I was fortunate to attend this year’s conference for the New England Regional Association for Language Learning Technology at Mount Holyoke College. Now that’s a mouthful. As a first-time attendee of the conference, I have to admit that I was quite impressed, especially by the intimate nature of the conference. Most people appeared to know each other and were familiar with each other’s work. There were members (faculty, language resource center directors, and instructional technology staff) from a wide variety of institutions, including from Ivy League schools, large state schools, and community colleges. And, as a result, the conference sessions included a range of topics, from instructional spaces to the design of virtual tours.
As they relate to the use of technology, academic conferences are a tremendous resource for gathering information, especially from people who have already experimented with particular tools. One NERALLT member described her use of voki.com to enable students to create short oral presentations. Voki is a web-based tool that allows students and instructors to create avatars, customize their appearances, add voice, and share with others. It’s an easy-to-use tool that is particularly beneficial for working on pronunciation and speaking skills. It features text-to-audio and audio recording, which offer students means to rehearse language skills in a less intimidating environment. Consider this example, which took less than one minute to create.