Case Study: Summit Language Learning Labs

Services:  Software development

Overview

Our software solutions development team worked with communa Technologies (Draper, UT) to create a LAN-base education application to be used in higher education facilities, a focus market of communa.  The purpose of the solution is to provide a highly collaborative classroom environment specifically designed for use in language training labs.  communa has found that there is a strong visual element involved in the effective learning of a language.  Because of this critical visual element the solution was designed with an emphasis on video as well as audio.

Background

communacolorcommuna Technologies provides A/V consulting and design services, with Higher Education being a focus market.  In their work with various colleges and universities they discovered that many institutions are not utilizing technologies that promote collaborative learning, and where these technologies are being used the hardware and software are generally inadequate.  communa Technologies engaged our development team to create a hardware/software solution that can be provided as a COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) product targeting language learning labs in higher education institutions.  The resulting product is called “Summit.”

Additional Details

Summit is a complete hardware/software solution and is designed to be used in a classroom environment.   The system is comprised of the following major components:

  • Server computer.  The server computer requires Windows Server 2005 or above.  It can be provided by the institution or can be included in the a package provided by the vendor.  It can also be run as a virtual machine.
  • Network storage.  The storage is used to hold audio and video files, and must be available to both the server module and all workstation modules.  It can be located on the server computer if desired by the institution.
  • Server software module.  This module performs authentication services and acts as a “gatekeeper” for inter-workstation collaboration services.  It runs as a service on a Windows-based server computer.
  • Workstation hardware.  Each workstation includes a computer, flat-panel monitor (touch or non-touch), keyboard, mouse, IP network camera, and headset (headphones and microphone).  Due to requirements of the system, an established baseline level of performance must be maintained, and the workstation is generally provided a part of the package offered by the vendor.
  • Workstation software module.  This software includes the user interface and all required codecs for recording and playback of audio and video.

The Workstation module allows users to view, record, and play back their own voice and video.  Summit_LiveSourcesIt also allows them to view, record, and play back their own voice and video as well as they voice and video of other class participants.  Multiple student’s camera/microphone can be viewed simultaneously, and they can be linked together for recording and playback.  This allows students to work individually, with a partner, as part of a group, or together with the whole class.

Teachers are able to send their audio/video (or any other user’s audio/video) to selected students, or to all students in the class.

Summit_LiveWithRecordedUsers are able to play recorded content (either their own recordings or pre-recorded content).  They can also link their own live audio/video to the recorded audio/video to create a recording where the new recorded file is synchronized with the pre-recorded file.  When the new recording is played back, the pre-recorded file re-links and is also played back.

Students are able to submit completed recordings to their instructor for evaluation.  The teacher can provide feedback in any combination of text, audio, or video.  When completed, the evaluation is returned to the student to review.

The current shipping version of the solution is 1.9.  Versions of Summit have been deployed in many institutions nationwide.

Product Availability

Summit is offered as a COTS solution, and is currently available from communa Technologies (marketed under the product name of “CAIT – communa Advanced Interpreter Training”), or from General Communications, Inc.

For more information regarding the Summit solution, or communications software development, please contact us.