Slides for ALTc presentation
Slides for ALTc presentation
One of the biggest take-overs in eLearning has taken place recently with very little publicity. Rosetta Stone has bought Tell Me More for $28 million. Steve Swad (President and CEO of Rosetta Stone) is quoted in a recent Wall Street Journal article on the 11th December, “Tell Me More is an exceptional fit for Rosetta Stone,” http://online.wsj.com/article/HUG1749069.html He also states that “This acquisition will immediately strengthen our growing Enterprise & Education business with a complementary suite of products and services that enhances our offering around the world. We will also be significantly building up our European operations and acquiring an established operation in China, where we are not present today. In addition,” Swad continued, “we are going to introduce Tell Me More’s products into some of our Consumer markets, giving our customers even greater choice.”
Rosetta Stone have obviously made it a strategic decision to enter the HE market not just in Britain but at a Global level. They can see that Tell Me More’s product is different and in some respects better than their own product. Tell Me More software is much more compatible with the future of eLearning where learning is moving to more mobile learning devices, such as phones and tablets. Also the market is likely to grow and expand in the future. In Europe the increased funding for the Erasmus + project will further boost this market;
The consequences for UK higher education will be dramatic. Previously Tell Me More were the main providers to UK universities for online language tuition. In the past, most Universities have chosen Tell Me More because it went up to much higher levels of language tuition compared to Rosetta. Now Rosetta will be in a very strong, if not a monopolistic position within HE provision. Their basic product is great for students who are beginners and now with Tell Me More they will be able to offer the higher levels that the Language departments have also wanted.
Just one other thought ….here’s a song that’s you’ll never see in a Rosetta Stone ad:
I’m starting to think about evaluating Rosetta Stone next term. Rosetta Stone Manager will provide us with the quantifiable data on how many people have been using Rosetta since we installed it in Blackboard in September. However, my aim is also to investigate how students and staff are using Rosetta and to do this I need to speak to the users and do some recorded interviews. I’ve identified that I have four different groups of users within the university:
… and I think the interview questions will need to reflect the different interests of these groups. Katie Tiller who works at Rosetta sent me some questions which I’ve include below but I thought I’d start with the general topic areas first and then think of the specific questions afterwards…..the topic areas I’m starting with include:
These questions are just a stating point I will come back to them and revise them in the new year:
What course are you studying/teaching at Regent’s?
What course are you teaching at Regent’s?
Have you used Rosetta Stone or any other online language pack before?
Using Rosetta Stone software
Which languages are you learning with Rosetta Stone and why?
What level have you achieved so far in Rosetta Stone?
How often do you access the program?
Is it easy to navigate through the course?
What time(s) of the day/week do you use the program?
What do you like about learning in Rosetta Stone?
What do you NOT like about learning in Rosetta Stone?
How often do you access the program?
What time(s) of the day/week do you use the program?
Have you used Rosetta Stones app? If so, ….
Did you enjoy using Rosetta Stone?
Was it difficult to find the time to use Rosetta Stone?
Application of Rosetta Stone
Has using Rosetta Stone helped you with your in class language course?
Give an example of a time you have used what you have learned with the program?
How will your new language skills help you in the future?
What tips can you provide to your peers on how they can also take advantage of this opportunity?
If you had the opportunity would you recommend Rosetta Stone to a friend or colleague?
Last year I was given the responsibility of organising the tendering process to acquire a University wide license for a on-line language pack for all staff and students.
The decision to buy a language pack was directly related to the aims of the University’s Development Plan 2011-2020. “During the decade, the University has further strengthened its language instruction and has promoted study abroad. RUL continues to teach language and culture associated with nine modern languages and also operates a highly rated English language school”. Also, the aim is that by 2020 over 50% of the student population study for at least a semester in a country that is neither the UK nor their home country, as part of acquiring their degree. Students will have access to the online language pack whilst they are abroad on their SPA.
The Self-access Language Pack would be accessible to all students and staff (up to 4000), on and off campus and fully integrated into Regent’s Blackboard Virtual Learning Environment. Also it would provide English Language support to the whole College as well as an opportunity for everyone to learn a wider variety of languages, starting at an introductory level and increasing to at least an intermediate level (defined as level B1 by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages – CEFR).
