SLB and Technology

At SLB we believe that whatever we can do to improve our English and other language classes, translation or proofreading services, we’ll do it. If that means using technology, however, we consider which tools we use very carefully in order to ensure a clear benefit for both our clients and coop members.

We are fans of “edtech”, but also naturally suspicious of it. We think that language-learning apps are fun, but do not believe that they can replace a genuine teacher-student interaction. We worry about the role of big business in edtech and its attempts to infiltrate public education systems in the name of profit. However, we also know that language-learning is still far too complex and mysterious a process to be reduced to a few algorithms.

Some of the ways we do feel that technology can greatly benefit our work are explained below.

Tablets for Teachers
One-to-one or small group classes can be transformed by the presence of a tablet – an all-in-one whiteboard, audio and video player, voice recorder and much more. Our members have access to such devices if and when they need them, and encourage their students to bring their own tablets or smartphones for collaborative activities.
Learning Management System (LMS): Edmodo
Most schools and universities now employ an LMS such as Moodle to deliver course content, administer assessments and facilitate interaction between students and staff. At SLB we use the Edmodo platform for its user-friendliness, simplicity and effectiveness. Students can review videos and documents from previous classes, take part in discussions and polls, do assignments and quizzes, and receive grades. In this way, they have a connection with their teacher and classmates outside of class time. Best of all, Edmodo is absolutely free, so the only cost added to a course using Edmodo is for the time of the teacher managing the system.
Video Conferencing (Skype) Classes
Time is a precious commodity, and it’s not always possible to arrange a face-to-face session when you want to. Skype, and similar applications like Google Hangouts and Facetime, allow teachers and students to get together digitally when they can’t do so physically. And with some innovative plugins, teachers and students can also share a whiteboard space, collaborate on documents, watch videos together – in fact, do most of the things you can do in a normal classroom space.
SLB Library and e-publishing
Our members enjoy access to a digital library of teaching resources compiled over years of classes. Whether a teacher is looking for a single worksheet on a specific vocabulary set, or needs a whole course on a specific area of English, their first stop will be our ever-expanding resource library.
We believe that our teachers produce some of the best, most dynamic material around, so our long-term plan is to publish and market their best work in the form of ebooks and printable activity packs. If you have such an idea and want to get it started, please get in touch right away.
Translation Databases
All our members will have access to shared databases compiled from translation “memories”, or records of previous translations done by the cooperative. These, when used with appropriate software, can significantly reduce the work required on complicated translations – another example of the fact that working cooperatively makes life easier!