Hack-a-thon Toward a Collaborative Language Diagnostics and Refresher Framework

In May 2017, LACOL’s Language Instruction working group held a 3-day intensive workshop (also known as a hack­-a­-thon) to prototype a shared online diagnostic and refresher framework. The face-to-face event was organized by Mike Jones, Director of the Language Resource Center and Media Lab at Swarthmore College, guided by a core team of faculty and language technologists at the participating institutions.

Workshop Program: click here

Workshop Report: click here

Special Guest:
Christopher M. Jones
Teaching Professor of French and Computer-Assisted Language Learning
Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Chris Jones, CMU
Dr. C. Jones, CMU

Christopher M. Jones is Interim Head and Teaching Professor of French and Computer-Assisted Language Learning in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. He was Director of the Modern Language Resource Center from 1993 to 2016 and founder and Director of the Masters in Applied Second Language Acquisition from 2010 to 2016. He has spoken, published and consulted widely in the area of technology-enhanced language learning. His materials development experience includes textbook authoring, CD-ROM design and programming, and on-line courseware creation in French, Chinese, Spanish and Arabic. He was a participant in the interdisciplinary Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center and continues to be an active member of the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon.

Goals for the LACOL Language Instruction hack-a-thon:

1. Explore development of shared diagnostic and bridge/refresher framework for language instruction that could support students in identifying and closing gaps in knowledge and skills.
2. Engage faculty as content creators, working with professional staff and students for technical support and data input.
3. Build prototypes of a diagnostic test and refresher module; these could serve as models for further development of online testing and teaching materials for sharing across the Consortium.
4. Document results and recommendations for continued collaboration.

Background and Rationale:

Language and Media Center @ Swarthmore
Language and Media Center @ Swarthmore

In ancient and modern languages, faculty have expressed the need for better workflows and tools to place students in the language sequence and support them in closing gaps of understanding or skill. Throughout the year, the Language Instruction working group has been exploring the idea of a collaborative framework to curate or build appropriate online tools and resources – including metadata on related pedagogical practices such as digital storytelling. Contributing to a common diagnostic framework that links students to appropriate refresher content could realize a truly collaborative benefit compared to each school reinventing the wheel.  During the 4-day hack-a-thon, participants will work together on the initial draft and prototype.

Location: Swarthmore College

Date/Time: May 5-7, 2017


  • 8-10 faculty
  • 4-5 technologists, instructional designers
  • 2-3 students
  • Invited speaker/consultant, Dr. Christopher Jones
Additional Resources:
• Adaptive Learning: https://lacol.net/adaptive-latin-learning-lacol2016 (2016 LACOL workshop)
• Placement: https://lacol.net/latin-placement-lacol2016 (2016 LACOL workshop)