20 Minutes of Passion and Panache!

aac4ac4a-558a-474e-b9cd-b66f903f6b9fFrom the moment I caught my first personal videocast oration, I have been a big fan of TED—Technology Entertainment Design. It takes a lot of panache and passion to put your beliefs on the line for 20 minutes in hopes of moving a captive audience.  These lecture type informational talks share the speakers’ deep interests, drives personal and professional perspectives of  their “ideas that are worth spreading”.   TED has now enhanced this experience both cognitively and digitally with TED’s version 2.0 iOS application which allows you to connect that stream of information to your “i” device and all the connective learning conveniences that go with them.

“With this release, TED is the largest content provider to use iOS6′s new subtitle featureon its streaming video service” (TED, 2013) which offers 90 subtitled TED Talks at last count. This is a huge step for learners’ with hearing impairments. Similarly, the app for android devices has the same extensive range of informative videos from some of the most inspiring thinkers of our time. This makes it an excellent channel for augmenting educational applications.  “TED’s mobile app helps users get information for themselves and makes learning an easy, every day, on-the-go activity… In this way, mobile devices and apps open us up to learning when we otherwise couldn’t, in the spaces between daily tasks” tasks”  (Hornshaw, 2013).

For educators, connecting your mobile device to a projector or large screen television and you have easily transformed your training facility or classroom new-ted-iosinto an educational theatre that could effectively simulate being part of the actual audience. Engagement levels are bound to increase! The convenience of having a source of 1400 talks at your fingertips is globally smart–the point being, 1400 talks represent 1400 personal perspectives! In a globalized environment, staying informed and connecting diverse learners and thinkers from all different parts of the world provides a window into the many ways that we are culturally distinct and culturally compatible. It pens up new visual, acoustic, cognitive and create dimensions that are essential to the domains of enriched intercultural communication and global leadership.                      Tedstaff (2013). [Screenshot]. 

twohundredTake this one step farther by incorporating Mac’s iTranslate Voice and you have a hassle free and simple way to connect to speakers of other languages! Their voice input–output and voice recognition features do all the work for you. With over 40+ language working for you, language anxiety just met its match. Add the convenience of the dictionary and the tap response pasting, speaking or sharing features and you have  just connected your learning into one easy platform.   With the added AirTranslate feature, it gives you the additional ability to connect two devices running iTranslate Voice for synchronous conversation in different languages (iTranslate Voice, 2013).

best_trans_itranslate_voice_screens_iphone                          Figure 1: Kasmucha, A., (2013)www.imore.com [Screenshot].

Does this accelerate or stagnate learning?  In my opinion, language learning is about imitation and the easier we can make it for the learner, the faster the acquisition.  If you consider the pronunciation and vocabulary verifications, both learners and teachers  have opened up the classroom to a plethora of study and learning possibilities. After all, it is about using media to interact with content differently and not just as new vehicles for delivery (Low, 2009).  “Outside of a decent interface that’s just as easy to use as it is to look at, you can also tap on words to see their meanings and different forms” (Kazmucha, 2013).  Check out the videostream of instant translation in action: http://www.itranslateapp.com/



Hornshaw P., (2013). TED and other pioneers in mobile app education. http://www.appolicious.com/tech/articles/13211-ted-and-other-pioneers-in-mobile-app-education

iTranslate (2013). http://itranslatevoice.com/

Kasmucha, A., (2013). Best translation apps for iPhone: Languages, iTranslate Voice, Google Translate, and more!http://www.imore.com/best-translation-apps-iphone-languages-itranslate-voice-google-translate-and-more

Low, L (2009). The genie in the bottle: unleashing the hidden power of personal mobile devices for learning. University of Canberra.

Tedstaff, (2013). TED’s updated iOS app offers faster speed and streaming subtitles


A Case for Mentally Ground Breaking Learning

Schermafbeelding (9)                 Photo 1: VoiceThread (2012). [Screen Shot].

My internet travels have led me to a fascinating multimedia application that is highly effective from both a learner and educator perspective. Mental Case is a study application that is designed to make learning not only more efficient, but a multimedia experience. It uses your notes like flashcards that can take the form of text, visuals, video, audio clips and combines them into study presentations. You can create your own or download pre-made flashcards from sites like Flashcard exchange or Quizlet. 

