A Note From the Chair

CATEGORIES: Nov./Dec. 2014

Dear Friends,

It looks like winter is here!  In early November Ames received a dusting of snow that brought with it some very cold temperatures.  What happened to fall?

This month’s note features instructional technology and language learning.  Let me start by asking if you have visited our website lately?  Just head over to www.language.iastate.edu.  Over the past few months, we have redesigned the site to connect better with students, alumni and supporters—you!  In fact, our tagline—“World Languages & Cultures: Our ‘& Isn’t Just in our Name”—underscores our commitment to connect students to their personal and professional goals. So, whether you want to study French & Management, Spanish & Architecture, German & Chemical Engineering or Classical Studies & the Law—“We’ll help you find your &.”  In the coming weeks, we will continue to work out the bugs on the new site and populate it with more content. Our Facebook and Twitter feeds will also play a prominent role on the site as will student bio sketches, interviews, video features, and helpful information for studying world languages. 

Let us know your thoughts about our new web presence, and if you want to contribute a profile or be featured in some way on the site or in the newsletter, we would appreciate hearing from you.

The new WLC website is an example of just one of the many technological changes happening in universities these days.  In WLC, faculty have tightly integrated technology into their teaching—just as students take advantage of new and emerging tools for learning.  As you may know, some courses in the department are taught completely online using such formats as Blackboard or Moodle.  Others use a hybrid format that splits time in the virtual world of Second Life and in the real one.  And, of course, the vast majority of courses taught these days are still in the traditional face-to-face format.  In all cases, instructors routinely make use PowerPoint or Prezi presentations, internet sources featuring important audio and video materials, and a wide array of other electronic resources that help engage the students on many levels.  Other technologies include social media channels, online reading and writing projects, and voice and video recording tools. Even the traditional face-to-face courses have changed quite a bit as instructors bring in laptop carts or utilize tablets in daily lessons.

For their part, students often bring laptops, tablets, and smartphones for oral presentations, to take notes, to work on group projects, or to collaborate with other students in small group formats.  And, yes, some students still use pen and paper! 

Keeping up with this changing pedagogical landscape can be challenging for both students and instructors.  Fortunately, the Department of World Languages and Cultures has a resource center to aid both groups.  The Language Studies Resource Center (LSRC), located on the third floor of Pearson Hall, provides audio, video, textual, and electronic materials in support of language studies at Iowa State University, thereby serving as the instructional technology hub of the Department. The LSRC manages and operates three important spaces:

The main center, in 3143 Pearson, offers 20 IMacs with both OSX and windows operating systems and specialized software for language study. The LSRC also has a media collection of over 3000 books, films, and DVDs, Dish Network broadcasting in several languages from around the world, tables for individual or group study, and a conference room study space which can be reserved for use by students. The LSRC is also a great place for creation: students can check out video cameras and tripods to film a project and then use software on LSRC computers to edit their work.´ At any given moment in the LSRC, students are collaborating on projects in one of the workspaces, using the computer stations for online courses or to work on a paper, or watching a movie or TV show from across the world.

The LSRC also manages a classroom computer lab, Pearson 3113, equipped with 30 student stations and 1 dual-monitor instructor station, two video projectors and screens, and an A/V cabinet containing a multi-region DVD player, and surround sound equipment.  The classroom is reserved throughout the day to instructors who would like to integrate a higher-than-normal level of technology into their daily lessons or which require student access to workstations to work on projects.

Finally, the LSRC also operates a seminar classroom, Pearson 3158, furnished with mobile tables that allow for the room to be configured in several ways.  Generally, this room is perfect for senior seminar courses or those which require small and medium group interaction.

To learn more about the LSRC and its offerings visit http://language.iastate.edu/lsrc.  If you would like to see these resources in action, feel free to stop by the department at anytime.  We welcome the opportunity to talk with you more!