How to start a CALL lab

This was sent in response to someone who wrote for advice on starting up a CALL lab.?? Responses ranged from 'hire consultants' to read the very good IALLT Lab Design Manual and the IALLT Digital Language Lab Solutions Manual – both available (not free) at http://www.iallt.org/about/publications .

My response:

Read up and hire consultants if you can, but don't neglect the??free resources inherent in??communities of practice and distributed learning networks.?? Particularly if your vision for your lab is real communication between collaborating students participating in constructivist??/ connectivist activities, then it is important in realizing that vision that you engage others who can help with expertise informally.?? Learning in this way gives all involved experience in the kind of learning you might want taking place in your lab (depending, again, on your vision for it).

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Messages to this list are a start in connecting with personal learning environments.?? One that I find particularly good for learning what other people are doing in technology enriched environments is Worldbridges.?? A good entry point for them is http://edtechtalk.com/.?? This is a community of home-grown webcasters who train each other and then get online and discuss and podcast.?? You can tune in and talk to them live if you wish, via Skype, but subscribe to their podcast feed and listen while commuting or jogging and you'll soon be tuned in to the latest issues and technologies and ideas for what you're trying to do.
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You're probably aware that Twitter is another way to extend your PLE / CoP / DLN.?? It's not as directed as you might like it to be but it's another modality for learning, and very effective for as long as you might like to use it.?? I find it's like radio or TV.?? I don't listen or watch everything in the media, I just tune in for a few minutes at a time, and if I have a good channel, I learn something while there.?? As with media, the things worth knowing get repeated to the point where they emerge from your random samples.?? Also, you can search Twitter.??
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Many people complain about information overload with Twitter and PLE / CoP / DLN's, but this I think is because these are new media and people haven't learned how to relegate them to the background as they do with other media taken for granted.
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The point is, as with good books and consultants and journal articles, use the new media as well, especially with regard to technology, because only in this media will you find the most up-to-date and most pertinent information from the mouths and minds of current practitioners.
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