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Educational Software Thread, Language Lab Software in Technical; We're looking to set up a digital language lab. The previous tape-based system was good, but obviously technology moves on ...
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    enjay's Avatar
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    Language Lab Software

    We're looking to set up a digital language lab. The previous tape-based system was good, but obviously technology moves on and this is no longer appropriate, so we're looking for alternatives. Sony Virtuoso is an obvious choice, but carries quite a price tag so I was wondering what else people are using? To get the most from our investment, we'd prefer something which could sit on our existing IT Suites or laptop trolleys rather than be a dedicated language lab, but we would consider something dedicated as well.

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    I used to run a lab of Sanako soft/hardware. It used dedicated audio distribution hardware as there would have been to heavy a load on network to do it entirely digitally . However, it was installed a LONG time ago, and other options may be available now.

    It work, it works well in fact, and does more than he teachers actually ever use.

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    enjay's Avatar
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    Thanks Andrew, the newer software versions look pretty impressive. NetSupport-esque classroom management too, which could be useful (I'm currently writing a cost-justification for this anyway, so we could kill two birds with one virtual stone here).

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    We were in exactly the same position you were in and we considered a number of solutions.

    What put us off Sony was that it was quite old technology, we didn't want any potential problems when we migrated from XP to Windows 7, and when Sony sneaked out the rootkit and installed software (without telling the users) onto users computers that disabled certain features and was virtually impossible to remove, well that completely put is off Sony. I personally would never trust them again.

    The Sanako solution wasn't the cheapest option we looked at but it was by far the best, as Andrew has already said it actually does far more than the teachers ever use, but I always think its better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it.

    The old Sanako solutions used to be hardware based, I remember them installing their own cables for audio distribution, this was to keep network traffic down to a minimum and not disrupt the rest of the school network, but that as technology has improved they have brought out systems that run over your own network cabling, ie you only need computers and headsets. I can personally vouch for the 1200 and the Study 700, it is absolutely fantastic, and loved by both teaching staff and students alike. The great advantage with this is that it is upto date and fully MS Windows compliant.

    The other good thing about Sanako is their technical support, they are always helpful and have always resolved any issues we have had.

    Gavin

  5. Thanks to gavtow from:

    enjay (18th June 2012)

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    enjay's Avatar
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    Thanks, that's certainly given me some food for thought!

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    Just wondering what product you went for in the end @enjay ?

    We have Sanako but bored to tears of it not working properly, so looking for alternatives. Seen one called School shape but not managed to find any information on it apart from on its own website. Considering apple based products as well now, as we are looking to get a full MAC suite so possibly kill two birds with one stone.

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    enjay's Avatar
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    We haven't bought anything yet, because we're considering BYOD which would put a very different set of requirements in front of us. If we stick with managed desktops, we would probably buy Sony Virtuoso as it seemed really impressive and simple to use.

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    We looked at a Televic system once, long ago, and were all set to implement it until the money ran out; it ran using an additional PCI-E card (full height so need a normal tower) and on a seperate switched network i.e. you have two network points for each machine, one for your LAN as normal and one to connect to the expansion card. Lets you use the room as a normal IT suite still but gives you all the language lab gubbins (recording, listening in, conversations, PC control) as well.

    I suspect it was about £15k but it was three (busy) years ago so I have no idea if I've just made that up or not.

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    Thanks both, Ill just keep on looking hopefully there will be something at BETT

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Power View Post
    We have Sanako but bored to tears of it not working properly,
    Bit surprised. Once we got ours working, it just did. A bit of a struggle at times early on maybe, but their support is good.

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    There support is very good, I do not question that. But the software is at times something to be desired. Having tired all sorts to resolve various issues, relating to both the software and other anomalies, we feel it maybe time to look at something else.

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    enjay's Avatar
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    From what I pieced together when we were looking at this, new/recent Sanako customers are much happier than long-standing ones, as they made some quite significant changes (including making it software-only not with hardware adapters).

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    We went with:

    SoundBooth is a modern software-based language lab

    Our MFL staff have had one training session, but didn't pick up the use of the system as quickly as I would have hoped so have another training session scheduled for February.

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    Danp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Power View Post
    We have Sanako but bored to tears of it not working properly, so looking for alternatives. Seen one called School shape but not managed to find any information on it apart from on its own website. Considering apple based products as well now, as we are looking to get a full MAC suite so possibly kill two birds with one stone.
    What problems did you have? We went with Sanako in September after having their older product for 12 years.

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