Rising demands for GCSE Languages in 2013; how will your school cope?

Recent surveys show that the number of pupils set to sit language GCSEs next year will rise by 22% to 52%. (Source: England’s teacher training agency, BBC Education News) The rise is tied to the English Baccalaureate, which requires languages among other subjects.

There has also been a rise in the number of qualified language teachers but this rise is not keeping pace with demand from the students sitting language exams, according to professional bodies like the Association of Head Teachers.

Russell Hobby the general secretary puts it like this:

people really struggle to recruit language teachers, so it is a concern – particularly after a long period of time when modern foreign languages were in decline. It can take years to re-staff your languages faculty. It is one of those subject areas where you definitely need a qualification – it’s one subject you cannot fake.’ (Source: BBC Education News)

Investment in ‘next generation’ language lab software to fill the languages gap.

One of the ways to manage the language skills and recruitment gap is through the use of technology.  Next generation language lab technologies allow teachers to work with a greater number and variety of students in the key areas of language learning, in terms of listening, writing, speaking and reading skills.

Will Harvey, Languages & Enterprise Specialism Coordinator at Didcot Girls’ School says that the use of his Sony Virtuoso language lab:

means improved language learning outcomes, as students can be trained more quickly and efficiently in becoming bi or multilingual. Specifically a language lab speeds up listening and speaking skills, increases focused teacher instruction and guidance, amplifies opportunities for individual student learning differentiation and peer to peer assessment.’

Want to find out more? Request a ‘language lab for a day’ demonstration at your school.

UCLA chooses SONY Virtuoso language lab software

The UCLA Extension American Language Centre (ALC) in Los Angeles Westwood Village is one of the most successful intensive English Language Programmes in the World. Established since the mid 1970s ALC offers an Intensive English Communication Programme (IECP) that improves student communication skills for personal and professional needs and an Academic Intensive English Programme (AIEP) and University Preparation Track (UPT) for transition of non English speaking students into Universities in the USA. UCLA has recently chosen SONY Virtuoso language lab software programme for the instructional technology to drive it’s globally accredited English language training programmes.

For more information please visit our PDF here.

Ten reasons why a language lab is essential in modern languages teaching

Language labs are no longer simply about listening and repeating, recording and playing; only concentrating on the Oral and Aural skills.

The latest generation of labs can all support learning in the following ways:

1. Differentiation: In order to reach the same learning objectives, bespoke work can easily be provided to the learner.  Differentiation by text, task or outcome is made simple as the teacher is able to deliver pupil specific work directly to each pupils’ computer
2. Independent learning:  Pupils are able to immerse themselves in their learning, using online resources to solve problems and having their teacher on call to support them
3. Controlled Assessments:  Newer language labs are able to collect and label students’ work at the click of a button. This work could be an audio recording or a written text. Practice and preparation for the written and spoken controlled assessments can be easily stored and evaluated and feedback can be given through the language lab.
4. Assessment for learning: Language labs allow pupils to review their own work and note areas for improvements. Learners can also review and feedback on each other’s work; a sound example of Assessment for Learning in practice.
5. Instant feedback: Newer labs have in built quiz or test features where multiple choice questions can be created using audio, video and web based resources.  The answers can be sent directly to the teacher for marking or the software can do the marking for you.
6. Providing evidence of pupil progress: Using quiz and assessment features over a period of time will provide evidence of pupil progress to be shared with learners and used to set future targets. Assessment scores are stored centrally for easy access.
7. Behaviour management: Teachers are able to monitor remotely the pupils’ screens and limit which programs are to be used.  Teachers can also control remotely the learner’s keyboard and mouse.
8. Group work: By placing pupils in different groups it is possible to teach a number of lessons within one lesson, this is a great feature allowing teachers to differentiate; to support the weaker pupils and stretch the most able.
9. Talking your students’ language: students are exposed to a plethora of multimedia devices in the home, using a language lab to send rich multimedia files to students improves engagement in language lessons.
10. Whole school / campus wide access, efficiencies and cost savings
Truly software only language labs can be installed and used on any networked PC anywhere on a school, college or university campus. Students can access resources in one room, from room to room or from campus to campus.

For more information on the functionality to look for when considering upgrading your language lab technology- download our brochure and benchmarking chart here.

