Two edtech projects that I like
Two of the uses of technology that have impressed me most over the last academic year have come from colleagues in the Spanish Department of my own institution: UAB Idiomes (the language service of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). UAB Idiomes provides language services on the main university campus in Bellaterra (about 20kms from the centre of Barcelona), but it also has a city-based language centre near to the SagFam which offers tailor-made Spanish courses to groups and individual students from all over the world. Accommodation and cultural visits also form part of most packages.
Sometimes it is difficult to reconcile the language learning and cultural/vacational components of this type of study-break, and attempts to do so often boil down to “optional” guided bores in the target language or false folklore laid on specially for tourists. The two projects outlined below are examples of imaginative and engaging ways to bridge the language course – holiday gap. Both involve students getting out into the city, doing some some kind of research, then bringing their experiences and impressions back into the classroom through task-based activity.
La Dama de Vallcarca
La Dama de Vallcarca (The Lady from Vallcarca) is a collaborative detective story set in Barcelona. It was conceived of by Spanish teacher Javier Sánchez Bolado and involved the participation of E/LE (Spanish as a Foreign Language) students at levels B1.2-B2.1. The chapters which make up the story take place in bars, restaurants and tourist sights previously researched by the students. Icons are used to geo-position the chapters on a Google Map, giving a bird’s eye view of the action as it moves from location to location around the city. An audio version is also available on a separate Voxopop page.
In March, the project attracted the interest of Barcelona’s Contemporary Culture Centre (CCCB) and was featured on their Education website. After the success of the Dama de Vallcarca project, Javier is now planning a Google-mapped version of Carlos Ruiz Zafón‘s bestselling novel The Shadow of the Wind, also set in and around Barcelona.
E/LE radio UAB
E/LE radio UAB, the Spanish Department’s on-line radio station, is an initiative of teachers Javier Sánchez Bolado, Marta Galinsoga and Francesc Navarro. It broadcasts a live programme called Las Mañanas del Viernes from the UAB’s Casa Convalescència every Friday from 11.00 to 11.30. Programmes may include news, interviews and film reviews, and involve the participation of students at all levels of production. The programme is hosted live on a web 2.0 radio site called 1000mikes, which enables both live broadcasting and the saving of recorded versions in its sound archive (listen to an example here).
That’s about all I think! To finish up, I’d just like to thank my colleagues at UAB Idiomes Barcelona for these highly-original and engaging ideas! Well done! Keep them coming!