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Educators’ confidence in digital tools is increasing, but legitimate concerns remain. Not all ed tech is designed or implemented equally, so how can language teachers find the right tools to meet their needs—and the needs of their students?
A 2015 report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found a shift in the perception of ed tech. Summarized by EdSurge, the research indicated that “teachers are increasingly confident about the quality and usefulness of digital tools. Technology and tools have matured, and teachers have responded by putting them to use. Almost all (93 percent) of the more than 3,100 teachers we surveyed last year now regularly use some form of digital tool to guide instruction—although not all digital tools are seen as equally useful or effective.”
According to the Gates Foundation survey, the following five factors weigh heaviest when evaluating different ed tech tools:
When considering a resource, educators consider the impact on logistics, instruction, and outcomes. The ideal tools will be affordable, intuitive, adaptive/customizable, and transparent—no pun intended, but Transparent Language Online for Education was indeed designed with these factors in mind.
English teacher Dan Ryder is quoted in the EdSurge article describing his philosophy towards ed tech: “it’s got to be worth the time it takes”.
That philosophy could easily be expanded to encompass the factors above: technology needs to be worth the time and cost of implementation and adoption, both in terms of dollars and hours spent, but also in terms of outcomes and achievement.
So, how do our platforms meet the needs of language teachers and learners and deliver better outcomes?
Leverage pre-existing content: Transparent Language Online comes pre-loaded with materials in more than 100 languages, which can be assigned and used immediately. Content varies by language, but most include an alphabet course, topical vocabulary lists covering common topics from animals to food to weather terms, and a 10-unit Essentials course designed for first-time visitors to the target country/region.
Quickly create custom content: Instructors can also create and assign custom lessons to correspond to any curriculum. Lessons center around a text or set of vocabulary, and instructors can select from a suite of more than a dozen engaging learning activities including listening, speaking, reading, and typing games and tasks. Teachers can add images, annotate lessons, and even record audio all within the interface of Transparent Language Online—there’s no need to use multiple tools for each piece and marry it all together at the end.
Assign your content (or ours) with the click of a button: Assign a lesson and your students will see it right on their dashboard when they log in. Many schools and organizations assign lessons as pre-class homework, so students come to class prepared to use the words, phrases, or grammar rules presented in the lesson.
Stay organized with built-in class management tools: Teachers can organize and manage their classes, adding/removing students, making assignments, tracking student activity, and sending messages to remind students of due dates or disseminate important information.
Transparent Language Online is akin to a highly specialized LMS for language learning. We pride ourselves in easy implementation and integration into any school or program. From training webinars to technical questions, our Support team is also available to help when needed!
Adaptive learning algorithm: All content in Transparent Language Online is delivered via a spaced repetition algorithm that adapts to each individual learner. The system remembers the learner’s answers—words or phrases with which a learner struggles will be presented more often than those that the learner knows well. This automatically differentiates the learning process, allowing each student to take as much or as little time as they need to master the material.
Learned Vocab Refresh system: Speaking of tracking all learner activity, Transparent Language Online collects all words and phrases a student has learned in the “Learned” tab. When a student hasn’t seen a word or phrase in a while, the system will remind them to refresh it. Students can even opt in to push notifications or email reminders so they are never at risk of forgetting what they have learned.
Practice and Quiz activities: Transparent Language Online allows students to be proactive in addressing their own weaknesses and strengths. Some might dread speaking the language, while others only want to speak but struggle to listen in real time. That’s why we added Practice activities—rather than forcing a learner to go through an entire course, learners can select specific skill-based activities to practice with any content in the system. That learner who is struggling with pronunciation can select this week’s assigned vocabulary and practice it only via speaking activities in the Practice section! The same goes for Quiz activities, which also include a score at the end so both you and the learner know how they’re doing.
Reporting capabilities: Educators can run reports on a range of real-time user data, including lesson completion, assessment scores, and time spent learning. This data can help instructors pinpoint and respond to students struggling or those who might need more time. These reports can be downloaded as PDF or CSV files or printed directly from the program.
Create custom content aligned to local standards: Graduation and college acceptance requirements vary by state, so our system does not force any standards on users. Instead, educators are equipped with the tools to create and assign content that meets their needs and requirements.
Assign pre-loaded content aligned to recognized standards: All courses provided in Transparent Language Online are aligned to recognized scales (including ACTFL, ILR, and CEFR), so instructors can easily identify which content is level-appropriate for their students.
Instruct all four core skills: Transparent Language Online emphasizes listening, speaking, reading, and writing/typing—all skills tested by common language proficiency exams including the AP tests that can be used to earn college credit.
Support communicative proficiency: To support communicative language proficiency—the skills desired by future employers—Transparent Language Online also lends itself to blended learning. Many educators assign online lessons from our platform as pre-class homework, freeing up classroom time for communicative activities (like debates or skits) that use the language in context and build real-world language skills.
We support teachers and administrators to ensure that they get usage and results from their subscription. We do not limit languages (subscriptions currently include 100+). Schools can run usage reports (including use by teacher, by class, or by language) so they can evaluate their own return on investment. We also do a few things to ensure Transparent Language Online works for every school.
Mobile compatibility: Transparent Language Online can be accessed on almost all PCs, tablets, and smart phones, so districts do not have to worry about tech requirements or compatibility issues.
Web-based delivery: Students who do not have tech access outside of school can learn on a school or public library device, as Transparent Language Online is 100% web-based. There is no need to download or install anything on a particular device—as long as they have an internet connection the student can login and learn.