Monthly Archives: May 2011

EDUKWEST Ep. 62 with Rafael Corrales of LearnBoost

I had the pleasure of interviewing LearnBoost’s founder and CEO Rafael Corrales on how came up with the initial idea and how he and his team have shaped it until it became what we see today: a nicely made gradebook with pretty design, easy to create & mangage lesson plans, functions to share student progress with the parents and the possibility to integrate with Google Apps.

LearnBoost is currently free to use and I hope you’ll get a good idea of LearnBoost’s capabilities watching our EDUKWEST but essentially you have nothing to lose, so I’d say anyone interested should definitely go and open an account!

Read more and watch the Interview on EDUKWEST →

KWestions Ep. 23 with Shah Ullah of GrayMatter Foundation

Just a few days ago I first got in touch with Shah Ullah of the GrayMatter Foundation via Twitter and I immediately liked what these young founders are doing. I believe, innovation is not a question of age at all, it may not be the most common thing when the founders are all still in High School though.

Well, it’s maybe at this age only when you still have the outstanding enthusiasm and commitment to just launch and keep going with a project whereas later in life it naturally happens that you think more before you start.

Long story short, as a bit uncommon projects have always appealed to me and therefore I am happy that Shah agreed on doing a KWestions.

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Brainscape iPhone app teaches you Spanish using “Smart Flashcards” and Brain Science

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Andrew Cohen, founder and CEO of the smart flashcard platform Brainscape.

Last month, I was honored to be interviewed on Kirsten Winkler’s blog as part of her series about web and mobile “flashcard” applications. As the founder of Brainscape – a new type of flashcard engine – I naturally spoke of flashcards’ tremendous usefulness as a complement to a more interactive curriculum, including vocabulary, supplementary facts, etc.

Today, however, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight how Brainscape has used the latest in cognitive science techniques to actually teach a language from scratch. Our new app Brainscape Spanish applies a revolutionary new type of language-acquisition approach that we call Intelligent Cumulative Exposure (ICE).

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EDUKWEST Ep. 61 with Travis Millman of EnglishCentral

In this week’s EDUKWEST I interview Travis Millman, VP of product for EnglishCentral Inc. Although still quite concentrated on the Asian market, I think it’s a nice product worth having a look at from both teacher and student side.

EnglishCentral consists of three main areas, one is to watch authentic videos dealing with different topics such as politics or entertainment. Second is to learn all relevant vocabulary, also structured according to topics for instance introductions or culture. The third element is to learn to speak or more specifically how to pronounce words.

Looking from a student perspective, I like that it’s pretty customizable and that I don’t have to watch this or that video but define my fields of interest and thus get only relevant lessons for me.

Read more and watch the Interview on EDUKWEST →

Teachers need to become Learning Consultants

Curation in any sense is one of the hottest topics on the Internet at the moment. Reaching from curating information that flows in our social stream over news to any other piece of information in our digital life. And we all know that our digital life is already pretty much just our life.

One thing I am thinking about for quite a while now is the curation of learning tools, services and applications. Every day the number of those is growing and who else than the teacher / tutor could give distinct advice to learners on which of those would fit their needs best.

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KWestions Ep. 22 with Jani Penttinen of PremiumFanPage

As part two of my series portraying translation businesses on the Internet I did a KWestions with Jani Penttinen of Xiha. You might remember this name from an EDUKWEST we did several months ago but this time it was all about his latest venture PremiumFanpage where he is also CEO.

The original idea of PremiumFanpage is to give businesses the opportunity to connect with their fans or also users in general in any language.

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Kirstradamus: The Teacher Cloud

Just read an interesting article by Greg Kumparak on MobileCrunch. Apparently another forecast by Kirstradamus became reality, this time it is the Teacher Cloud.

Today Castle Rock Research Corporation, a publisher of educational resources based in Canada launched its newest product called Motuto. It is an application for iPhone and iPad that enables students to connect with a tutor when they are stuck with their homework.

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busuu in Numbers: 3 Years 2.5 Million & 7 Days

The language learning community busuu turned three today. Time really flies, so happy birthday to Bernhard, Adrian and the team at busuu!

As a side note to the event busuu shared that over 2.5 million people now have signed up to learn a language with the service. All in all, busuu seems to be on a role at the moment, getting some nice coverage in the press, for example yesterday on the Washington Post blog.

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Udemy also throws its Hat into the Weekly Deal Ring

Today, I received a pretty interesting email from Udemy, advertising the new “Course of the Week” deal on the platform. It’s the same one Udemy is currently promoting via TeachStreet’s weekly deal called “Social Marketing for Startups”.

With now TeachStreet and Udemy offering weekly deals in various educational topics, good times for learners are to come upon us.

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EDUKWEST Ep. 60 with Koichi Ko of TextFugu

There is always a multitude of reasons why I enjoy talking with him [Koichi], not only that he appeared in one of the very first episodes (EDUKWEST #4) and gave me some credit sort of ex ante the interview concept had proven itself to be more than just a flash in the pan but also as our online careers (if you want to call it like that) began approximately the same time and if you have a closer look and compare you’ll find quite some parallels.


Besides knowing that he wants to disrupt (no, I don’t think that the term is overused when talking about some people at least) the Japanese textbook industry, I was also keen on hearing his reasons to quit live teaching. I’ve my own reasons for that but seeing him doing the same at again almost the same point was quite interesting.

Read more and watch the Interview on EDUKWEST →

KWestions Ep. 21 with Paul Sulzberger – 30 Years of Translation

Yesterday, I nosed into the translator business a little deeper. In my teaching career this has never been an interesting field to me as I basically thought being a native German speaker was simply not sufficient to be a good translator.

