DLIFLC connects students to digital applications
September 16, 2011
By Brian Lamar
PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- Technology in the classroom is not new at Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center. In fact, the Institute began using interactive whiteboards,
or SMART Boards, as early as 2003.
In 2005, DLIFLC began to transform the Institute's information technology network infrastructure
by upgrading and expanding the bandwidth, and by establishing wireless network services throughout the campus.
Today, more than 660 classrooms have SMART Boards, and every student is issued a tablet PC and iPod in order to take notes, interact with the SMART Boards during lessons, save materials,
and deliver homework to instructors. DLI is also experimenting with an iPad pilot program in the Dari course. Approximately 50 iPads were incorporated into the classroom to facilitate learning.
At the close of FY10, there were more than 2,500 iPods in use at DLIFLC. The iPods have proven to be an invaluable asset to language learning in the classroom as they allow students to record language conversations, replay podcasts assigned in order to do homework, download audio files used in the curriculum, etc.
To date, the iPod Classic has been the principal iPod-type device issued at DLIFLC, while some students have recently been receiving the next generation, iPod Touch, which has more video viewing options and Wi-Fi capability.
Another recent success has been the alternate use of network infrastructures. Because the effectiveness of DLIFLC instruction has been hampered by the DoD-wide restrictions on mobile computing, social learning applications and access to authentic materials, the Institute
began exploring a better method of application for web based curriculum and products.
In August 2010, DLI and NPS signed a MOU to establish an academic network at DLI. The availability of such an academic network will serve to further unleash the capabilities of these technologies and more effectively leverage learning resources in support of DLIFLC's critical foreign language mission.
Establishment of a more flexible network infrastructure on campus has enabled digital learners and instructors to share information, receive feedback, and use relevant real-world/authentic materials. This makes studying language and culture more relevant to the students' increasingly virtual lives.
More than 3,000 tablet PCs are currently issued to students in the various language school departments at DLIFLC. The tablet PCs are particularly useful for writing non-Latin scripts as they support the use of digital pens. Likewise, each student receives an iPod" preloaded with all of the instructional audio materials for the entire foreign language course they are attending. DLIFLC's curriculum has been digitized, and new curriculum is developed with SMART Boards, laptop, and digital audio devices in mind.
The tablet PCs have been instrumental in allowing students to connect to a wide range of foreign language learning and cultural learning resources, some of which are specifically contracted by DLIFLC and designed for tablet PC use including: SCOLA, (downloadable, copyright cleared television broadcasts in more than 100 languages), Transparent Language, offering Rapid Rote, a popular computer-based flash card program allows students to download and create their own lists to upload and share; Joint Language University, a portal to ILR rated instruction and DLPT testing materials; and Blackboard.
The learning content management system that allows instructors and students to have an online interface where assignments can be posted, testing can be facilitated, and discussions and pertinent software lists are made available.