LearnWeb is an educational Web platform specifically designed for searching, collecting, sharing, and analysing open-access multimedia resources, through individual or collaborative activities. Among the many resources accessible through the platform there are TED talks, an open set of videos with multilingual transcripts that are gaining momentum as multimedia teaching resources. An advantage of accessing TED talks and transcripts in LearnWeb derives from the availability of extra interactive features specifically designed to support learning. More specifically, the students can highlight a word or part of a sentence in the transcript and tag it with an open annotation; furthermore, when the mouse passes over a highlighted word, the system automatically shows a set of definitions and synonyms for that word, taken from WordNet. Finally, if the students are not happy with their selection or tag, they can delete it and make a different one. The students’ activities (their selections, tags, deletions, etc.) are logged, and log files can be accessed by the teachers for research purposes. This paper illustrates the potential (and limits of the current version) of LearnWeb and its TED-related features for the teaching/learning of higher-level comprehension skills in academic curricula, by describing its use in a module on interpreting. In fact, the selecting and tagging features available on TED transcripts were used to help the students develop skills such as understanding discourse structure, distinguishing key elements of discourse from exemplifications and peripheral elements, and identifying speech acts. Furthermore, the logging feature allowed the teacher to collect precious information on the students’ choices and difficulties while performing those tasks. While exercises of this sort do not necessarily require the use of software, detailed monitoring of the students’ choices and mistakes would not be possible otherwise.
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