My few experiences with translating documents from French or English into German seemed to prove me right as I had the impression that this was a pretty lengthy and tedious process. On the other hand, it made me increasingly curious what translators like about their work and business and why translating or interpreting is not a boring job for them at all.

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Building an Audience with Social Media – Beginners Guide

This is the second post in my little social media series for beginners and today I would like to share some hints with you on how to build an audience for your personal or your company blog or maybe even for your institution.

From the previous post you have learned (that’s my hope at least) that a social media presence covers different platforms that each have a distinct public and that user engagement has to be meaningful and consistent.

After having your different profiles set up and filled in the next question now is how to actually build your audience and we’ll split it into the different platforms again.

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Kirstradamus: Babelverse brings Personal Interpreters

I know, I predicted that kind of business model somewhere before, either in one of my posts or in a comment. It was definitely in the discussion string about “Google Translate: The End of the Road for Interpreters?” which then left this blog to Skype, email, Twitter and also got a spin off in my post about the “24/7 Teacher Cloud or the Learning Help Desk“.

Anyway, somewhere along the line I predicted that someone will sooner or later offer a cloud based service with personal interpreters I could simply call via my mobile phone instead of using the Google Translate Conversation Mode. Something similar to the Premium Fan Page model which lets me choose whether I want to have a machine translated version of my website or prefer a translation done by a professional interpreter.

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EDUKWEST Ep. 59 with Jesse Maddox of TripLingo

I’m particularly happy to share the newest EDUKWEST with you all today as it covers a new new trend that is manifesting itself in online education. What we got out as one of the important results of that recent busuu study is the motivation why people want to invest time and effort in learning a language and that is for travel.

TripLingo is one of the first startups of this new wave of language learning and traveling. TripLingo is based of the initial idea of founder and CEO Jesse Maddox back in the days he was traveling and working in Asia and was then shaped at Startup Weekend Atlanta where he also found his team.

Read more and watch the Interview on EDUKWEST →

R:ED May 1st to May 7th 2011

Bill Gates Takes On Education’s Biggest Bureaucratic Beast With Video Games – “As states scramble to understand new educational standards, Gates eyes an opening for video games.” Fast Company

YouTube To Go Beyond Cat Videos By Training a New Class of Vloggers – “YouTube has just announced which members will be inducted into YouTube NextUp and the YouTube Creator Institute, efforts by the video-sharing site to add even more polish to its content.” Mashable

Why College Is Not A Bubble (Except For The University Of Phoenix) – “[…] in reality, demand for an American-style college education, and the long-term value of said degree, is unlikely to decline any time soon.” Fast Company

Openmargin Lets The World See Your Book-Margin Scribbles – “A public digital forum in every book is the Dutch startup Openmargin’s aim. It even thinks it can make money at it.” Fast Company

Study: Kindles Aren’t Quite All That With The Kids On Campus – “Researchers at the University of Washington have found that, while useful, Kindles (specifically that larger Kindles DX) aren’t all that popular with students – yet.” CrunchGear

Grovo: Video Training Platform Grabs Funding To Help Startups Educate Their Users – “Grovo positioned itself as an online education and training platform to enable Web users to find and learn how to use the Web’s most-frequented sites (and vice versa) — beginning with sites like Twitter, Mint, and Amazon.” TechCrunch

Responsibly Matches Your Gifting With A Donation To Education – “responsibly allows you to choose the specific education project you’d like to donate to, and 50% of the original proceeds of every gift purchased will go to the school, matched by another 50% of corporate sponsorship via Donor’s Choose.” TechCrunch

TV Ownership Drops for the First Time Since 1992 [REPORT] – “In a report released Tuesday, Nielsen estimated the number of U.S. households with TVs to be 114.7 million, down from 115.9 million in 2010 — a decline to 96.7% from 98.9%.” Mashable

Mapping the New Age of Augmented Travel – “Ever wanted to travel back in time to your favorite city and imagine how it actually existed hundreds of years ago? Or hear the stories of a city’s residents in their own words while going for a stroll through historical neighborhoods?” Big Think

P2P Learning Startup Skillshare Gets $550,000 From Founder Collective and SV Angel – “Skillshare is a community where people can offer classes to other members. People sign up online, and meet in person for real classes for everything from how to bake cupcakes to how to get startup funding.” TechCrunch

The University Has No Clothes – “The notion that a college degree is essentially worthless has become one of the year’s most fashionable ideas, with two prominent venture capitalists (Cornell ’89 and Stanford ’89, by the way) leading the charge.” New York Magazine

Babbel and busuu expand their Offers, Livemocha nears 10 million Members

As there have been a couple of smaller updates and news around the three language learning communities recently, I thought I might as well combine them in one blog post to give you a quick overview on the current state of affairs.

So, here we go.
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No free Lunch but free Starters – TeachStreet Basic Listings

About a year ago TeachStreet took a quite radical step and switched the freemium model into premium only for teachers. I amongst others saluted Dave Schappell and the team for this move.

Today Dave posted an update on the TeachStreet blog, announcing that the basic listing on the platform will be switched to free again. On the other hand the “Teacher Request” feature will become part of the paid services on TeachStreet.

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Monday Roundup: Delicious, and Square

In this week’s MRU we take a look at three of my favorite services, two of them got acquired and one got some serious traction.

Hence we will take a look at Delicious which was sold from Yahoo to the YouTube founders, got acquired by RIM and Square that got some love from Apple and Visa.

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Award on Social Media Use in Formal Language Teaching Contexts

Are you a language teacher in Europe and do you happen to use social media tools in your curriculum?

If this is the case, you can join a competition hosted by the European network “Language Learning and Social Media – 6 Key Dialogues” and use your skills to win 1000 € to spend on technical equipment for your classroom!

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