Planning and Selecting
a Digital Language Lab
Jian Wu, Associate Director
Jenise Rowekamp, Director
CLA Language Center
University of Minnesota
Pre-Planning Questions
 Why
digital?
 What does it mean to be digital?
 Is there a choice?
 Budget - Do you have the money???
Who are the players?
 Language
lab vendors
 Instructors
 Technical
staff
 Administrators
 School purchasing office (bidding)
Steps, Stages & Factors to
Consider
 Needs Assessment
 Technical
Planning
 Vendor Selection Process
 Installation Plan
 Training & Support
Needs Assessment
 Types
of lab: classroom vs. open lab, or
both
 Types of traditional instructional activities:
Drills, guided discussion, pairing,
recording student voice, playing
audio/video source, etc.
 Additional instructional activities: Internet
browsing, chatting and messaging, writing
and spell-checking in different languages,
etc.
Two Important Questions

What old audio lab functions do we want to
keep?




Playing audio source to student stations
Monitoring and recording student speech
Setting up pairs or groups, randomly or manually
What new features do we want to have?






Broadcast video to all student screens
Monitoring student screens
Automatic collection of student files
Burning collected files onto CDs
Internet capability
Language capability
Technical Planning Components of a Digital Lab

Computers
 Language lab software


All-in-one or modularized systems
Language lab hardware & electronics

Audio/video control system, and computer
monitoring system

Other software
 Furniture



Raceway and power outlet
Layout
ADA compliant
Technical Planning - More
Considerations
 Is
there enough power in the designated
location?
 Who is going to provide the Internet
access and set up the local area
network (LAN)?
 What kinds of AV equipment are
needed, e.g., DVD player, VCR,
document camera, data projector?
Vendor/Product Selection
Process

Finding the vendors/products


Getting more information about the
vendors/products


Conferences, websites, word of mouth
Campus presentation, brochure, request for
proposals (RFPs, bids)
Evaluating and selecting the vendor/product

Selection committee consisting of instructors,
technical staff and administrators
(Continued)
 Selection





criteria
Audio lab hardware/software
Furniture and computers
Total cost
Terms of conditions for installation, training,
warranty and support service
Others (see sheet)
 Point
value and narrative comments
(Continued)
 Important





questions to ask
Are features and functions integrated or
modularized?
Is a feature presented really what we want?
Does a certain feature require a third-party
product, such as Microsoft NT server and
license?
What are the specifications of the cabling
system and physical devices?
Are there good training and user manuals?
(Continued)
 Some



advice
Read the proposal carefully; do not take
things for granted
Get clarification for unclear points from
vendors as much as you can, through emails
or phones.
Ask direct and straight-forward questions
 Decision


made!!!
Relieved? Yes!
Happy? Yes! …at least for now.
Installation Plan - Sample
Timeline









Week 1, Vendor site inspection
Week 2, Old furniture removals
Week 3-5, Power installation
Week 6, Furniture installation
Week 7, PC and LAN installation
Week 8, Language Lab electronics & cable
installation
Week 8, Language Lab electronics & cable
installation
Week 9 & 10, Testing
Week 11 & 12, Training & orientation
Training & Support
 Training


Vendor-provided training
Local (Language Center) training
 Support


issues
issues
Vendor-provided support
Local (Language Center) support
DiLL - Our New Digital
Language Lab
 A virtual

Http://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/lc/asclab/VRlab.mov
 Our

tour
DiLL guides
Http://languagecenter.cla.umn.edu/lc/asclab/DiLLGuide.pdf
Contact Information
 Jian
Wu, [email protected]
 Jenise Rowekamp, [email protected]
 http://LanguageCenter.cla.umn.edu/
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The Planning of a Digital Language Lab