Silver medal in the 2014 Learning Impact Awards
SpeakApps
14/05/2014

The IMS Global Learning Consortium has its headquarters in the US state of Florida and its members include large corporations and institutions such as IBM, Samsung, the University of Cambridge, the University of California, the Open University of Japan or Australia's Department of Education, among many others. The prize winners were announced at the organization's conference held in New Orleans, USA.

The SpeakApps platform was created by the UOC's School of Languages to provide a response to the need to work on oral production and interaction in foreign languages in virtual environments. The School currently has around 8,000 students at different levels. These students are provided with a series of multifunctional tools to aid online foreign language learning. Highlights from among these tools include the SpeakApps: Videochat, a video-conferencing system for small groups; Langblog, a blog for practising oral language, and Tandem, a content manager for video-conferencing activities. Likewise, teachers can also consult the SpeakApps Open Educational Resources, which include activities for oral production and interaction. Teachers can search the resources by criteria or use the built-in editor to create online tasks.

In the words of Christine Appel, director of the eLearn Center, the UOC's e-learning research centre, "we are currently using these tools in language learning activities at the UOC with very satisfactory results. Thanks to these tools, we can now develop all the oral expression activities available in face-to-face language teaching settings online. They also offer added value, as we can provide students with more time to practise their oral expression, higher quality feedback and the chance to go over the recordings of all their activities from the virtual classroom at any time."

The platform has been developed by the UOC's Office of Learning Technology and transferred to a number of different education institutions. Likewise, Netherlands' University of Groningen, Ireland's Dublin City University, Finland's University of Jyvskyla and Poland's Jagiellonian University were all partners in the project.


SpeakApps, rated 9 out of 10 by the EU

Experts from the European Union produced a report for the European Commission, giving the project a final average rating of 9 out of 10. The report praised SpeakApps' creativity and sustainability, highlighting the excellent use of interactivity and video tools, and the high levels of participation in the pilot test.

Likewise, these experts commended the use of social networks, such as YouTube, SlideShare, Picassa or Twitter, to publicize the results, which has led to the website receiving 7,000 unique visitors and 27,000 page views.

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