As you can see from the paucity of entries below, I’ve been busy on other things this year, notably working on Word Carrot with my LearnAhead colleagues. You can see here my recent interview with Sophie O’Rourke from emc design on the Book Machine blog. We had a great discussion in the coffee bar of the British Library last week, talking about the development of Word Carrot and the challenges we have faced as a new and unknown publisher against 700,000 other apps in the Apple App Store. Word Carrot is doing well, we’ve had well over 50,000 downloads of the UK and US versions in the past three months, people are using and updating it and buying more levels.
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.