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Beyond the cottage industry? In-house hypermedia production for university language learning

By Tony Stenton


The arrival of affordable, high-quality digital video in Language Centres, via MPEG compression, coincides with a growing sophistication in the quality of in-house production for language learning in the university sector. Authoring tools, as Rapido, has shown, are simpler, more powerful and more flexible. The use of templates is becoming standardised. The design skills of higher education software developers are advancing steadily. Indeed, some university produced software compares favourably with that of the large multimedia publishing houses. The recognition and status of such production, however, and its integration with more traditional learning activities, still present complex problems which Language Centres are struggling to resolve. The image of a cottage industry may be wearing off but what lies beyond needs to be defined.\ud University Language Centres have finally arrived at a technological and pedagogical turning point. The path to improved efficiency, credibility and an intelligent use of enabling technologies lies through an increased attention to the learning environment: the documents, films and activities prepared and made available to students for language learning. It is not a question of more teaching hours or less teaching hours but simply a change of emphasis, working upstream rather than downstream. This paper describes a possible model for in-house production through the use and integration of video-based hypertexts generated with the new PC version of Smart Alex. 2 It outlines the problems of hypermedia development in the context of French universities and draws on the conclusions of the recent RAPIDO report in defence of an innovative approach to language learn ng

Year: 2001
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