The Covid-19 lockdown has obviously impacted and affected every element of higher education in recent months. The big question for language teachers has been: how to continue to deliver language teaching and associated assessments without the access to language lab? Many universities in the UK have been quick to adopt online technological solutions to respond to these challenges. This blog post explores how Sanako Connect has minimised disruption for staff and students at the University of Leeds’ Centre for Translation Studies (CTS).
The University of Leeds enjoys an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research and is part of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive universities. It is one of the largest universities in the UK with over 38,000 students including over 9,000 international students. The CTS is a leading international centre for translation and interpreting studies – it offers a range of vocationally-oriented MAs and Postgraduate Diplomas in a variety of European and non-European language combinations.
CTS offers state-of-the-art facilities for private study and teaching activities on campus (featuring the Sanako Study 1200 system), but the UK-wide lockdown required an online solution that could enable teaching to continue unaffected. Sanako Connect was selected – it is Sanako’s next generation product that delivers the most used language lab features in an online environment. According to Lihong Pan, Programme Manager of MA Interpreting, Sanako Connect has been
“one of the most effective solutions adopted for teaching and assessment by the MA Conference Interpreting and Translation Studies, MA Business and Public Service Interpreting and Translation Studies programmes.”
Sanako Connect provides an entirely online, blended learning environment that’s easy for students and teachers to use. Course tutors begin by creating a virtual online class – this mirrors how they would work in a conventional interpreting lab. To access the class, a link is emailed to each student assigned to that module, thereby meeting all current GDPR regulations. When the student clicks the link, the prepared language learning session is automatically opened onto their device and an icon for each student (including their name) appears on the tutor’s screen. When all students are ready, the tutor is able to start the class/assessment. Ms Pan emphasised the system’s flexibility, commenting that:
“The tutors can choose whether the class is for consecutive or simultaneous interpreting, including audio or video exercises.”
Lihong Pan noted how the online experience of Sanako Connect closely mirrored that of a real-life teaching environment:
“With Sanako Connect, the tutors are able to do pretty much everything that can be done with a conventional interpreting lab. They can monitor what each student is doing, talk to all the students or an individual student, and even allow everyone to discuss the exercise together, beforehand and afterwards.”
Importantly for Lihong Pan and her colleagues at the CTS, “tutors are able to monitor individual students whilst they are working through the interpreting modules online”. Once the work is completed, the students’ recordings are submitted to their tutor. Pan highlighted that
“in simultaneous exercises the recordings can be done in dual-track, allowing the student and original speech to be recorded on separate channels, as they are in the interpreting suites.”
Lihong Pan also paid tribute to the Sanako team for their help and support:
“David Binns from Sanako UK has been very professional and helpful in guiding us through the application of Sanako Connect and answering the questions raised by the tutors and students. He has also closely coordinated with the Sanako team to enhance some product settings to meet the specific needs of the University of Leeds’ Centre for Translation Studies.”