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Choose Your Own Adventure: Teleporting to a Virtual Phonetics Laboratory

Projektleitung: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Kevin Tang

Phonetics skills require hands-on experience in a phonetics laboratory, but existing phonetics courses at HHU focus primarily on teaching text-book knowledge, and lack any hands-on laboratory experience. Oftentimes students are underprepared to conduct empirical research for their BA/MA theses as they have never stepped foot in a laboratory until their final year. To overcome this, we aim to provide our students with the training for conducting laboratory work by creating an immersive experience. We will use interactive First-Person-View videos and screencasts to demonstrate the hands-on component of doing experimental phonetics, from recording speech in a sound booth to analysing waveforms on a computer.

To contextualise the theoretical knowledge of phonetics in Basis- and intermediate modules, we will make use of the recently installed phonetics lab [24.21.U1.022] to demonstrate techniques in recording and analysing speech data in a laboratory environment. We will record two types of videos demonstrating i) lab techniques (e.g. use of recording equipment and sound booths; best practices for conducting experiments), and ii) phonetic software (e.g., Praat) and R statistical packages.

The virtual lab environment enables a large number of students (e.g., 300 Basismodul students) to experience what working in a phonetics lab is like. Allowing for a self-paced walkthrough of these tools frees up valuable class time, allowing face-to-face instruction to be reserved for more advanced content, and preparing students to more effective learning during their in-person laboratory sessions.

To create an immersive First-Person-View experience, we will use a head-mounted video camera to record the lab activities. The videos will be edited into Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Interactive videos demonstrating common pitfalls of working with lab equipment and serving as a handbook of lab skills. We will use H5P to make the videos interactive with decisions that would lead to different endings (e.g., not adjusting the amplifier gain would lead to the ending that produces recording artefacts). To demonstrate the use of phonetics programs, we will create screencasts that refers to existing open-source text-based tutorials (e.g., https://docs.slam.phil.hhu.de/#/?id=slam-lab-tutorials and https://lingmethodshub.github.io/).

To assess the effectiveness of these videos, we will create complementary multiple-choice quizzes in a Moodle module. These interactive videos and screencasts will integrate with and serve as a natural progression from the existing e-learning reviews (“Interactive web-based review units for phonetics and phonology”) and existing courses at English Linguistics, including seminars such as Quantitative Methods for Linguistic Data (nominated for Lehrpreis 2022), Laboratory Phonology and intermediate Phonetics/Phonology, allowing students to see real-world uses of the more theoretical skills they learned in the e-learning reviews and during lectures.