I drew up a check list of essential and desired requirements of the language pack (see previous blog post https://totallyrewired.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/evaluating-rosetta-stone-and-tell-me-more/ ) and then looked at the different alternatives available within the budget. I invited three companies; Rosetta Stone, Tell Me More and EuroTalk to give demonstrations of their products. After a extended evaluation of all three products the decision was made to buy Rosetta Stone.
Regent’s University London will be the first be the first University to have a full site license (fully integrated into Blackboard) for all its staff and students.
Given the current economic pressures demonstrating how we make a difference as teachers, lecturers or Learning technologists is even more important. Throughout Higher education at the moment there is a relentless drive to improve results and raise achievement. Coupled with this is (in the UK) is the rise in tuition fees that have raised expectations about what learners can expect from their learning experience. If we believe that we make a difference we need to be able demonstrate how we do it by effective evaluation of our teaching methods.
In a wider context, Chelimsky (1997) suggests three possible purposes for evaluation. Firstly to check, or audit – to assure those who funded the project that the project has done, produced and achieved what it planned to do and done these things to an appropriate standard and in an appropriate way. (Summative evaluation). At the end of the academic year I will provide the senior managers at RUL quantitative data on Rosetta Stone’s usage. . Second, to improve the project or venture. ‘Evaluation can be a form of consultancy and, as such, do a lot for enhancing the thinking and work of those being evaluated’ (Knight, 2003). In other words the evaluator is a respected outsider or critical friend. (This is formative evaluation). In terms of the Rosetta Stone package I have no direct control over but there are a number of things that can be changed and improved upon, such as Rosetta Stone’s integration with Blackboard or staff training in its use to support classroom teaching. Thirdly to know or understand – what is working and what isn’t, how, and above all why, in order to improve the activity being evaluated. The last of these points is concerned with not just how a project is not working but to explore the reasons why it is not working. Here it would be interesting to explore the learning theories that underpin Rosetta’s notion of ‘Dynamic immersion’.
Rob Phillips et al, in their recent book Evaluating e-Learning (2011) start their discussion of how best to evaluate a e-learning project by outlining their Learning Environment, Learning processes and Learning Outcomes (LEPO) Framework. First, the learning environment provides the context in which the learner works. Therefore it encompasses both the physical and ‘virtual’ learning space of the learning.
Secondly, the Learning Processes, which can mean both the participation in learning activities (completing tasks, in groups or individually, interaction with the learning environment) and the internal (cognitive) learning process such as Problem solving, reflection etc. In the guide ‘Getting started with Rosetta Stone Manager’ the basic learning method of Rosetta Stone is described as ‘Dynamic Immersion’. “Rosetta Stone uses ‘Dynamic Immersion’ a method that simulates a real life emersion experience and relies on active participation. All lessons are taught on the target language ….Tasks and activities engage the learners in the learning process. Throughout the programme new information is presented systematically so that words or grammatical forms are easily identified and understood”.
Thirdly, the learning outcomes which are the things learners can actually do as a result of their engagement in a course of study. In terms of language acquisition, how effective is Rosetta Stone in supporting the face to face teaching and acquiring new language skills?
Evaluating the users experience.
To fully evaluate the learners experience of using Rosetta Stone I intend to use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods.
As the System Administrator of Rosetta Stone here at RUL I will have access to the ‘Rosetta Stone Manager’. This is the ‘behind the scene’ recording of who is using it and who and how long they are using it for to generate ‘usage reports’. The usage reports displays the following information of learners by selective groups or classes; hours spent on Rosetta Stone, overall score for activities completed, curriculum and language levels, overall progress for through the displayed curriculum, time spent on the curriculum or the activity. This is the type of information that is relatively easy to quantify and is easy to present in a form that will make sense to the senior managers who want to see have often the software is being used by the students.
However, there are also limitations with this type of evaluation. It does not tell us what the learning experience is like for the learners. Are they enjoying the learning process? To what extent is it supporting their classroom activities? Is the learning experience a dynamic process that builds motivation and increases the desire to learn another language? How much language can be learnt and to what level?
