Deaf education majors get interactive with new learning equipment
By Laura Smith
After 16 years, the Flagler College language lab has received a much needed update.
The college’s new American Sign Language equipment was installed last fall and is the second of its kind in the United States, the first being in Indiana.
The software allows deaf education students the ability to practice sign language using a Web camera to talk with other members of their class and observe what they may be doing right or wrong.
“Before, deaf education majors could only watch videos in the lab,” said Aggie Johnson, Flagler’s language lab coordinator. “There was no interaction. Now they can talk to each other because of the Web cam.”
Students can also record assignments and view instructional videos that will increase their skill level.
The new software alone cost $1,000 per station. The lab currently has 13 stations with the ASL software.
Margaret Finnegan, coordinator of Deaf Education at Flagler College, was able to purchase the equipment with a grant that the department received.
Currently, Finnegan is researching ways for ASL students to partner with other schools using the new equipment.
The ability to work with the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and to observe how a teacher uses sign language in class are just a few possibilities with the new system.
The lab also has new Spanish software that has recently been accepted as the standard for teaching foreign language in the state of Florida.
The program allows students to match their voice levels to a voice prompt and gives directions to help the student speak correctly, such as, speak faster.
The program also offers tutorials that show diagrams of how to place the tongue and use breath control.
“It allows the students to learn the rhythm of the language,” Johnson said.
Spanish students have also utilized the lab’s new Web cameras.
“Some students are very scared doing oral presentations in the classroom,” said Andrea Huls, a Spanish major and language lab tutor. “Now they just record themselves and turn in orals to the teacher.”
Students can record as many times as they need to which allows them to turn in their best work.