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SpeakApps Newsletter Issue 1 Volume 1      
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Welcome to the first edition of SpeakApps Ezine. We hope you enjoy reading it. 

About SpeakApps

 
The SpeakApps Project focuses on creating a free and open source online platform that gathers ICT-based applications and pedagogies to practice oral skills online. Please click on the Youtube video on the right  to learn more about the SpeakApps project.  Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any queries at speakapps@uoc.edu.
     
   Click on image to view video about SpeakApps Project

Silver Medal at the 2014
Learning Impact Awards

 
                     
 
SpeakApps was awarded a silver medal at the 2014 Learning Impact Awards conference held in May in New Orleans, USA. These annual awards are given in recognition of the best innovative initiatives in technological applications that contribute to improving education worldwide.

The conference is run by the IMS Global Learning Consortium which is a non-profit organization promoting use of learning technologies in hgiher education. Members of the IMS Global Learning Consortium include large corporations and institutions, such as IBM, Samsung, the University of Cambridge, the University of California, the Open University of Japan and the Australian Department of Education.  

 

 SpeakApps Training

 Course in Spanish

 
 
Following the success of the online training course offered in English in March and April 2014, SpeakApps is pleased to announce a second online training course in Spanish in May and June 2014.  Participants will learn to use the SpeakApps tools and how to design content for online speaking tasks in their language classes.

The course, run by an experienced team of SpeakApps users, begins on 26 May and runs for three weeks. Participants should expect to spend two to three hours per week involved in the activities, and will gain enough knowledge to use the tools on their own in their own classrooms. Anyone who is interested in participating is welcome and should visit the announcement on the SpeakApps blog to sign up.

SpeakApps Ireland


 
Fiontar, based in Dublin City University, is in charge of the SpeakApps project in Ireland. Fiontar is an interdisciplinary school dealing with various areas of research and teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level through the medium of the Irish language. It also has a strong research faculty in the digital humanities. Fiontar’s students come from various linguistic backgrounds and the general level of Irish among the students at the beginning of the undergraduate course is around the A2 or B1 level, with some students being native speakers of Irish. Recently at a postgraduate seminar held in Coláiste Phádraig, a college of DCU, the affordances 
of SpeakApps for enhancing the speaking skill were described in order to disseminate information about the learning tools and the Open Educational Resource. 

In the coming months Fiontar will contribute to the proceedings of the Irish Learning Technology Association’s annual conference Eurovision 2020 with the presentation of findings and insights gained from the utilisation of the Speakapps tools.  Additionally, the team will publish papers in the proceedings of the he International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies in Education 2014.  Currently the team at Fiontar is working with international agencies such as the Fulbright Commission Ireland and the Irish Canadian University Foundation to organise seminars on SpeakApps to equip foreign language teaching assistants with technological competencies to enhance their courses and to support their students’ language development. The team is also working to put together seminars for secondary level language teachers and tutors to support them in their roles as educators. 

If you would like to organise a SpeakApps seminar please contact Colm Ó Ciardubháin at 01 700 5696 or colm.ociardubhain@dcu.ie

Growth of the OER

 
The SpeakApps Open Education Resources, a repository of activities for Langblog and Tandem, continues to grow. In the month from mid-March to mid-May 2014, the number of resources in the OER grew by more than 30%, mostly in English, but also with notable increases in German, French and Italian.

With training courses in Polish and Spanish starting soon, in the coming months, we expect to see new resources available in those languages as well. Please contact us to receive more information about these training courses at speakapps@uoc.edu

  12 March 2014 20 May 2014
English 234 326
Catalan   36   36
Dutch   32   40
Swedish   38    42
Polish   17   23
Gaelic   24   24
Spanish     9   15
German     3   10
French     3   18
Italian     0     6
Total Entries 396 508

SpeakApps Tools in Speech Pathology

 
SpeakApps project tools have the potential to find applications in areas focused on human-to-human communication other than language learning and teaching, but looking into ways of supplementing face-to-face interaction with the use of computer-mediated communication. One such specific area is speech pathology. Speech pathology, also known as speech therapy or speech and language pathology, is a field of health sciences dealing with the diagnosis and management of individuals who are unable to communicate effectively due to disease, injury or developmental delay. As such, it also falls under the area of human communication sciences. Speech pathologists engage in online analysis of their clients’ voice quality, articulation, speech and language patterns or fluency or they collect samples of their clients’ speech and language behaviours in order to analyse them at a convenient time. Therapy involves gradual eradication of ineffective or pathological communication patterns through feedback, modelling, increasing the client’s control over their speech/language or their error consciousness, and then development of new more effective speech and language
behaviours. Speech pathology can benefit from internet-based oral communication tools in ways similar to how the language learning and teaching profession does. The SpeakApps tools can be a valuable addition to virtual stuttering clinics, possibly simplifying the delivery and reducing the necessary resources. The Videoconference can be used: 1) to educate the parents in how to provide verbal contingences for stutter-free speech and stuttering, 2) to train the parents to measure the severity of the child’s stuttering, and 3) to conduct regular weekly consultations. Sessions with the parent, and, with the parent and child can be recorded for further analysis using the Videoconference Recording function. Additionally, the Langblog can be used by the parent to record their treatment sessions with their child and by the clinician to observe the parent and provide audiovisual feedback.

Another area of speech pathology where the SpeakApps tools can turn out particularly useful is the treatment of voice disorders. A small-scale project aimed at delivering voice management to transgender male-to-female patients at the La Trobe University Voice Clinic is currently considered. Delivery of voice management programs requires good quality audio recordings. The project will test if the SpeakApps tools can fulfill this criterion.

Langblog and Tandem proven to be relevant tools in a language immersion program at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands


         
 
In the academic year 2013-2014 the University of Groningen Language Centre offered an intensive language immersion program to a group of students from the Communication University of China, Beijing. The Chinese students study Dutch language and culture at their home university and are spending their year abroad in Groningen, the Netherlands. 

They took part in tailor-made courses in Dutch writing and speaking skills, Dutch language and history, and literature and film and general language courses at lower - (B1) and upper-intermediate level (B2) with other international students. Classroom activities were integrated 
with or followed by online activities with Langblog and Tandem.  Both Langblog and Tandem have been integrated into Blackboard - the university’s learning platform - these tools have demonstrated their usefulness by making it possible for students to improve their oral skills because Dutch is especially difficult to master for Chinese students when it comes to rhythm, stress and intonation.

Students used Langblog to record their performances. Tasks included an elevator pitch, describing past and future activities, and sharing and expressing thoughts. Not only did these students become aware of the problems they face with pronunciation and fluency, they also learnt how to use a set of strategies to express and illustrate their understanding of the topic. 


The Tandem program was considered beneficial to those students in need of more possibilities to practice and extend their vocabulary skills and focus on a range of grammatical issues. Students were guided to publish their digital artifacts right from their arrival. Video and audio recordings were published on Youtube and Soundcloud, presentations were published on Slideshare. 

The SpeakApps tools Langblog and Tandem improved the oral production and interaction skills of these students and prepared them to publish their final results on the website. 

 
 If you have any queries in relation to the SpeakApps project please do not hesitate to contact us. Our email address is speakapps@uoc.edu
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