The ALA-S Project: Technology for language acquisition for immigrants

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PROPOSAL OUTLINE

 

  • Introduction
  • About the project
  • The ALA-S Network: Advancing a social network approach for education
  • Creating Communities of learners
  • Activities and schedule
  • ALA-S Network: Innovation in Learning
  • About Justice International
  • International Action for Justice: The goals of our organization
  • Justice International: Our experience
  • Justice International: Our team

 

  • ALA-S Network Technology: Conceptualizing a new idea
  • The Origins of the ALA-S Networks: Teaching English at Newcomer High School in San Francisco
  • Using Social Network technology for Education and Adult Language Acquisition
  • The Technology described
  • A youtube, wikipedia and facebook for education?
  • Creating a learning experience from any media
  • Collaborative creation and sharing of knowledge
  • An interactive-collaborative approach to knowledge creation and learning
  • Benefits, various components of the ALA-S Network
  • Memorization, attention, speed processing and sequencing
  • Participation and collaboration as a means of learning
  • Building strong support networks and communities of learners and teachers
  • Learning, language Acquisition and the ALA-S Technology Project
  • Learning in a new way or as  kids have always done?
  • ALA-S Network Technology: Operationalization of the project
  • Goals and target population
  • Implementation plan
  • Justice International: our network of partners and collaborators
  • Critical points and evaluation
  • Contributions and future developments
  • Learning to learn and innovate
  • Innovating in learning and innovation
  • The future
  • Appendice
  • About ALA-S Technology project potential partners

 

 

The ALA-S Network Project

Using Social Network technology for Education and Language Acquisition

 

PROPOSAL

 

  • Introduction

 

In response to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation Request for Proposals (RFP) for its "Immigrant Integration Strategy:  Adult English Language Acquisition" grant, Justice International presents the following proposal to obtain underwriting for its Adult Language Acquisicion throught Social Network project (ALA-S Network project for short).

 

  • About the ALA-S Network  Project:

The ALA-S Network project was borned out of the accumulative experience of Justice International in language education.  Through a series of innovations in teaching methods and actual use of new technologies in the classroom, our teachers has transformed the way of learning a new language.  This evolution both at the classroom and in the technologies has brought us to a next step in the innovation process:  The ALA-S Network project.

The goal of ALA-S Network Project (aka Panita program) is to create a social-network  technology for language acquisition and education.  This web-based technology will aim to promote collaboration among language teachers as well as cooperation among students in order to create a highly creative, dynamic, participatory and interactive language acquisition process.  The technology will facilitate the creation of true learning communities. After presenting in the next section some background of our organization, and a brief introduction to origen and evolution of the project, in section II will describe in detail the ALAS Network learning technology, its components and its interrelation with the learning process of a new language.

In order to achieve these goals, ALA-S Network's initiatives will divide the operationalization of the project in 3 main areas of activities: Software Technology desing and development; the creation of content and basic knowledge bases; promotion of the ALA-S network technology through a well design pilot program and teacher training.  We will elaborate on this main areas of activities in section III.

The use of social-network technology to enhance language learning, we claim, is not just a sophisticated technology to replicate standards methods of teaching over the INTERNET.  Trough the evolution of the ALA-S Network vision we observe clear evidence of changes in the methalogic of the process od adquiring a new language: we have changed the actual learning process and we aim to further innovate in learning.  Let us discuss further.

 

 

  • About Justice International

 

  • International Action for Justice: The goals of our organization

 

Justice International (aka Fundacion Justicia International) is a corporation organized under the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law. Its goals include:  promote advancement and take positive action to further international justice through contributions aiming to develop and strengthen the system of international justice, through assistance services to international communities and the promotion of a global sustainable development for all.

Justice International is organized in divisions and programs: Human Rights and the International Justice System; Democracy and Election Monitoring; Environment; Assistance Services for International Communities (ASIC) in education (Programa Futuro), legal, communication (Panita Program) and others.

