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Prof. Bob Hershberger's "First of its Kind Textbook" Spotlighted by Higher Learning

March 27, 2002

March 27, 2002, Greencastle, Ind. - The March-April 2002 edition of the journal Higher Learning - Technology Serving Education includes a story on a pilot project at DePauw University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of North Carolina, Raleigh-Durham, that has resulted in the creation of an electronic version of Plazas becoming available. Bob Hershberger, assistant professor of Spanish at DePauw, is lead author of the print version of Plazas, a first-year Spanish textbook, and developed the new, interactive content.

Professors and students who use Plazas now receive a passcode, which allows them to access the electronic version of the textbook online. "Enabled by Rovia technology, the e-text is identical in appearance to the printed copy, but contains a host of enhancements and multimedia features, writes Higher Learning's Jennifer Kavur (the article is seen at right). "It is the first of its kind to use streaming audio to aid pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar exercises. Another unique feature is that the e-text uses the recorded voices of native speakers from 15 different Spanish-speaking countries, and integrates the recordings into each chapter. Students can click on the text, and not only hear the correct pronunciation, but develop the listening ability so critical to language mastery. As an added benefit, they are exposed to the cultural and regional subtleties unique to any given dialect. Vocubulary development is enhanced through the students' ability to click on words and hear the computer pronounce them correctly," she continues.

Dr. Hershberger tells the journal, "The Plazas e-textbook is a powerful complement to our program. It's as easy to use as a conventional book, but offers the interactivity of cutting-edge technology. After a few weeks of using it, students will convince even the most skeptical instructor of its intrinsic value to the curriculum."

The article notes there is also a CD-ROM edition of Plazas, which "gives students a special way of practicing and refining their pronunciation by allowing them to record their speech and then play back the recordings." Kavur also writes that Hershberger is now working on an intermediate version of his book, which will include print and electronic elements, and will allow "professors and students to exchange voice files of their recorded speech exercises."

You can learn more about Plazas by clicking here.

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