- Email from client to Greg Welch
- December, 2000
- Re: Proposed Software Project
Here's an idea for a class project that might be doable in one semester if you
are still shopping for things to do. It has a nice range of composition
I'm an A&S staff computing consultant and am presently consulting on a project
at the Foreign Language Resource Center (FLRC) at Dey Hall (A&S/ROML) that is
involved with a web-based, instructional technology application. It is called
"Oral Text Learning" and is a system developed by the Director (Dr. Jim
Noblitt) which involves learning language by listening to foreign language
popular music (mostly straight audio, but some streaming music videos as well)
from course web pages using a RealAudio server accompanied by the native and
english translation texts. It is a technique that combines access to
real-world examples of the syntax, dialect, intonation, etc. of the languages
with a presentation method that gets (and holds) the interest of most students.
While we have the presentation-end down pretty well, what we need is help with
some production-end tools. The popularity of the technology has presented some
production burdens that need to be better distributed if the system is to be
successful in the long-run. While we have staff available to load the web
pages with the applicable materials, getting the materials represents something
of a problem.
The Professors and Instructors need to provide the production staff with the
audio/video, text and graphics in some form that the production people can put
up the finished product with. To date, this usually comes as a music CD or
tape with the track wanted annotated, a disk with the text in some file form
and, perhaps a graphic of the artist or group included too. The form is not
very consistent and stuff gets lost which is a problem. As you might imagine,
it can be a big problem when a production person is given the text to enter in
a language that they are not familiar with.
All of this makes the process very lengthy and arduous at best. What I am
hoping to do is to push lots of this work back to the originators by providing
them with authoring tools that they can do much of this themselves with. This
will involve the packaging of a few standard technologies into a single
application that is designed strictly for this purpose, i.e. no-frills, simple,
drop-dead easy to learn and use. The concept WILL NOT WORK in my experience of
it is not drop-dead-easy for the below-average computer-phile to learn and use.
If it can be made fun to use, then all the better.
The application would take the user through the steps to create/gather the
digital materials needed to put a presentation together. Here is what I am
looking for it to do:
- Do you have an audio CD that you would like to provide a track from? All
of the CCI machines are capable of digital audio extraction from their CD-ROM
drives. If yes, the user is prompted to insert the audio cd. Okay. It is
checked and if present, a list of tracks is displayed. Choose a track. Listen
to it. Extract the track to a wave file and give it a name. The track is
saved to a default network location where the production people will look for
- Do you want to include the language text? Yes. Okay, here is the template
for the native language and English texts. Please enter them side-by-side.
Oops! Made a goof? Want to start over? Want some help? Sorry, you can't do
that! The columns must be kept this size. Ready to save it now? Wanna give
it a name? Looks good. I like it! Please wait. I'm dumping your native
language text into another template for displaying just the native language
without the English translation. Please wait, I'm saving your work for you.
- Wanna send a graphic to go with this stuff if you have it already?
- Wanna send some instructor's lesson notes to be accessible from the web
lesson? Okay, let's do it!
- All Done? Okay, but you'll need to complete this order form which will have
some stuff we need to know - your authorization code, due date, etc. A copy is
going to be packaged with your other stuff being sent to the production
directory. Oh, we'll also send this order page to the production staff e-mail
box and you'll get a copy for your records in yours.
- Oops! Don't wanna do any of the above but need to take down an existing
page or put a hold on or make changes to an open production order? Okay. We
can do that.
I think that you can see much of what we are going to need. We don't have
anything like this now and it won't be a show stopper if we don't find
something. Please let me know if you have any questions or if this project
proves to be of interest to you students.