 

  • Justice International: Our experience

 

A main activity  of Justice International is  the promotion of democracy, human rights, and the development of an international system of justice. Justice International has lead several cases into the Interamerican Court of Human Rights and is currently promoting a International Workshop on Human Rights aiming to create a online Justice Network. Our Democracy and Election Monitoring Division has participated in more than 12 elections.

In Justice International,  we believe that in this era of globalization, the concept of justice goes beyond the political and human rights aspects of International Justice. These aspects are fundamental, but social and economic justice are crucial both, as an element of international relation and the community of nations and, in relation to the phenomena of in ever increasing growth of international populations.  In this sense Justice International has created programs addressing immigrant services: Programa Futuro (Program for the Future) a educational program for international communities and the Panita Program for communication and language adquisition.

Programa Futuro is an education-assistance program aiming to increase educational expectations, assist with High School graduation and college planning, and to create a positive attitude in students and families that allows them to pursue education as a way to improve their lives.  Since its inception PROGRAMA FUTURO has reached a total population of 1400 adults and 1800 children (projects include workshops, tutoring, mentoring, online learning system) in northern California.

 

A constant in our activities has been the introduction of social innovations.  Our Democracy and Election Monitoring Division pioneered a successful and innovative participatory management model for volunteers called Parliamentary e-Democracy.  This direct democracy approach for the management of a confederation of civil society organizations an individual volunteers consisted in an online system designed to allow all volunteers to "sit" as an one vote parliamentary in a online system emulating the decision making cycle of a parliament.  This system allowed for a very successful, inclusive and highly participatory management of 3000 volunteers for election monitoring in one region in Venezuela. The system was recognized with the "best regional performance" for the 2006 Venezuelan presidential election.

 

  • Justice International: Our team

 

The preparation and capacity of our members and collaborators is one of the reason that explain our success as social innovator and entrepreneurs. Most of our members and collaborators speack fluently two languages and have graduate degrees from recognized institutions.  Following a brief introduction to our Board of Directors:

 

  • Carlos Suarez:  Carlos holds a B.A. in economic engineering and graduate degrees in Political Science (Stanford University, USA) and in Modern Economics (Kyoto University, Japan). He has been involved in education and education advocacy as researcher/adjunct professor at IESA MBA program (Venezuela) and the National Hispanic University (California). He is a community activist--a leader in college outreach programs for the Latino community; counselor for the Newcomer HS San Francisco, consultant for the Migrant Education Program , human rights advocacy, and others. He has developed several international consulting projects and participated in seminars in areas such as innovation, science and technology policies; socially responsible organizations and sustainable development; distributive justice and the role of education and others. Carlos specializes in the study of science, technology and society. Carlos speaks Spanish, English, Japanese and Portuguese.
  • Giselle Samuely: Giselle obtained her B.A. in Political Science from Barnard College, Columbia University, New York City and her Juris Doctor from Boston University School of Law. She is admitted to the New York Bar and is a member of the American Bar Association and New York State Bar Association. She is a founding partner of the law offices of Samuely Rojas & Associates in New York since 2001, specializing in immigration, corporate law and international border transactions with an emphasis in Latin America. Giselle speaks Spanish, English, German, French
  • Humberto Gonzalez:

 

  • ALA-S Network Technology: Conceptualizing a new idea

 

In order to conceptualize the ALAS-Network learning system, this section will present its origin and evolution, as well as the forward-looking vision of its development.  For clearer definition, we present in a separate section the actual plan of operation (see following section).

 

  • The Origins and Evolution of the ALA-S Networks: Teaching English at Newcomer High School in San Francisco

 

As mentioned in the introduction of the proposal, the ALA-S Network project was borned out of the accumulative experience of Justice International in language education.  Through a series of innovations in teaching methods and actual use of new technologies in the classroom, our teachers has transformed the way of learning a new language.

 

We begin to innovate in language education as part of a mentoring tutoring program for the Migrant Education Program at San Francisco.  In relation to this program, Greg Collins, dean of Newcomer High School of San Francisco says,  "While teaching for our high school, Mr. Suarez developed mentoring and tutoring activities for the students of the Migrant Education Program, a federal program that helps migrant families with special needs. In the process Mr. Suarez showed initiative and creativity in achieving important goals for the students and the community. For example, he pioneered a project in which he taught English to our students using lyrics of songs that were currently popular amongst the students themselves."

