Monday, 17 November 2008

Language Learning through Communal Video

LangoLAB is a great new slant on language learning through social networks. It combines the power of YouTube type video sharing with social networking and adds a few great tools that enable users to create their own vocabulary flashcards, comprehension questions, transcripts and share general comments.

What's more, it's not just for English, so it's leveraging the power a much larger and more linguistically and culturally diverse community.

There's quite a variety of videos to choose from and if you register you can add your own using a webcam, upload or embedding from YouTube. The videos that have been added have transcripts that appear under the video as they play and that are broken down into sections at the side if you click to see the transcript. (There's a tutorial on their blog here showing how to upload a video)

As you watch you can also click on the words from the transcript and get definitions and create your own flashcards with definitions or translations to help you remember and revise the words.

You can also create notes and ask questions about the videos and answer other people's questions. In this way user work together to to negotiate meaning and to help each other understand the content and create learning activities for each other.
Personally I think LangoLAB is a great idea and a wonderful way to learn a language. If the site develops an enthusiastic community, then I think it could be a huge success and provide a really useful tool for people of all languages who want to learn and share.

On the down side, what I can't see is any information on privacy and what they are doing with my personal information, email address etc, so if those issues bother you, then it might be worth staying part of the passive community until this is sorted out. Either way I still think this is a useful tool.

Hope you enjoy it.

Related links:

Nik Peachey


adam said...

Hi Nik, Thanks very much for writing this up in your blog; I discovered it quite by accident while I was googling for langolab. The concern that you raise about privacy seems significant and is honestly something that I haven't thought about a lot before, this being my first startup attempt. The email addresses don't get shared and I just use these for sending out new information about the site once every week or two, and anyone can easily opt out of these mailings by replying to me personally. Aside from email address we just ask for a city and country, for the simple reason that it's cool to see where people are from.

I have a lot of big plans for langolab. For example, please see . You and I seem to think about similar subjects so, if you ever want to talk, please message me. Thanks again for the excellent writeup.

Adam, Langolab founder

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Adam,

I think you have just set a new record for the fastest comment on a posting for my blog!! I only published it about 20 mins before your message arrived.

The issues of privacy and what you do with information / email adresses etc is a huge one for teachers. You'll need to be VERY up front and clear about that if you want teachers to bring their students to the site and register them there. Teachers will need to be sure that their students data and privacy is being protected and that you're not harvesting emails to sell or god knows what else.

At present this is one of the greatest obstacles teachers face with incorporating Web 2.0 type sites into their teaching pracice.

Having some form of abuse reporting is also reasuring, so that they know any potentially obscene or offensive materials that appear can be reported and removed. There's no way to offer total protection, but knowing that site owners have thought this out and are willing to act to help them protect their students will go a long way to helping teachers get their students using what after all is a really useful educational tool.

Good luck and do get in touch if you want an unbiased opinion,


Nik Peachey