Schermafbeelding (7)                   Photo 2:  Mental Case (2012). [Screen Shot].

The study presentations are based on your preferred learning selections: Q& A, multiple choice, reversible note, simple note, or translation which make learning far from rote! It expands these presentations with related lesson and feedback activities that allow you to assess your own learning process.  You can also set the learning pace to meet your needs and preferred learning style with options that vary from long-term, target deadlines, short-term cramming, intermittent or unscheduled study. For ESL learning applications, there are amazing self-directed learning possibilities.

The flashcard is no longer just a visual cue reference. It allows you to imbed image files to accompany the new word or grammar prompt or audio files for pronunciation.  You can even incorporate video clips for enhanced learning references like the socio-cultural aspects of language learning rendering the flashcard a more complete learning activity. This functionality sets it apart as one of the most innovative of learning apps. The easy drag and drop tool for image files, built-in features like iSight camera and screenshots provide rich learning experiences. It really has thought through the learning methodology as TÚAW (2013) remarks that “education is deeply imbued in the Apple DNA”.

mentalcasestats                             Photo 3: VoiceThread (2013).[ Screen Shot].

Are there are any drawbacks? If you are not a Mac fan or owner, well then this is app is not for you.  It is specifically designed as a Mac app that can sync between iPhone, iPad, iTouch and desktop for 29.99 US at the Mac store or free with iTunes. What that includes is free access to the massive Flashcard Exchange libraries which normally require paid access outside this app.  Thus, it is another score for Mac and intriguing way to extend the learning curve for the ipad generation. “Mental Case is a well-designed application that would definitely benefit many who need to learn heaps of new information” (Bennet, 2012). http://www.mentalcaseapp.com/


Since we are on the Mac bandwagon, I would be negligent if I did not talk about all the rage surrounding VoiceThread as an educational tool. Digital storytelling is becoming a standard part of the 21st century skill set for educators and students.  It requires learners to consider the message they wish to convey through all digital narrative creative components and process: meaningful audio soundtrack, image quality, economy of detail, grammar and language use, video and additional multimedia elements relative the intended goal (University of Houston, 2013). In addition to digital and information literacy skills, the power of this form of storytelling is its ability to inspire learners to share, be accountable and engage in meaningful dialogue about their work and the contribution of others.

Presence                                           Photo 4: VoiceThread (2012).[ Screen Shot].

Mac’s highly touted digital storytelling application is Voice Thread (VT). This is a simple way to introduce learners to the value and art of learning through exchanging our narratives about the world we live in. It allows the learner to incorporate image or video files directly from your mobile device or library as narrative input or annotative feedback. The difference is that learners can engage with the content through thumbnail size video clips of the speaker and others in a continuous conversation and feedback process providing a multisensory learning experience. “VoiceThread takes your conversations to the next level, capturing your presence, not just your comments… and invites others to learn and contribute to the conversation via their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC” (University of Houston, 2013) wherever they have access to the internet.

The possibilities for ESL or intercultural communication include a more interactive experience that taps into varied learning styles by capturing the gestures, tone and inflection of voice attached to real people.  Learners and educators can engage in real conversations that extend across countries and cultures. Open each thumbnail comment as they are added to hear and see what participants are saying in a more complete communication exchange.

The basic limited account is free and it may be enough to get you started with simple video creation and commenting. The possibility for analytics feedback is also available, but you will need to upgrade to an institutional or business license which will cost you depending on the type of support and user needs.  “More than 25% of the top Universities in the U.S. use VoiceThread to connect and communicate around digital media” (VoiceThread, 2013). http://voicethread.com/

analytics                          Photo 5: VoiceThread (2013). [Screen Shot].



Bennet, H., (2012). Appstorm: Study More Efficiently with Mental Case.


Bush, L (2009). Viva VoiceThread: Integrating a Web 2.0 Tool in the Additional Language Classroom. In I. Gibson et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2009. (pp. 3247-3250).

Mental Case (2012). Mental Case, The study app [Photo 1,2 & 3]. http://www.mentalcaseapp.com/

The Unoffical Apple Weblog (2013). Mental Case reinvents the flashcard. http://www.tuaw.com/2009/08/15/mental-case-reinvents-the-flash-card

Voice Thread (2013). iTunes preview. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/voicethread/id465159110?mt=8