Through a series of innovations in teaching methods and actual use of new technologies in the classroom, our teachers has transformed the way of learning a new language.  These were the phases that our language adquision program has gone through:

  • Creation:
  • Our first website:
  • Adding collaboration to the learning process:
  • Creating a complete lesson, adding a "Learning comments database"

 

 

This evolution both at the classroom and in the technologies has brought us to a next step in the innovation process:  The ALA-S Network project.

 

 

  • The vision of the ALA-S Network

 

The  ALA-S Network project is an initiative oriented towards the facilitation of language acquisition and development of communication skills and cultural understanding among individuals living in highly-diverse and international communities.  Specifically, the desire for integration and the  improvement of the well-being of immigrants in Silicon Valley through the provision of tools, networks and programs that respond to the challenge of education in such a multilingual context have informed the Panita initiative thus:

 

To create a social network based technology that will transform the teaching and learning experience of English as a Secong language (ESL) and Vocational English as a Second Language (VSLE) in Silicon Valley.  In particular, this new way of teaching and learning will aim to:

  • Provide an online/on-site system that will allow the transformation of any availlable piece of media (e.g. a text, an audio file or a video) into a language lesson (or for that matter, to transform any media into a teaching and learning experience).
  • Create a public knowledge depository (or knowledge base) designed specifically to facilitate teaching and enhance the learning process.
  • Furnish a space where communities of learners can collaborate, acquire, and develop new platforms for learning, and where communities of teachers can similarly collaborate towards the same end.  The ALA-S network project aims to provide these two groups with an expanded social network and community of learners and educators sharing the same purpose.
  • Provide not only a complementary technology for the classroom, but to change the way we learn and interact as a result of our educational environments.

 

In order to meet its objectives, Justice International is already in the process of developing a multi-lingual social-network technology for language acquisition.  The next step is the ALA-S Network project, which will add social network capabilities to the current Panita (Justice International) website.  This web-based network will facilitate the creation of online/on-site learning communities, with a particular emphasis on adult learners of English as a Second Language (ESL) as stated above.  ALA-S Network's social network technology will also provide the framework for a creative, collaborative tutoring and learning process that will be highly participatory and interactive in its nature.

 

  • The Learning Technology described: A Youtube, Wikipedia and Facebook for education?

 

A way to initially introduce  the technology is by using a colloquial approach.  We all know the immense success of websites such as Youtube, Wikipedia and Facebook, all of them active participants of the Silicon Valley experience.  And we are familiar with their main contribution, and the key defining elements of their success.  Youtube made available to millions a platform for the rapid dissemination, exchange, and enjoyment of audiovisual media. Wikipedia has vastly transformed they way by which we access and produce encyclopedic information, most notably in its collaborative approach to the creation of an online encyclopedia that transforms itself regularly with a literal world of contributions and updates. Facebook has simply provided individuals with the capability to create links between themelves and with it, has showed just the tip of the iceberg of what collaboration online might achieve in transforming our society.  These three components --media, collaborative knowledge creation, and the capability of linking individuals into communities of interest --are present in our vision for the ALA-S Network Learning Technology:

 

