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Valdosta State University

Case Studies - East Kingston Elementary School

About Valdosta State University

Nestled in the heart of South Georgia, Valdosta State University (VSU) is one of four comprehensive universities in the University System of Georgia. In the fall of 2016, total enrollment at VSU was 11,375. With almost 200 students and faculty participating in study abroad and exchange programs, the university exposes students to a multitude of cultures, both on campus and overseas.

Challenge

The language faculty at Valdosta State University required better language technology – specifically a platform that included a pronunciation tool that included feedback for the students and a scoring meter to help students improve their speech. The school had tried other programs, but felt that they lacked the capability for students to get feedback on their pronunciation.

Solution

In search of a new program, former Department Chair Viki Soady discovered Transparent Language Online. The language faculty at Valdosta State University knew immediately that Transparent Language Online would be a better fit for them, given the larger range of available languages, lessons, and courses it includes, as well as the highly desired pronunciation tools for students to practice their speech. The instructors also felt the program was easy to navigate and intuitive. To their surprise, another feature they were not considering (but were happy to learn about), was the ability for teachers to create their own lessons in Transparent Language Online and assign these lessons to their students.

Results

Valdosta State University started using Transparent Language Online in the fall of 2013. The most intensive users of the program have been the Spanish language faculty and students. They have found the program to be extremely helpful, particularly with their online classes, and advocate adoption when speaking with other faculty, students, and staff about using the program.

Use of Transparent Language Online by the Modern Languages Department at VSU has spread across both physical and online classrooms. Several teachers noted that when transitioning from face-to-face class to online classes, it is more difficult for students to practice pronunciation and receive feedback - Transparent Language Online has helped to fill that gap.

Many Spanish instructors at VSU count Transparent Language Online usage as a portion of the students' grades (for some, up to 50% of the students' homework grade). For some of the Spanish classes, students are expected to spend about an hour on the Transparent Language Online lessons, with points given for their activity, making Transparent Language Online lessons a very high percentage of the student's grade. Other classes use the program for extra credit.

Instructors and students also appreciate the personalized learning experience delivered by Transparent Language Online. The learning activities in the program are adaptive; each student will see the material they know less frequently than the material they struggle with. In addition, Transparent Language Online uses a spaced repetition algorithm to manage the presentation of previously learned vocabulary to ensure that students retain what they have learned throughout the semester and years of study.

Other instructors value the lesson authoring tools and class management capabilities. Instructors create lessons that align with their curriculum, assign these authored lessons and other the lessons created by Transparent Language to their classes, establish due dates, and post notes to the class. Transparent Language Online's reporting tools allow traditional and virtual instructors to monitor student progress and report on detailed student activity.

"There is a definite difference between my students before and after Transparent Language Online," noted Dr. Michelle Ocasio, Associate Professor of Spanish at VSU. "They sound like regular, native speakers walking along the street."

And it's not just instructors who are pleased with the program. Students at VSU have this to say about Transparent Language Online:

"I think Transparent Language is very helpful especially being able to listen to words in slow motion. I also like the built-in repetitions that give you more practice. It never asks you a vocabulary word just once. You have to answer correctly multiple times before moving on and I think that helps for learning and remembering the material in the long run."

"Transparent Language is a good tool. I like the way the assignments are organized so that I can concentrate on learning the material. It is all set up for me whenever I log in, and I just start right into it. … I respond very well to taking a quiz with immediate grading and then being allowed to retake the parts I missed. That way my time is devoted to the areas I am weak in. It makes me determined to keep at it until I get a perfect score, and that is very satisfying."

Since 2013, faculty, students, and staff at Valdosta State University have logged over 15,000 learning sessions in Transparent Language Online, with an average session time of over 30 minutes. Due to Spanish instructors using the program for their curriculums, Latin American Spanish usage is dominant, but other popular languages accessed around campus include French, English, Arabic, and Japanese. As instructors on campus advocate for the program, they encourage more language instructors to pick up the program for integrated use in their curriculum.