University News

Community quick to adopt Rosetta Stone

Over 11,000 students, faculty and alums have signed up for software since it was offered

Staff Writer
Thursday, September 11, 2014

Keith Mills ’18 uses Rosetta Stone on his laptop. Many students said they have tried Rosetta Stone to learn a language in their free time.

Since the University began offering the online language learning program Rosetta Stone to the campus community free of charge in the spring, it has quickly seen “the fastest adoption of any software package in the history of Brown University,” said Ravi Pendse P’17, vice president for computing and information services and chief information officer.

“I’ve never seen anything this hugely popular,” he added.

To date, a total of 11,196 Brown community members have signed up for the program, including 4,197 students — comprising 3,195 undergraduates, 773 graduate students and 211 medical students — as well as 767 faculty members, 1,053 staff members and 5,180 alums, Pendse said. CIS is very pleased with the number of people who have enrolled in the program, he said, and the number of enrollments is expected to rise steadily.

Pendse said he decided to introduce Rosetta Stone for free because it is a well-known software program that is easy to use and includes 40 languages, the greatest diversity of options among programs of its kind. It “does not replace language instruction, but is meant to enhance it,” he added, saying the program “allows people to try things out while generating more interest in language learning.”

Pendse declined to disclose the cost of offering the program for free, citing the University’s contract with Rosetta Stone. But “you cannot put a monetary value on education or language learning,” he said.

Several students expressed satisfaction with their free access to Rosetta Stone, noting that it lets them explore learning a new language in their free time.

“I’ve always wanted to learn Spanish but didn’t want to dedicate one of my four classes to it,” said Summer Kennedy ’17.

Ezra Kagan ’17 cited similar reasons for using the program to learn Spanish. Though he found “the nature of the program very slow,” he said he was overall pleased with the University’s decision to offer it.

“My satisfaction depends on how much the program costs,” Kagan said. “Obviously, it didn’t work out for me very well, but if other people are having success, then it’s definitely a worthwhile tool and a good project.”

Looking ahead, CIS is working toward offering several other computer programs for free, Pendse said.

CIS administrators are in the process of introducing a program called Tableau that allows “anybody to bring an incredible amount of data visualization to presentations,” he said.

CIS is also conducting negotiations with Adobe to explore the possibility of offering the Adobe Creative Suite, which includes Photoshop and InDesign among other programs, to the community free of cost.

“We have to be mindful of the limited resources — we are not able to do everything,” he added.

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  1. CIS’s efforts in this area are much appreciated by the alumni community and, I’m sure, the student community.

  2. This is living proof that online courses have been around for quite awhile. They just haven’t been marketing themselves as such. For those of us who are alumni, this is way too awesome… and a happy alumni is a… well you know.

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