  • The use of media for language acquisition:  The first component of the ALA-S Network technology is the concept of fostering a direct learning experience from any media, be it text, audio, video[1].  This is, the system will have functionality that will allow to transform any media in a language lesson, an learning opportunity.  This is achieved through submission of the media object into a cycle of analysis, relations-building, and synthesis (the ARS cycle).  Currently this process is completed manually, with eyes on the development of tools (and/or the incorporation of available software) to automatize the process.  In the case of language acquisition, this process entails script transcription, vocabulary/idiomatic expressions analysis, glossary building (the formation of a dictionary database of words and expressions drawn from the media contributions that formulate our ever-growing data bank), translations, and the assemblage of relevant learning/knowledge capsules (grammar, verbs, cultural knowledge) that enhance original media. 
  • Interactive knowledge base creation: The second component is the dynamic and interactive building of a knowledge base. This relation-articulating step of the ARS cycle links parts of the analysis with explanatory knowledge.  As such, new materials based on the original media entries need to be dynamically updated for the cycle of connection and creation to be fulfilled. This implies, for example, differentiating individual terms and turns of phrase from what might be their encyclopedic definition, drawing them out of a limited domain and placing them in a broader context of understanding and knowledge.
  • Social networks technology: The third component is to include capabilities that allow individuals, students, and teachers to form themselves into a dynamic learning community. This technology will include: capabilities that will allow collaboration through the whole of the ARS cycle according to the preference of the instructors.  Our experience suggests that the inclusion of students in this collaboration process is a strong motivational tool for language learning.
  • Taking advantage of abundant and low cost media and information already available on the Internet
  • The collaborative creation and sharing of knowledge via the ALA-S Network site
  • An interactive-collaborative approach to knowledge creation and learning
  • Benefits: Learning and the different components of the ALA-S Network
  • Memorization, attention, speed processing and sequencing
  • Participation and collaboration as a mean for learning
  • Learning, language Acquisition and the ALA-S Technology Project
  • Learning in a new way or as always kids have done?
  • ALA-S Network Technology: Operationalization of the project

 

  • Goals and target population

 

The goal of the project is to develop the basic software infrastructure and evaluate the efectiveness of the ALA-S network for language acquisition through the development of a series of pilot programs.

 

The exclusive geographic target  for this project is the Silicon Valley Communities. Given the flexibility and accessibility of an online technology the system will be widely available for the Silicon Valley individuals, through special offer that we will be promoted as part of this proposal.  The target population for the pilot programs of the project will be low-income immigrants, enrolled in already existing English Language Courses in recognized institutions working in the Silicon Valley.

 

  • Implementation plan

 

In order to achieve these goals, ALA-S Network's initiatives are divided into 2 main areas of activity:

 

  • Technology development:
  • Software development: Improving the ALA-S Network website  by adding social network functionality and language-specific tools to facilitate collaboration among tutors and students for learning 
  • Content Development: Creating knowledge bases  and content for primary English language acquisition and advanced specialized themes (e.g. citizenship, vocational,etc) from multiple language platforms (e.g. English/English, English/Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, etc.)
  • Evaluation and Dissemination of ALA-S Network Technology at a variety of organizations (Non-profits, schools, career development centers, colleges):
  • Development of Comprehensive Pilot Programs: Implementation of English acquisition courses for adults, ESL and VESL
  • Pilot Programs through Training for tutors and educators :  Teaching current providers of ESL and VESL how to use ALA-S Networks
  • Pilot Programs for English for parent involvement in K-12: Pilots for the use of the systems in K-12 courses

 

 

Details and scheduling

 

  • Justice International: our network of partners and collaborators
  • Critical points and evaluation

 

 

 

memory, attention, processing speed and sequencing skills, which are vital to all learning.

 

     -  To developed a multiple language social network technology to facilitate the creation of  online/onsite learning communities with particular emphasis in adult English language acquisition and education for English Language Learners.  Panita social network technology will allow for a creative and collaborative tutoring and learning process for more participatory acquisition of English  language skills.

 

 

  • Detailed explanation of the Project development, its contect, activities and time line

 

  • Technology development:  Improving the ALA-S Networks website (First phase - first quarter)
  • Expansion of specific content modules:  Creating knowledge bases  and content for multiple language platforms
  • Expanding the use of ALA-S Networks: 
  • Training program for tutors and educators :  Teaching current providers how to use ALA-S Networks's
  • Implementation of English acquisition courses as demmonstrative cases
  • ALA-S Networks as complementary tool for parent involvement in K-12 ESL student education

Innovation and contribution:

 First formal

  • What are the geographic region(s) served by the proposed project (county and specific cities/communities)?
  • What is the demographic population that will be served by your project? (Please provide specifics, e.g. percentage of low-income or people of color, etc. as available.)
  • Project activities and time line:

