This is the first of what I plan to be a monthly update on progress and happenings in the Wikiotics project. Hopefully it will help keep everyone involved aware of the work that others are doing. If you have anything to add, just reply-to-all on this email. Or, in the future, send me an email by the end of any given month and I will include it in the next update.
Audio in lessons
January marked the arrival of audio in picture-choice lessons. Ian has added audio phrases to half the frames in the introductory English lesson. You will only hear audio if you are using a browser that supports HTML5.
We still need more lessons, both in English and in other languages. (I particularly advocate the building of English lessons, as this allows people to translate to other languages easily, since most people building lessons on Wikiotics at this point will know at least some English. Indeed, I was very happy to wake up one day late in December to realize that a user named ‘rouklia’ had translated all of the existing English lessons to Greek :).) My plan lately has been to start with one goal the picture-choice lesson format is specifically good at: helping to build vocabulary of nouns that are easily visualized. Inspired by the page at http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Basic_English_picture_wordlist, I have been working on building a lesson that incorporates many ‘picturable’ English nouns. My work (in progress) is available here. Feel free to fork and improve this lesson if you wish.
Ian and I will be exhibiting at SCALE 9x in Los Angeles, which takes place on February 26 and 27 this year. We will have a machine or two set up to demo the language lessons we have built so far, and we hope to try to raise awareness about the project. If you are around, please stop by. More information is available at the SCALE site.
The main goal for development in the near future is to improve the experience of editing lessons. Hopefully some of this work will be ready by the time we exhibit at SCALE.
Our of our major challenges is to build a community of volunteers who will help us build lessons and the software that supports the site. With this in mind, I pass on an excellent article recently discussed on the FLOSS-Foundations mailing list, which includes much good advice. Although it focuses on software contributors, I think the points mentioned hold true for any contributors to a project: http://www.codesimplicity.com/post/open-source-community-simplified/
$2 billion available for CC-licensed education resources
Creative Commons recently announced that the U.S. government will grant $2 billion toward the development of career training programs in community colleges. The government is also requiring all new learning materials made under the grants to be available under CC-BY. There’s probably no /direct/ way we can get involved in this action, but it is a good thing to be aware of, particularly if we can get involved with language teachers at eligible institutions. I have not had much time to look into the details of the program myself, but more information is available in a blog post from CC at the Creative Commons project blog.