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Self-Access Center idea for my program

June 23, 2009

I read this article “Self-Access Centers: Maximizing Learners’ Access to Center Resources“by Benjaimin L. McMurry, Mark W. Tanner and Neil Anderson in TESL-EJ and thought it might work for my program.  We have a lab which students use occasionally for Facebook or for printing their papers and sometimes a desparate student for proofreading.  However, it doesn’t get much use beyond that.  In part, this usage is a result of that fact that we don’t have much software on our computers, but mostly because our (read my) efforts have gone toward the schools change of LMS to Angel last year.  Also, we could never find a pronunciation program that we liked.  So the lab has gone fallow.  

This is quite in contrast to the ESL lab when I arrived in 2000 when students were in there everyday because they had lab requirements which included doing exercises is several workbooks, on the computer, or with other materials available.  The lab requirements died as the college emphasized the LMS, the software we owned would no longer function with the upgraded computers and was too expensive to buy, and emphasis shifted to the web.  We were never able to take full advantage of the web in part because of our size.

After reading this article, I thought a self-access center might be the way to go.  It would give the students the capability to find out what the center has available for them as they work to improve their English.  We are a skills based program, so they could find out what materials fit the skills they want to work on by going to a web page and locating the materials for that skill that are available in the center.

I asked a colleague for the name of people in the college could help make a web page database.  He gave me a name and the person said it could be done.  My colleague is in the administration and likes new approaches, so he is putting some of his influence to use in getting the project moving.  In the next summer term, I will have my student workers compile an inventory of our materials after I find out how to arrange the inventory and what information we will need.  While I don’t think this will bring flocks of students into the lab, I like the concept behind it of students taking more charge of their learning.   

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