Rosetta Stone will be used in the university to support language teaching from an introductory level to intermediate and advanced levels. There are 9 foreign languages taught, plus English as a second language. I think it will be interesting to contrast its usage, first between staff and students and secondly between students studying in a language class and those using Rosetta but who are not taking formal classes in language tuition.
1. Evaluating staff’s experience of using Rosetta Stone
Evaluation of Rosetta Stone usage. Interviews with Language teaching staff and non-Language teaching staff.
2. Evaluating students experience of using Rosetta Stone
Processing the results of this research is a time consuming process but the analysis will be helped with the use of ‘Nvivo’ which I have used on previous research projects.
Getting started with Rosetta Stone Manager. Available at: http://www.lerum.se/Documents/F%C3%B6rvaltningssidorna/Utbildning%20och%20barnomsorg/Verktyg%20i%20skolan/manager_administrators_guide.pdf?epslanguage=sv (last accessed July 2013)
Chelimsky, E. (1997) Thoughts for a new evaluation society, Evaluation, 3(1), 97-118.
Knight, P. & Yorke, M. (2003) Assessment, learning and employability. London: The society for research into Higher education and Open University Press.
Phillips, R., McNaught, C., Kennedy, G. (2012) Evaluating e-Learning: guiding research and practice. Abingdon: Routledge.
Today myself and Bryony Bramer did a short demonstration to staff on the new Rosetta Stone integration into Blackboard, here at Regent’s University (London).
Here is the ‘Checklist’ of things we demonstrated:
2. Set up microphone. Quick demo to show how to set up the Microphone – very easy to do:)
3. Demo-ed 3 lesson activities: Pronunciation, Vocabulary and Grammar……. Full list also includes, Listening and Reading, Speaking, Writing, Listening. This is where the demo starts to get interesting as we are actually showing the learning process.
4. Next we showed some other features on Rosetta’s dashboard;
Show speech analysis tool:
Demo-ed ‘Milestone’ (basically the tests at the end of each level).
Show ‘All activities for Unit 1’ (at the bottom of the page).
5. Show the following buttons:
This week I invited two companies to come into the college to give demonstrations of their products. On Wednesday morning ‘Tell Me More’ gave their demo and this was followed by ‘Rosetto Stone’ on Friday. I’m not a linguist so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I found it difficult to learn a language at school so the prospect of an online self study programme didn’t seem that appealling…. to be honest.
Anyway the process started a few months ago when I sat down with the Head of Languages, Amparo and we discussed what we actually wanted from a languages self study pack. We came up with a list and then I visited other interested individuals in the College. I contacted the VLE manager, the project manager in IT, deputy head of the English Language School, head of Learning Reources and a representative from the library team. They all made contributions to what we required and then we ordered them into what is ‘essential’ and what is ‘desireable’. As a result we produced a chech list that I emailed to the two companies before they did the demo:
I was quite surprised by the demonstrations. I wasn’t expecting great differences between the two products but they both had very different approaches to language learning. So the evaluation is not just about the technical differences of the two products. Evaluating the technical differences is a relatively easy thing to do. . So for example, we can easily assess how many languages are provided or to what level they can provide support. What was clear to me was that these two products fit the needs of different users within the college. Tell Me More was much more closely alligned to the rigors of learning languages in a academic environment. It is much easier to identify parts of its progamme that match what the students are doing on their course. Whereas, Rosetta Stone is a much more emersive way of learning a language where grammer and vocabulary are picked up unconciously as the learner passes through the learning activities. I could see that the former might be more suited to the higher level language courses whilst the later would be more applicable to rest of the College’s non-language provision.
I was also really pleased with the turnout for both sessions. We had over 20 members of staff who came to both sessions. Whilst we had a few technical specialists the majority of the audience was made up of language lecturers. They all gave feedback on the two products and I look forward to reading their comments.
Anyway, this is just the first stage of evaluating what is ‘out there’ for this type of product. My intention is that we look at a couple more other products before we make a decision. We are possibly going to have a look at ‘Eurotalk’ in September and maybe a couple of others at the same time and make a final decision in October. It would be great to have the language packs fully installed and ready to go for Jan 2013!
….for more information on this project see my second blog post: