Todd Bryant, Dickinson College
The Mixxer is a website for language learners seeking a language exchange via Skype. It functions as social networking site with learners finding language partners based on their native language and the language they wish to practice. Users can search for a partner and contact them directly via Skype or send them an email suggesting a time to meet. Once a partner or partners are found, they contact each other via Skype allowing each to practice their target language with a native speaker. There is also a blog function where users can post questions or ask the community for feedback or corrections of their writing.
The site is open and free to anyone. Our classes at Dickinson College integrate these exchanges into many of our beginning and intermediate language courses as do dozens of other colleges and universities. However, the majority of users are independent learners who use the conversations with their language partners for conversational practice and feedback. Most of these learners are non-traditional learners without access to a language classroom, either because they are not enrolled in a school or a university or because the language they are learning is not offered at their institution.
In an attempt to provide some structure for independent learners, I have started creating lessons that use open and freely available grammar, vocabulary and reading comprehension resources and integrate them with speaking and writing activities that users can complete with their language partner. I have completed two sets of lessons for English using resources from the BBC (http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/big-city-small-world) and Voice of America (http://learningenglish.voanews.com/programindex.html), and I am currently adding to lessons for Spanish using Practica Español (http://www.practicaespanol.com/) and Professor Barbara Kuczun Nelson’s site at Colby College (http://www.colby.edu/~bknelson/SLC/index.php).
The following video presents my goal to continue to add lessons for other languages on the site, allowing the network of learners/experts that exist within the Mixxer to use the structured content to form open ended MOOCs.
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