Digital Language SchoolsDigital language schools providing on-line e-learning courses
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The project is co-financed by Lifelong Learning Programme 2007 - 2013 of European Commission (Leonardo da Vinci, Multilateral projects/Transfer of Innovation).


LangSchool.EU Guide

Digital Language School

Digital Language School is not just website, it's a whole learning environment. It's better to think of a virtual building with people inside. Like in a real school, in a digital langschool, we have students & teachers, classrooms, textbooks, study plans, tests (exams) and study results.

All activities and interactions related to the courses will take place inside the Digital Language School.

The main internet point for the Eurochance Digital Language Schools is www.LangSchool.EU

Digital language schools run in various countries and you will likely be using only one of them. They are for example no.langschool.eu in Norwegian, it.langschool.eu in Italy, sk.langschool.eu in Slovakia, cz.langschool.eu in Czech Republic and es.langschool.eu in Spain.

Before the teaching starts, both students and teachers must already be familiar with the environment. They must be signed up in the school and in the appropriate course, they must know where is the info desk, library, study rooms, where to find their teacher etc. So there will be some kind of orientation at the very beginning. A good part of this orientation is reading this manual.

Once students and tutors know the school, their duties and the schedules, the course can start!

Basics

Courses

In a course, the students will be given a study plan according to which they will study the appropriate lessons under the supervision of their tutor. They will use the digital textbook for learning and practice and at the end of each lesson or block, they will be asked to fill in a progress test (exam), according to which their performance in the course will be evaluated.

Digital textbook

The link to the digital textbook can be found on the main page of every course. It includes grammar, vocabulary (written and pronunciation) and interactive self-evaluating exercises for practice.

The role of the tutor is more to lead, consult, overview or evaluate than to explain. The automatic exercises (such as dictation) allow the student to absorb much of the material by self-study, while the tutor can concentrate on more important things – individual corrections, explanations and guidance.

The textbook is NOT simple and stupid, as might be your first impression. There is methods for detailed evaluation of the automatic exercises, the dictation exercise is very usable. Students however NEED TO check out the manual as much of the functionality is available through keyboard shortcuts and not visible at first sight. See the overview of Keyboard shortcuts overview.

Communication

Students and tutors interact by sending messages but also face-to-face in live teleconference sessions. Everything happens inside the Digital language school and not elsewhere (such as on telephone). Find more details in Communication tools.

Tests

At given intervals according to the study plan, students will complete tests. Tests serve for examination and just like in an ordinary school, they are different from exercises in a textbook in that a student can only complete them once, record of these answers is kept in the system, evaluated and normally not possible to change at a later date. Once a student completes a test, it will be sent to the tutor for evaluation, and he can write a commentary and/or assign additional points if the automatic system doesn't recognize a correct answer.

You can find an overview of your tests on the main page for your course under “Courses/My Courses”. For tests you have already completed, you can see the assigned points, suggested correct answers and additional comments by the tutor.

Communication tools

Once students are enrolled in the language school, all communication between students, tutors and the support happens inside the digital language school, not by external means such as emails or VOIP. It is the same as in an ordinary language school, where students & teachers are also supposed to meet in the building and not call each other e.g. by cell phone.

There are two communication tools:

  • leaving notes (Boards)
  • face-to-face (Communicator)

Boards

Discussion on notice boards. There is separate boards for each language course and also one for support requests. In every board, there are multiple topics, where you can post your messages and read replies.

The notes are static. They stay there when you leave. A reply will usually come only after some time – a few hours or days. Every time there is a new message under your topic, you get a notification by email. Do not reply to this email, but use the provided link to reply on the board in the language school.

While creating a new topic (thread), you can choose whether you are directing your message to someone particular in the 'For:' field. Such threads will be private and only visible to the sender ('By:') and receiver ('For:'). If you do not choose a particular person in the ('For:') field, everyone will be able to read the communication.

Communicator

The Communicator provides a direct face-to-face communication, similar to a chat. If allowed in Flash, it broadcasts and receives audio (voice from your microphone), video (from your PC camera) and text messages you type in. In this way, students can talk with tutors and also discuss written examples.

Meetings on the communicator happen in previously agreed rooms and in previously agreed times. Everyone who wants to talk to and hear each other must join the same room at the agreed time. Once you join the room, your voice is immediately being broadcasted and you should hear the others. If you also want to see the others video, you must choose their nicknames in the video section on the right.

These meetings are not being recorded nor archived. You only hear what is happening and others hear you if you are in the meeting room.

People

There is four kinds of people in the language school. It's important to understand their roles.

StudentThe one who want to study
TutorIn charge of torture and executions
AdminThe housekeeper. Keeps the school in shape, prepares courses, Allows new people in, calls a repairman if something breaks.
SupportThe information desk. Provides information about the courses and the technical details of the school to students and tutors. Receives and relays complaints and feedback.