Ten reasons why game based learning works in education

1. Familiarity – Students are already familiar with many of the devices, regularly using iPads, iPhones, PSPs and (soon no doubt) the new PS Vita at home so adopting use inside the classroom can be quick and simple.  See ‘For The Young, Smartphones No Longer A Luxury Item’ http://techcrunch.com/2012-2019/02/20/for-the-young-smartphones-no-longer-a-luxury-item/ via @techcrunch
2. Engagement – Engages the disengaged. Teachers report regularly on how using digital resources in class captures student imagination. See a wonderful example here on the Guardian blog ‘An English teacher discovers digital literacy really works’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/teacher-network/2011-2019/dec/05/engage-disengaged-students-digital-literacy
3. Blended learning has a real place – blending traditional printed media with interactive multimedia gives you the best of both worlds. Technology no longer needs to play a supporting role.
4. A cost effective option – handheld multimedia devices can be cost effective and versatile additions to the classroom with teachers now using iPads, PS3, Wiis and shortly no doubt the new PS Vita. Plus an understanding of game based learning helps schools to make the best use of the technologies they already have, so many schools can get started without having to purchase any new devices.
5. Content galore! – Educational apps abound and it’s now really easy to create your own multimedia educational content for use on everything from language labs to macs, pcs and ipads. The internet is stuffed full of free resources to help bring content to life everything from Voki (used to create your own avators) to Camstudio (records all screen activity and turns it into a small video file)
6. On a misson! – game based learning also refers to the use of ‘mission’ and ‘quest’ based learning. A lovely example here from Soar Valley College where students used Sony PlayStation Portable and augmented reality software Second Sight to bring the secrets of the solar system to life.  http://www.connectededucation.com/case-study/making-sense-of-the-solar-system-with-sony-playstation/
7. Flexibility – Game based learning techniques are not just restricted to inside the classroom. Teachers report bringing class sets of PlayStation Portables out on field trips to make video diaries.  Robust and durable these new technologies mean educational content can still be accessed on the move.
8. Stay ahead – getting stuck in and embracing new technologies helps brings teacher multimedia skills up to date, equally an understanding of game based learning helps to support schools and teachers to make the most of the technologies they already have. See an example here of a successful game based learning intervention and deployment in action at The Richard Rose Morton Academy in Carlisle. http://www.connectededucation.com/case-study/richard-rose-morton-academy-leads-the-way-in-game-based-learning/
9. 21st century workplace skills, more and more organisations require different skills from the old Industrial model. Game based learning encourages these 21st century requirements of independent thinking, mission and quest based tasking, communication and collaboration skills.  Look at how many companies are using Google Docs, Apps, social media and a wider range of cloud based technologies to enable their workforce and be smarter. See http://thenextweb.com/ for latest news on internet technology.
10. The students love it! On a recent game based learning project designed to engage Y5 pupils in literacy at Foxhill Primary School when asked “Who likes writing?” at the start of the project, only 13 hands out of 23 went up. When asked “Who has enjoyed writing about our eye pet?” all 23 hands in the class went up!

Oh and its fun!

To get hands-on with game based learning techniques across the curriculum please join us on our Technology Enhanced Learning Event at Didcot Girls’ School on Tuesday 29th March. Visit our website here to find out more.

15 key functions to look for in a digital language lab

Most language labs can send, collect and manage audio and video files from teacher to student, however there are some extra and very important features that any discerning teacher / procurer should look for which will increase student attainment and engagement, these are particularly around clear audio, increased functionality, product future proofing and accessibility from anywhere on a local or wide area network.

Here is a list of 15 key functions that highlight these attributes.

1. There is no discernible ‘lag’ between a teacher and multiple students talking to each other
2. The ‘Collect work’ function should be simple and easy to implement.
3. The software should have a file association functionality
4. New student pairing can be added without having to restart the lesson
5. There should be an ‘Automatic Comparative Recording’ (ACR) facility on the student player
6. Students should be able to ‘text chat’ in pairs
7. The software should enable ‘real time’ recording between teacher and student
8. The teacher console should be able to send multiple files to a student desktop
9. The teacher should be able to disable windows from the teacher console to any designated student desktop
10. The student software should have an extensive bookmarking functionality
11. On the student client software extra audio can be added by ‘right click, insert, record’
12. Audio can be easily extracted from video files
13. The teacher interface is simple and easy to use
14. The teacher can control audio files after they have been sent to students
15. The teacher can open and close files for individual students

For more information on the functionality to look for when considering upgrading your language lab technology- download our brochure and benchmarking chart here.

PlayStation VITA: a powerful new mobile gaming console with real educational opportunities

Sony’s new handheld gaming console launches on Wednesday 22nd February.

From an education perspective the new handheld device is very different from its predecessor the PlayStation Portable (PSP). The VITA is first and foremost a sophisticated and powerful games console with some very commercial and engaging next generation games content. The PSP was a great and robust media player that played games. That said there will be some great ways that education can use a VITA.

