with students learning threshold concepts and with faculty and admin who might be averse to education jargon. We talked about discovering or crafting metaphors as groups of learners, as opposed to a top-down approach which might further confuse things with culturally and contextually opaque metaphors. Unsurprisingly, we all had stories where we failed with dated or “old” examples.

What struck me about this session in particularly was the discussion toward the end where we got together in small groups and talked about threshold concepts in our respective disciplines. One of our colleagues teaching accounting at an institution in Thailand and had never considered the threshold concepts of his field. The other 3 of us went first, sharing a couple examples from english, history, and communications and then he shared a point that always proved tricky for students: asset = liability + equity. Working together, we teased out the concepts behind the sticky point (assumption that liability is always negative and asset is simply positive) and thought through some metaphors that would help students understand the concepts. The most compelling metaphor: a dating game. (nb: we did discuss how to keep this metaphor from getting creepy) This was a great example of what an interactive session can accomplish: fostering real conversation across disciplines where people come out at the end having learned something unexpected.

The second panel by Krista Grensavitch, Ariel Beaujot, and Casey O’Brien talked about using feminist and queer theories to inform 3 different courses. Anyone who knows me knows that this was irresistible intellectual catnip. Still, I will admit I partially braced myself for slight disappointment and was happily wrong.

What I found compelling about each was the openness of each presenter to acknowledge failures, struggles, and places of sharing authority and power — which is to say, I appreciated how each paid more than lip service to the theories they invoked. See how Grensavitch talks about the local history and art installation project created by her women’s history students, and how the latter talk about connecting to their families and local communities in the process. (nb: I wish more instructors created these kinds of videos of their teaching practice and student thought and work)

Not only did I leave the session impressed by the courses presented, but I came out refreshed that it isn’t too much to ask instructors to consider and apply feminist/queer/disability/critical race theories of pedagogy to their instruction and what a difference it can make.