Spring 2017 Updates
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Tech Center News

Issue 3 - April 2017 - tech.center@hawaii.edu
Common Ground, Common Future 2017

From the Directors

Community building is an essential component of the Technology Innovation Center’s mission. It is through an engaged community of innovators that we will be able to successfully accomplish our primary purpose of efficiently blending technology into The Language Flagship Programs. In early March, representatives from thirteen multi-institutional Language Flagship programs gathered in San Francisco to participate in a unique workshop entitled Common Ground, Common Future. Its main purposes was to get a better understanding of current technology use, capabilities, and needs in those programs. At the same time, the workshop was intended to strengthen our emerging Flagship community of innovators by engaging in activities that helped identify blended learning needs and plan for a common future. In this issue, we will share highlights of that combined effort.

Continuing our presentation of Tech Center activities that are underway to advance the Guiding Principles we established during our first year, this issue will focus on the second principle: Supporting technology infusion initiatives that promote, create and/or improve personalized learning. Personalized learning is a key component of quality blended learning. Quality blended learning programs take advantage of the blended learning mode to increase opportunities to make learning suit learner needs. The Tech Center has started to address this important area through two main activities: (1) a professional language simulation, Green Ideas, Inc., which gives learners an opportunity to safely explore and use professional language discourse domains in areas of their interest, and (2) a pilot test of an adaptive system that recommends content based on learner interests and choices. This system, called PERLS (PERvasive Learning System), is in its early stages of development. The Tech Center is contributing its expertise to compile materials and test PERLS in the context of language learning through a collaboration with the Advance Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative.

We hope you will find this update useful to learn more about the Tech Center. We also hope it will motivate you to get involved by sending us your feedback and ideas.

Julio C Rodriguez and Madeline K. Spring, Tech Center Co-directors

Common Ground, Common Future

On March 9 and 10, 2017, directors, instructors, program coordinators and students from thirteen Language Flagships converged in San Francisco to learn from each other’s technology-enabled practices. Participants shared perspectives, feedback, and insights that have helped continue to shape a common vision and further refine a strategy for technology integration across The Language Flagship Programs.

On the first day, each Language Flagship program shared selected blended learning practices through lively 5-minute presentations. These were followed by poster sessions during which participants dug deeper to explore each other’s practices more comprehensively. As Day 1 came to a close, participants created and strengthened relationships by participating in an activity to identify commonalities.

The second day expanded upon the previous day with participants’ working first as members of an interinstitutional trio and then as representatives of their stakeholder group - student, instructor or director. Blended learning needs were identified, clarified, scrutinized and prioritized. As the workshop ended, participants reconvened as a single Language Flagship community to consolidate the work of the stakeholder groups and share insights.

Thank you to all those who contributed to make this workshop such a success. Many remarked with awe about the high level of engagement amongst the participants and comments of appreciation prevailed. The workshop exceeded our expectations and we truly appreciate the hard work done by everyone involved. Although we realize that everyone’s commitment and collegiality contributed to the workshop’s success, the Tech Center would like to formally recognize the valuable participation of Flagship students who, once again, demonstrated the importance of having a student voice in the work we do.

A special thank you to Flagship students:

Cyrus Lalkaka 
Oliver Fisher
Hunter College

Chase Riegel
Portland State University  

Josh Ortiz
San Francisco SU

Ryan Brown
University of Arizona

Edwin Wong
University of Hawai'i

Emily Reeg
University of Indiana Bloomington

Jade Arrowsmith
University of Minnesota

Brendan Ryan
University of Mississippi   

Tyler Avret
University of North Georgia 

Danielle Higginbotham
University of Oklahoma   

Emily Hadfield
University of Rhode Island  

Jared Long
Western Kentucky University 

Guiding Principle 2: Supporting technology infusion initiatives that promote, create and/or improve personalized learning

In our last issue, we introduced you to the three Guiding Principles that are helping to frame a strategy for Tech Center activities for 2017 and beyond. Focusing on the first strategy, we provided information about some of the activities we are implementing to continue fueling an ecology of innovation. In this issue, we highlight avenues through which we are advancing the second strategy - Supporting technology infusion initiatives that promote, create and/or improve personalized learning. We revisit the professional language simulation, Green Ideas, Inc., and introduce you to an adaptive learning app in the beginning stages of its development, PERLS.

Expanding discourse domains in a professional Chinese language simulation

The month of March brought pre-interview jitters for 22 Flagship students who applied for jobs at Green Ideas, Inc. Instructors and tutors in five Flagship institutions supported learners’ participation by reviewing best practices for writing résumés and cover letters and filling out job application forms in Chinese. Green Ideas, Inc. staff processed participants’ application materials and then scheduled individual job interviews with the applicants. The job interviews, conducted via videoconferencing software, presented candidates with a challenge similar to what they will face when applying for internships in China as part of their Capstone year: responding to job-related questions in Chinese from a panel of unfamiliar faces. Interviewers employed a criterion-based scoring system to rank applicants; those with the strongest scores were offered employee contracts in Green Ideas, Inc., while those whose performance did not fully meet expectations were offered internships. As contracts are signed, employees and interns are expected to undergo web-based HR training and then jump in to collaborate with other co-workers in projects that have been specially designed to create opportunities to use the professional language register they are interested in (e.g., legal Chinese). Flagship participants work with one another in multi-institutional teams.

Thank you  to the following institutions for participating in the current
Green Ideas, Inc., simulation

San Francisco State University

University of Hawai'i

University of Mississippi

University of Rhode Island

Western Kentucky University

PERLS - Personalizing the self-learning experience for adult language learners

In response to need for flexibility in time and place of adult learners, the Advanced Distributed Learning (ADL) initiative is supporting the development of PERLS (PERvasive Learning System), an adaptive learning app designed to provide learners with micro-learning opportunities on their mobile devices. The Tech Center is collaborating with ADL’s contractor, SRI International*, in the testing of PERLS in the context of language learning.

The Tech Center is involved in the identification and creation of suitable language learning materials to be recommended through PERLS and in a pilot test to identify desirability, usability, and initial usage trends.

*SRI International is an independent, nonprofit research center located in Menlo Park, California, whose mission is to work with clients in government and industry to take R&D from the laboratory to the marketplace. Funding for PERLS is from the Advanced Distributed Learning initiative of the U.S. Department of Defense.


Freed, M., Yarnall, L., Dinger, J., Gervasio, M., Overholtzer, A., Pérez-Sanagustin, M., Roschelle, J, and Spaulding, A. (2014) PERLS: An Approach to Pervasive Personal Assistance in Adult Learning, Paper presented at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC), Menlo Park, California

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