Since the way in which each of them uses the language school is different, the rest of this chapter is split into sections. You only need to read the section relevant for you.

Student

How do I register at the language school?

You need to find your national language school at www.langschool.eu and contact them via email or telephone about your wish to enroll in the school and courses. You must agree the details and conditions, and sign some papers and get officially accepted.

Then go to the website of your language school (e.g. es.langschool.eu) and in the Login panel, click New users registration, then follow the process according to instructions to pickup your login name, password, fill in contact details and validate your email address.

How do I sign up for a course?

Once you have received an email that your electronic registration to the language school has been accepted, attend the website again, login with your email and password, go to the section “Courses/All Courses” in “Main navigation”, choose the course you are interested in and click “Enroll”. You should receive a confirmation email once your enrollment is accepted.

How do I study?

Once you are enrolled in a course, you can find it under “Courses/My courses”. The page contains basic information about your course, a listing of tests (examination) and a link to the interactive textbook.

You should also get yourself familiar with the Discussion Boards and Communicator in section “Communication”. Check out the student guide and study plans in section “Documents”.

Instructions for how to work with the interactive textbook can be found in the first chapter of every textbook. Read them to learn about the necessary keyboard shortcuts.

You will now be using all of these tools according to instructions from your tutor.

Examination

When your tutor asks you to, go to the main page of your course from “Courses/My courses” and click on the test you want to make. Carefully fill in all the answers and press the key ENTER (or the “Submit” button) only after you have completed all the exercises. You will not be able to change your answers after you submit the test.

Later, come back to check your results. If you have questions, address your tutor on the Discussion board.

Problems and questions

If you have any organizational or technical problems or questions, address support in the room “Support” on the discussion board. You can also meet support on the Communicator or ask over phone if you can't access the website or the problem is urgent.

Summary

  • You first need to register to the langschool AND enroll in a particular course
  • For study, use the textbook, communicator, boards, and documents
  • For doing interactive textbook exercises, read the textbook instructions first
  • Tests are exams and can only be filled in once
  • Ask technical and organization questions to Support, e.g. on Discussion boards.

Tutor

What do I need to do

You are not going to manage students enrollment or help students with technical problems. Your task is fully on the educational side and when the course starts for you, the students should already be ready for their first language lesson.

You do not need to explain the vocabulary and grammar to the students. The digital textbook with the self-evaluating exercises allows them to self-study a lot. You should concentrate on the individual feedback and helping each student with his most important problems.

Your task is to:

  • Overview the progress of the students, check their results, check the time-line
  • Ask the students to fill in tests and subsequently review them
  • Give students written assignments and participate in face-to-face talking Communicator sessions according to the study plan

Documents -- Tutor guide and study plans

To know how to run the course, what is the time-line and suggested activities, please read carefully the Tutor guide and Study plan for your course in the section “Documents” in “Main navigation” on the website.

How do I monitor the progress of my students?

You can check the list of students on the main course page. By clicking on the name of the student, you can see the list of tests taken and remaining.

You are supposed to review each test manually, to provide the student with feedback in a comment and to assign additional points where the automatic evaluation system doesn't recognize a correct answer, or where the answer is correct in the important part but contains a mistake in some unimportant detail. A column in the table displays whether a test has been reviewed already.

Problems and questions

If you have any organizational or technical problems or questions, address support in the room “Support” on the discussion board. You can also meet support on the Communicator or ask over phone if you can't access the website or the problem is urgent.

Summary

  • You are in charge of only educational matters
  • Study Tutor guide and Study plans before course starts
  • Part of examination are online tests, which are partly self-evaluating
  • Ask technical and organization questions to Support, e.g. on Discussion boards

Admin

New course

If you need to create a new course, which is not yet in the system, go to “Courses/All courses”, then click New record and fill in the details. Currently available are:

  • intermediate-en, intermediate-de, intermediate-it, intermediate-es
  • advanced-en, advanced-de, advanced-it, advanced-es

Please select an appropriate teaching language. Not all courses are available in all languages. Advanced courses are only available in their own language (Advanced Spanish in Spanish etc.) After you create a new course, check that the link to the textbook works (if not, it might be that you have selected an unavailable teaching language).

You also need to include the tests for the appropriate lessons. On the main course page, under the heading “Tests” click “New test”. For predefined tests choose ,,predefined test'' and in the “Source text” field fill in just an identifier in the form “test01”, “test02”, until “test15” for the appropriate lessons.

You can also use the tests of type Essay or create your own test in the Eurochance LCG format.

Also, you need to make sure there is a relevant study plan in the Documents section or upload a new one.

How do I allow new users in?

You should get email notifications about all user registration requests. Then follow the provided link or log in to your langschool and go to “Management interface/User Management” and set filter to ,,Inactive users''. You can then allow new users one by one by changing their ,,Access Rights/Role'' from ,,Account disabled'' to one of ,,Student'', ,,Tutor'', ,,Support'' or exceptionally also ,,Admin''.

