Keck Center transformed into high-tech space focused on teaching foreign languages

Back to All Stories
W.M. Keck Humanities Resource Cente

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Douglas Hicks speaks at the newly renovated Keck Center. (Photo by Duy Trinh ’14)

The W.M. Keck Humanities Resource Center, located in Lawrence Hall, has been transformed from a quiet computer lab to a high-tech space that focuses on foreign language learning.

The center recently was renovated to allow for more interaction between students and faculty members and language interns. A grand opening was held October 24.

Complete with new software, computers, and furniture, the center’s new look brings along with it a promise of new programs that support the university’s goal to utilize the latest technologies to broaden students’ global perspectives. The transformation was made possible, in part, by grants from The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and the George I. Alden Trust.

“The goal is to expand and improve the ways in which students learn languages, using technology and other available resources,” said Yukari Hirata, associate professor of Japanese who was heavily involved in the renovation project.  “We wanted to create a friendly lounge so that students find language practice enjoyable, instead of intimidating.”

One of the project highlights is a new office for language interns from eight countries, who are playing an essential role in creating an inviting environment for foreign language learning.

The Keck has added high-end Mac computers, laptops, iPads, and high-quality microphones and headphones for students to use, as well as two flat-screen TVs in the lounge that display content from international channels throughout the day.

Software at the Keck now include Blue Jeans and Adobe Connect, video conferencing services similar to Skype that allow for programs like the Korean class to happen. Also available are Transparent Language, an online language learning program; Nanogong, an audio recording application; and Praat, a tool that allows for visual analyses of spoken utterances; as well as Skype and Final Cut Pro.

A new program the center has been piloting is Saturday morning Korean-language classes. Through the use of innovative technology and video conferencing, students are taught by a professor based in Syracuse.

While the program is still experimental and not offered for credit, the hope is that more foreign languages not offered in Colgate’s curriculum will be offered to students in the future.

“We’re always on the look out for more ways to enhance language learning,” says Zlatko Grozl, instructional technologist for the Keck Center. “Nothing can replace the valuable student-teacher interactions that we offer here, but I can imagine us offering more languages that we normally don’t teach here through these new technologies.”