Linguamix Classroom is a software to help a teacher give an engaging language learning session to a group of up to 50 students in an environment rich in social interactions. It can operate in almost any type of room; not necessarily a traditional computer laboratory or even a dedicated classroom.
On the teacher's side, Linguamix Classroom requires a computer, preferably a laptop, and a video projector. Student interaction happens through gamepad input devices (also called “joysticks”), with one gamepad per student. All the gamepads are connected to the teacher's laptop via several daisy-chained USB hubs. As its name indicates, only a single laptop is needed to allow up to 50 students to participate simultaneously in a lesson, so the complete hardware setup is highly portable.
Gamepads that feature vibration feedback are particularly interesting as Linguamix can remotely trigger a mild vibration in the selected gamepads held by students who entered a wrong answer. Vibration-enabled devices aren't a requirement for Linguamix to operate, but we found that they add a significant element of fun and suspense not usually associated with learning. It's especially attention-grabbing in a multi-player setting where one's vibrating gamepad (and wrong answer) is conspicuous to all.
Gamepads are widely available, cheap and durable; they are meant to withstand turbulent kids. In case one breaks, replacing it will cost $20 at most and won't require technical expertise. Some gamepads are wireless, making deployment even easier (although collection may be trickier). Although designed for entertainment, a gamepad is an efficient off-the-shelf human interface, regardless of the student's age. In fact, one would be hard pressed to find a more convenient input solution for multiple-choice questions.
As opposed to "one-to-one" e-learning setups where each student is staring at his or her screen, Linguamix Lab 50:1 aims to maintain the excitement of having participants interacting in a same room, in a playful atmosphere. There is no screen obstructing one's vision; students are free to look at the teacher, the projector's image, as well as each other. Students are merely required to hold their gamepad, follow the projector’s image and text, then push the correct gamepad button when prompted. A relaxed sitting posture will not affect the learning experience; in fact a desk isn't even required.
It is up to the teacher to chose whether Linguamix session scores are private to each student or whether the session is a public competition for the highest score; a multi-player game. Response reaction time can be measured down to milliseconds and factored into the final score. More importantly, each student's reaction time can be analyzed at a later time to draw interesting conclusions, such as one's confidence in responding.
Linguamix Lab 50:1 is obviously a much more cost-effective solution than any one-to-one computer setup, considering hardware purchase price and long-term maintenance. A laptop will work just as well as a desktop computer, meaning this entire language laboratory can be setup almost anywhere, moved from class to class, possibly packed into a suitcase to be hand-carried and installed at a remote location for the duration of a session — all by the teacher himself.
Linguamix Lab 50:1 will fully function even in locations lacking internet access, although power is required for the video projector. Results collected from an "offline" Linguamix session are saved onto the laptop’s hard drive until they can be fed back to a central database upon return to an Internet-connected location.
The most extreme scenarios are possible. Imagine a teacher traveling to a remote school in a small village deep in the jungle, opening your suitcase in a nice, mildy darkened room or hall lent for the occasion, pluging in your Linguamix Lab components in a few minutes, quickly typing each student's name in a list, handing out the gamepads, giving the pupils a two-hours language class which uses the most exciting and modern teaching platform there is, then returning to your office in the city to transfer the children's session results to your main Linguamix student database. Locations can be rotated so that many kids may have access to this experience, regardless of the infrastructure of their hometown. Results are tracked over time, with statistics revealing students which would benefit from a grant to a higher education level.
Linguamix Lab 50:1 can help give valuable language skills to many people today. It doesn’t require complex deployment logistics, grand budgets, new government policies or cultural revolutions to make educational-, social- or business sense. Also, because Linguamix is strictly software it is friendly to national economies; it is possible to purchase locally-built computers and peripherals — or use existing ones — and install Linguamix on them.