TOOLS – Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL)
ICSRI is one of a consortium of eight partners in the international TOOLS project (see languages.dk/tools) which is currently developing an online multimedia authoring system to support Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL). The unique feature of this free online tool is the way it treats embedded texts; at the touch of a button all words are automatically linked to a bespoke dictionary interface Multidict, which places online dictionaries in over 100 languages at the learner's disposal, thereby enabling them to interrogate texts at their own pace and according to their own learning requirements.
The software is also being optimised so that the materials can be both used and authored on mobile devices e.g. iPads, iPhones and Android smartphones and tablets. The project partners will collaborate closely on the R&D phase of the project before disseminating the software's functionality to a wide range of end users in various educational sectors through training workshops, paper presentations and multiformat user manuals. TOOLS is being funded by the European Commission's Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) and the application was ranked first in the 2011 Lifelong Learning – Key Activities 2 (Languages) funding round. The project is being coordinated by Syddansk Erhvervsskole Odense-Vejle in Denmark, while institutions in Lithuania, Portugal, Spain and Scotland are also represented.
Dr Caoimhín Ó Dónaill of ICSRI is leading Ulster's participation in the project, where he is building upon many years of experience in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) built up through his involvement in previous high profile ICSRI affiliated projects such as the Linking Dictionaries and Texts Project (LDT), the Centre for Excellence in Multimedia Language Learning (CEMLL) and An Siollabas Nua don Ghaeilge ar an Tríú Leibhéal (see teagascnagaeilge.ie), a new national Third Level Syllabus for Irish based upon the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. During the course of the project, which is due to complete in 06/14, the software and sample materials will also be trialled locally within the maintained, integrated and Irish Medium educational sectors as part of ICSRI's proactive outreach strategy. Materials will also be developed to help foster the cultural and linguistic links between two of Ireland and Britain's neighbouring indigenous languages i.e Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
Key outputs from the TOOLS project will include Clilstore – the online authoring and storage system for CLIL learning units, model units covering all of the consortium languages, a coursebook in the various languages and 56 teacher/trainer workshops. The authoring system has been developed by the software development team at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig with input from all partners. It has undergone alpha and beta testing and is now fully functional. The interim progress report submitted to EACEA in March 2013 noted that the project was on track and that some of the targets set for the period had been surpassed e.g. there are currently over 650 learning units available in 21 different languages, well in excess of the planned 240 units. The interim EACEA evaluation scored the project 9/10.
Dissemination and Outreach
The project has built a community of users on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. It also maintains a project blog on WordPress and a bimonthly newsletter is mailed to the registered users of www.languages.dk, during 2012 the site attracted over 120,000 unique visitors. By the end of the project all partner institutions will have conducted training workshops and presented Clilstore to teachers in their own areas, utilising existing practitioner networks such as EfVET and An Mheitheal um Theagasc na Gaeilge ar an Tríú Leibhéal where possible, and will have created and tested sample materials extensively with students. In addition, the project team will have delivered training workshops, showcases and papers on Clilstore and CLIL at major international conferences such as Eurocall (Gothenburg, Sweden 2012; Évora, Portugal 2013) and Worldcall (Glasgow 2013).