About ALA-S Network:

 

 

 

 

  • What are the unique aspects and features of your project?
  • everywhere, everytime
  • We are the first known organization to apply social network technology to education/language acquisition
  • Innovative and effective strategy with potential for system change:
  • Will provide a system change through the promotion of collaborative tutoring and learning
  • use of the service will also help bridge the technological divide for immigrants through increased use of technology for language learning / can argue that this will impact job readiness
  • podemos mencionar que el sistema permitiria "a two way approach" to teach english to inmigrants, and also, as we have been doing, to teach spanish and other languages to services providers, non-profits, schools, other
  • Popularizing a highly participatory and community based approach to learning and curriculum development
  • Rapid distribution of lesson plans, concepts, instructional techniques, and network learning tools
  • The formation and enhancement of communities, as well as fostering constructive bonds that enable greater participation of parents in the education of their children
  • What impact do you hope to achieve? How will you know if you achieve it? (Please provide specific outcomes, identified benchmarks and indicators of success that are meaningful and can be captured using qualitative and/or quantitative evaluation approaches - e.g. identify and train X# of community leaders to participate in planning processes.)
  • Meaninful benchmark:   (i think i lost data here ...)
  • Users of the system
  • anecdotal evidence
  • number of users able to do things the weren't able to do prior (could be obtained through surveys)
  • Why is this the right time for this project?
  • This is as much the right time for the ALA-S project as it is the right place.  Silicon Valley has unique and heavy culture of immigration, the acceptance and eager use of technology, social networks in general, as well as the current need to reconnect people with new skills, a new premise, and better communication skills and cultural understanding following the major economic downturn.  This means that ALA-S, in contributing to the latter (skills-communication) will help support change in an economy that can only benefit
  • If the proposal were to receive funding from the community foundation, how will your organization sustain the project after the funding period ends?
  • What do you plan to contribute to the field in terms of knowledge-building?
  • What is the most difficult aspect of this project that could affect your success?
  • About ALA-S Technology project potential partners: We have issued a memorandum and questionnaire via an online form to potential collaborators, both individuals and organizations, who who would wish to form a partnership for the enhancement and promotion ALA-S Network's mission.  The online questionnaire (please refer to attachment) details the following ways in which future collaborators might contribute and/or mutually benefit from the ALAS Network Project:
  • The provision of an instructor by contributing individuals or organizations who will use the ALAS Network learning system.
  • The possibility of hosting a pilot program of the ALA-S Network on-site/online Learning Technology.
  • Information on how to become the recipient of training for the use of ALA-S network learning technology.
  • Details about contributions, training, time commitment, pro bono offerings such as the allocation of funds for training, prep time, and instruction.
  • Justice International actively searched for organizational partners and collaborators as well as individual volunteers .In response to our request for memorandum of understanding, we have already obtained the following preliminary agreements:
  • Los Altos Mountain View Adult Education Center: has agreed to host a pilot program of the ALA-S Network Technology. As such, Justice International will provide training to chosen instructors of a Lit/Beginners ESL course on site at the center, in addition to shared instruction at computer lab with assigned instructors (we calculated 5 hours in a initial period and later 3 hours per week), to be provided on a weekly basis. Los Altos Mountain View Adult Education will also collaborate on the assessment of the pilot program.  Finally, an additional two programs to be hosted by the Center will be a Citizen Prep and CNA health care trainings, and for that matter any other suitable course from Career Technical Education in similar but not identical terms (director Laura Stefanski).  
  • Day Worker Center of Mountain View: has approved two hours of ESL teaching and/or two hours of training for/with the ALA-S project (director Maria Marroquin).
  • The Discovery Charter School:  has expressed interest in the domain of utilizing the ALA-S Network as complementary tool for parental involvement in K-12 ESL student education (xxx Johanna Caslander)
  • Aspire Public School: has similarly expressed interest in the domain of utilizing the ALA-S Network as complementary tool for parental involvement in K-12 ESL student education, and will host an additional EFL class to parents oriented toward improving the capacity and quality of parental involvement in the academic life of their children.

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