It's important to assign new users the correct role, e.g. Student or Tutor.

Also, before the course starts, you must accept the enrollment requests of students for the particular course. You can do that in the main page for the corresponding course in “Courses/All courses”.

How do I change the text on the front page, contact information etc.

You can do that in the administration interface accessible through “Administration interface” link in the Login section. Detailed instructions are here: http://cvs.freebsoft.org/doc/wiking/pages.html

How do I deal with technical problems?

If there is technical problems you can't deal with yourself, please write to eurochance-devel@lists.freebsoft.org .

Summary

  • You need to take care of the technical state of your langschool
  • You need to keep the content (study plans, tests, courses etc.) up to date
  • Accept new users in the administration interface and assign them correct roles Student/Tutor
  • Your technical support is eurochance-devel@lists.freebsoft.org

Support

Problems, questions, feedback or reports need to be directed to Support. Support can help/fix it or will relay the problem to the administrator, to the national project coordinator or to Brailcom.

You have to follow the topics in the discussion board “Support” and also be available (after previous agreement) for a face-to-face talk on the communicator.

It should be possible to reach Support also outside the Language school, over email or ordinary telephone, in case the students has such a problem, that he can't meet you inside the language school itself.

Support will also organize the orientation for new students, making sure they are ready and know how to use the school before the course starts and their meet with the tutor.

Students should not solve technical and organizational problems with the tutor, but always with support.

Summary

  • You need to monitor the Support room on Discussion boards and help

users with technical and organizational problems

  • If there is a technical problem you can't solve, write to eurochance-devel@lists.freebsoft.org
  • Make sure students know the langschool before course starts
  • It should be possible to reach you on telephone or email too

Keyboard shortcuts overview

Note that in screen readers like Jaws, you might need to use the pass through key with some shortcuts. In screen readers like Orca, everything works automatically

ActionShortcut
Enter menuCtrl-Shift-m
Move in menuCtrl-Shift-cursor_arrows
Evaluate answer(s)Enter
Exercise hintCtrl-Space
Dictation play next>
Dictation play previous<
Previous pageAlt-1
One level up pageAlt-2
Next pageAlt-3
Go to textbook indexAlt-4

Navigation

Basic information about how can a visually impaired person navigate in the digital language school.

Menu

For a better orientation and work with the school, we created a menu, which is available from every page in the application. A user can

enter the menu easily using a keyboard shortcut.

  • Jump into menu: Ctrl-Shift-m

(Some screen readers might require the pass through key first.)

Once you jump into the menu, you can move among its items up, down, or unroll them in the direction to the right and get back to the left.

  • Movement in menu: Ctrl-Shift-šipky (dolů, nahoru, doleva, doprava)

This way, you can navigate for example to the “Login” item. If you press the down arrow, you will move into the Login section. You can move around in this section using cursor arrows or the tab key.

Note: If the keyboard shortcuts written here don't work for you, it can be caused by a conflict with settings of other applications in your system. Try to describe your problem exactly and send this description to the Support desk in your language school.

Headings

The page is always split into several sections marked by a heading. The first level heading is reserved for the most important part of webpage, other sections are marked by headings of lower levels. Use the standard mechanisms of your screen reader to move around headings.

Buttons

Some actions are performed using buttons. Your navigation in a webpage will be easier, if you will be using functions to move around buttons in your screen reader.

Textbook navigation and audio records playback

Before using the digital textbook, also read its instructions which form its first chapter, to get information about additional mechanisms and keyboard shortcuts for audio playback, hints and automatic evaluation of the interactive exercises.

Requirements

Technical Requirements

Following is a list of technical requirements describing what a visually impaired user needs to be able to work with the Eurochance Language school.

Internet browser

  • Mozila Firefox 3.x or Internet Explorer 7 or higher
  • Javascript support
  • Flash plugin version10 or higher

Screen reader

It is possible to use the language school with all these screen readers:

JAWSVersion10. and higher is recommended but version9.0 is usefull. Version10 has better support for flash plugin and web aria.
NVDALast snapshot version from the 2nd of July 2009 and later is recommended for braille support via brltty.
VOICE OVERThe version in OS Leopard or newer in Snow Leopard is recommended.
ORCAOrca version 2.27 and higher.

Computer skills requirements

Internet browser

The user must already have skills in using an internet browser. He must be able to work with:

  • Links navigation
  • Lists navigation including navigation inside lists
  • Button navigation
  • Editable fields navigation
  • Form fields navigation
  • Checkboxes navigation
  • Multiple choice navigation
  • Headings navigation
  • Table navigation including navigation inside a table
  • Land marks navigation
  • Live regions (if in use by screen reader)

For screen readers which allows it they must know how use list of html elements and navigate in the list and select the required options.

Word processor

Read documents in current format, Microsoft DOC or ODF.

Sound and Video

The user must know how to set his sound system for audio recording. If he wishes to use the camera, he must also know how to setup his camera.