Extempore at the University of Wisconsin’s Collaborative Language Program Workshop

The Collaborative Language Program

In May, Extempore was invited to present at a workshop organized by the Collaborative Language Program at the University of Wisconsin System.

The Collaborative Language Program (CLP) is a cutting edge way for UW System to staff and support language programs at schools that would otherwise not be able to maintain them. Through an active use of technology and blended-learning methodologies, UWS instructors teach less commonly taught languages across the network. Currently, the system offers classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hmong, Japanese, and Russian.

The CLP uses a web-based course management system to provide structure and tools such as blogs, wikis, voice technology and webcams for further developing language proficiency. Courses are taught 3-4 days per week in a traditional classroom setting that has been modified for interactive two-way videoconferencing (ITV). Through the use of this technology, UW Faculty work closely with students locally and on receiving campuses. Native speaking facilitators aid students at receive sites.

CLP courses average over 70% retention from semester to semester, which is higher than the national average for these languages. Additionally, when comparing outcomes between students who are in the same school as the instructor, with students who are remote, their scores as as good, or better.

Assessment-Focus on Proficiency: When You’re There & Even When You’re Not…

The workshop, held on May 30th at the UW Madison Campus, consisted of two well-attended sessions. The first was led by Kate Grovergrys, Spanish Instructor at Madison College. Titled Flow Like a River: Reimagining Online Assessment, it covered best practices, common myths, useful tools and real-life scenarios where attendees had to think through different types of assessments in an online setting.

Particularly interesting and eye-opening was Dr. Grovergrys’ debunking of some common myths about online teaching that we, at Extempore, often hear:

  • Studies show that students are not more likely to cheat in online courses than face to face.
  • Outcome of online classes are often better than F2F, and retention rates are the same, or higher, as traditional courses.
  • Authentic Assessments ARE possible in an online setting: plenty of examples were provided, for reading, writing, listening and, naturally, for speaking, where Extempore provides the market-leading solution for authentic, spontaneous assessment.

Near the end, Dr. Grovergrys had the audience brainstorm ideas for authentic online assessments using Menti. This led to a great exchange among the teachers in the room, which represented over 7 different languages. Many of these ideas, particularly those relating to speaking and listening were perfectly applicable to Extempore, both online and in the classroom.

Extempore’s workshop was hands-on and covered all the basics of the Extempore app, particularly how to use it in order to obtain assessable, spontaneous speech in an asynchronous settings, which is a persistent need in programs like the CLP.

During the workshop, attendees where provided with mock Extempore accounts. This allowed them to create assessments and think out of the box without adding “noise” to their real Extempore accounts, which around half of the attendees already use in their classes.

After creating assessments within Extempore, attendees shared class links and completed each other's assignment, either on their phones or on their laptops. Then, as a group, we reviewed some of the submissions and graded them.

This process gave attendees a 360 degree view of the tool and provided for great discussion around activity ideas and best practices. About half of the attendees where existing users of Extempore, while the other half had never used the tool. All benefited from the experience, including the Extempore staff present, who never ceases to learn from the imaginative ways in which instructors use the platform.

If you would like to schedule an Extempore workshop, at no cost other than travel, please contact sales at sales@extemporeapp.com.

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