From Hiroe Kaji Sep 15th, 2005.  

Dear Dan,

Here is my brief report with comments about the  Portsmouth visit. I enjoyed
the visit and it was very useful. I would like to thank the faculty for
making it possible.

1) The Group.
There were five of us; Mr Kan, Mark, Nadia, Mr Knight and myself.

2) Getting to Portsmouth.
We left Didcot at 7:05 a.m. and arrived in Portsmouth at 9:10 a.m. for our
10:00 a.m. meeting. The traffic was not too bad; only two busy parts during
the commuting rush hour. We had to park our car in a normal car park, and
paid 6 pounds for one day. Mr Knight treated us to lunch in a nearby
restaurant after the workshop.

2) The Workshop
Mr Robert Hobbs, the chief technician introduced us to Melissi, the Language
teaching multi-media programme, from 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in one of the
three language laboratory-lecture theatres. There were about 25 computers in
room, which was spacious and airy. It was very well equipped; OHP, white
board, power point projector, etc. The whole building is dedicated to
language teaching-learning (school of languages) and Spanish, German, French
and English as a foreign language are mainly taught. According to Mr Hobbs,
almost 60% of the facilities are used to teach foreign students English.
There are 4-5 computer rooms that students can use as well.

I think that Mark and Mr Kan would be much better in explaining what this
programme can bring to language teaching and learning, but learners can
practise the target language through audio and visual aids, can send
textmessages to each other and even speak to each other. The lesson can be
both teacher-centred and student-centred; e.g. teacher can control students¹
activity, as well as each student can get on with what they want to do. One
thing that struck me was that each computer needs Melissi to be installed,
and the students may not get access locally. Teachers will have to produce a
data base and save it in the university archive (central data base), and in
order to run this programme successfully, not only the technicians, but also
the teachers in the same department will have to cooperate.

I think teachers should think how and what they want to teach first, rather
than think of what we can do through the programme. After all, as Nadia also
pointed out, that we should not change our teaching through the multi-media
tools, but we should aim to make our teaching and student¹s learning more
dynamic, and consequently beneficial to both.

We have the Web-Learn facility and current analogue system. We can already
convey quite good facilities for learning and teaching. We need to think
what more we can bring in what we want to do. Also my main concern is the
access that the students may have. Ultimately I am hoping that they can
self-study through such programme in their rooms, though I am not sure how
possible this is.

The cost of introducing this programme and maintenance was raised too. The
experts need to be consulted. We will need technician(s) as well as IT