First and foremost, the VITA’s new controls really enhance in the creation and editing of ‘user generated content’ by creating levels in games like LittleBigPlanet2. The front touch screen and rear touch sensitivity, combined with the standard PS3 gaming control buttons makes editing and level creation even more dynamic and engaging. We can see that using the VITA will increase the ability to tailor and edit user generated content in LBP2 with an educational focus. (Please join us on Tuesday 20th March at our Technology Enhanced Learning Conference at Didcot Girls’ School where use of LBP2 and language learning will be presented. You’ll find more information about the event on our website here.) The PS Vita also has a built in augmented reality feature, which although at the moment plays just games will become more adaptive in time.

Secondly there is the inherent range and quality of the device, with its access to playing videos, taking photos, remote play, group messaging, browser, touch screen, PSN, access with PS3, motion sensors, microphone and either wi-fi or 3G connectivity. As more and more practitioners start to use the huge feature set, new ways of collaboration, exchange and accessing media will act as a catalyst to how education can adapt the content and deliver real learning outcomes. Please see the PS Vita in action in the launch video below.

We are pleased to offer the PS Vita to education for £231 +Vat and delivery for wi-fi and 3G mobile version and £189.99 + Vat and delivery for wifi only.

Download the vita training manual here.

Retweet details on our Technology Enhanced Learning Event for a chance to win a pair of tickets.

The event on Tuesday 20th March at Didcot Girls’ School will examine using web 2.0 and game based technologies and how they can enhance teaching and learning across the curriculum .We are offering one lucky winner a chance to win a pair of tickets to the event on 20th March. Enter by retweeting. Visit our ConnectED Global twitter page and retweet.

Full event details can be found here.

Terms & Conditions
1. This competition is run by ConnectED Services Ltd.
2. This competition is open to EU residents aged 18 and over only.
3. You can enter on Twitter no more than twice per day, this is to avoid spamming the Twitter time-line.
4. The competition ends Midnight 9th March 2012, winners will be picked at random by an independent 3rd party and announced shortly after.
5. ConnectED Services Ltd reserves the right to end or amend this competition at any time without notice.
6. The competition winner / winners must arrange his/her own travel and/or accommodation for the event.
7. No cash alternative is available.
8. Employees and immediate family members of ConnectED Services Limited are not eligible to enter.
9. By entering the competition you agree to your details being used in follow up publicity on our website and in our direct mail campaigns.
10. Winners agree to be contacted by the ConnectED marketing team to be included in a case study post event. Good luck!
11. Please visit our privacy policy here

A language lab free for a day*

Thinking of upgrading your dated language learning resources? Have a demonstration suite of laptops with Sony Virtuoso language software at your school, college or university for a day. This offer ends on Friday 30th March 2012.

Teachers and senior managers can evaluate how to use the latest ‘next generation’ Sony technology to improve language learning. Classroom teachers will get a hands-on training session on how our Sony Virtuoso language lab works with rich multimedia content to engage students and enhance language learning. The day long session will showcase the rich features of Sony Virtuoso including reliability, audio quality and accessibility. The training will also show how to take the media created and used in the lab onto student devices like iPads, mobile phones and games consoles.

Our training team will come to your school, college or university and set up a demo suite of laptops. Once set up we will conduct training and deliver a mini language lesson both before and after lunch for students, teachers and senior managers to assess and evaluate.

For more information and to discuss arranging a date please contact [email protected]   +44(0) 844 800 9375.

To help and support instituitions in evaluating the latest language lab software we have produced a benchmarking chart highlighting technical features and functionality.

Download the brochure and benchmarking chart here.

*Our language lab free for a day offer is subject to pre-qualification and is available to UK (excluding NI)  schools, colleges and universities only. ConnectED reserve the right to end or amend this offer at any time.

ConnectED at Language World 30 – 31 March 2012

You’ll find us on stand 64 at Language World on 30th – 31st March 2012, University of Manchester. Language world is a 2 day conference and exhibition where teachers from all over the country meet up to contribute to the future of language teaching and learning.  Please visit the team on stand and find out more on ‘next gen’ language lab Sony Virtuoso and expert hints and tips on technolology enhanced learning in languages.
For more and to book places please visit the organisers website here.

Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Conference Launches

We are now taking bookings for our Technology Enhanced Learning Event (TEL) Conference at Didcot Girls’ School, Oxfordshire on Tuesday 20th March 2012. With a strong focus on languages the event will examine using web 2.0 and game based technologies and how they can enhance teaching and learning not just in languages but in other subjects across the curriculum. The event is a must for headteachers & teachers across all levels of education who want to understand and use game based learning and multimedia technologies effectively to deliver engaging and successful learning experiences.

Please see the full agenda here. Places costs £50 + Vat / delegate.
We are now taking bookings online, please visit our online booking form here.