Word Carrot is LearnAhead’s first iPhone app published on the app store on 5 January 2012. It’s a free app with 90 words and will soon be updated to enable learners to buy more words through in-app purchase. We will then release a US English version, and an iPad version, though the current version also works on iPad. In the longer term we hope to publish for Android and in other languages. The accompanying website has articles and free worksheets that teachers can use for teaching the word sets featured in the apps.
My Guardian Weekly article on the opportunity that mobile devices offer for graded readers is available in today’s issue. In the article I review the OUP “Bookworm” iPhone/iPad apps and discuss the opportunities and challenges that publishers face in making mobile versions of their graded reader titles.
I’m greatly looking forward to my mobile learning presentation this weekend for the IATEFL Learning Technology SIG, see details on their web page. I will report on a survey of language learning apps carried out with Paul Sweeney, and the features that we liked and those we didn’t and describe how I have applied this learning in two mobile app projects that I am working on.
The first is an arcade style iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad vocabulary learning game called Word Carrot that I have been working on the past few months with three colleagues in our new company, LearnAhead Ltd. The app will appear on the Apple App store in early January 2012.
A year ago I posted an article on this site that was critical of the entries for the Duke of Edinburgh’s “President’s Award” for innovation and good design in digital materials for English language learning. I was a judge again this year, and I suppose the answer to my question above is “yes, they are somewhat better, but nowhere near good enough”. The winner was Cambridge English Online’s Phonetics Focus app, which we felt was a great tool for teachers and learners to learn the Phonemic alphabet, with a clear and attractive user interface and visual design. There were some other interesting entries, though we felt a couple were not quite finished enough for us to consider and we have contacted their developers to explain this. Otherwise, we were relieved to see some mobile apps, albeit of variable quality, though surprised to see CDROMS, even for entries that were web-based.
It’s a year since I started Constellata and I have been using this anniversary to reflect further on the growing area of mobile learning.
This is a fast changing area and there are no definitive answers, and my views are likely to change during my company’s second year of trading.