An open-source typeface family for all the world’s languages

Google and Monotype have collaborated to bring us a new typeface that can represent every known language.

One of the aims of the Noto project is to digitally preserve little-spoken or dead languages to help enable global communication “across borders, languages, cultures and time periods”. It also includes letters in multiple serif and sans serif styles in up to eight weights, as well as numbers, symbols and musical notations.

Noto font sample



Let’s face it, learning a new language is a long and often painful process. Developing anything near a native-like competence requires years of study and practice.

Smigen, a new app available for the iPhone allows you to construct simple stock phrases in 12 languages. The clever part is not what the app does but what it doesn’t do.

From the developers website:
We’ve created a system that uses the most simple, grammar-friendly approach possible. We only use words that don’t require any verb changes … ever.

Here’s the thing. There are a small number of words, which if used, allow you to build a phrase without worrying about correct verb endings and other grammar stuff. Verbs and grammar are hard work. Instead, we created a really simple tool so you don’t have to worry about grammar. You just make your phrase.

Smigen is available now on the Apple App Store.

How we learn and how technology designers think we learn

It still amazes me that most of the interventions and pilot studies I read up on fail to discuss the use of learning technology as a smaller cog in a larger machine. Little attention is given to how the introduction of new technology into existing educational institutions can bring about change, let alone what those changes (good or bad) may be. Perhaps more curious is that few researchers capitalize on the often pedagogically rich relationships that exist between teachers and students or even students and students.

This is one of the problems highlighted in a recent post by Annie Murphy Paul:
Most people are not autodidacts. In order to learn effectively, they need guidance provided by teachers. They need support provided by peers. And they need structure provided by institutions. Amid all the effusions about how ed tech will “change the way we learn,” however, these needs rarely merit a mention. Instead we hear about the individual and his app, the person and her platform, as if teachers, classmates and schools were unnecessary and unwelcome encumbrances.

The full article is available at The Hechinger Report.

Oh well…

As you might have guessed, we didn’t win the Contactless Intelligence Mobile Award thingy (I forget the exact name, must be all the excitement). Still, it was nice to be nominated. While the voting took place way back in April, I would still like to thank all of you who voted for us (we know there was quite a few of you). Who knows, maybe we’ll be nominated for something interesting next year?

Every Vote Counts!

One of the projects to come out of the collaboration between Central College (EFL Team) and The LSRI has reached the finals of a prestigious International Mobile Award. We are competing for the Choice Prize that will be awarded to the nominee with the most votes (you know how these things go).

This is where you come in, see that tiny – wee link at the bottom of this post? Well, Click on it and vote for us without hesitation. It will only take a second (ok perhaps a wee bit more than a second but certainly no longer than it took for you to read this sentence. And certainly less now that I’ve added another sentence).

Anyway, thanks for your support 🙂

Central / LSRI reaches Mobile Award Final

The Central College Nottingham / LSRI (University of Nottingham) NFC mobile learning project has reached the finals of the Contactless & Mobile Awards (CMA) 2014.  This mobile learning project is using Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to support EFL learners and is one of 4 finalists in the Contactless and Mobile Awards 2014 (Public Domain Category).

The sponsors of the CMA 2014 include Visa Europe and Samsung. The theme of the award this year is ‘Learning from Experience’ and is open to all organisations who implemented successful contactless applications regardless of geographic region or size of corporation. 13% of the competitors are based in the UK, 39% based in mainland Europe, and 48% from the rest of world.  The winners will be decided by a panel of 11, including judges from Visa Europe, the European Commission and GSMA. The results of the competition will be revealed at an event in London on 29 April 2014.

The Central / LSRI project has had notable success in designing innovative learning activities and has gained considerable amount of recent attention from organisations which promote new technology in education.  In January, the mobile learning project was presented at the British Council’s flagship Innovation seminar in London attended by government officials and educational advisors from many countries.  This February Jisc provided the project with additional innovation funding to embed, enhance and package the project outcomes to the FES sector.

Simon Wardman FIfL

For more information:

NFC in Education

Near Field Communication (NFC)

Mobile Awards (CMA website).

The CMA 2014 finalists are here!

JISC blog about our work

The folks at JISC were kind enough to publish an extended post on their blog covering some of our recent work exploring the use of mobile technology in English Language Learning. Sadly, the editors watered down our original writing to focus more on the use of NFC technology, jettisoning much of the theory that drives our work. You can read the article is available over at the Jisc Blog.

Mobile Learning Webinar: Insight 2013

JISC RSC East Midlands Summer Conference

We have been invited by the JISC RSC East Midlands team to participate in their summer conference called Insight 2013. The JISC conference will be delivering staff development using ‘Flipped Learning’ techniques.

As for our part, we will be providing a 45 minute webinar on our recent JISC sponsored mobile learning project using Near Field Communications (NFC) in contextual learning. Our webinar should be of interest to teachers and education managers interested in Mobile Learning and current BYOD initiatives. Insight 2013 is primarily aimed at those working in the Further Education & Skills and Higher Education sectors.

Our webinar is free to attend for JISC supported providers. We will be online with the Blackboard collaboration platform on Friday, 21 June from 10:00 to 10:45
Book Here

We will also be hosting a follow up, face-to-face workshop on the 25th and 26th of June 2013, providing hands-on activities using Mobile Technologies.


John McWhorter recently gave a Ted Talk on text speak. I’m not usually a fan of the TED presentation format yet I thought John pulled off an informative talk without resorting to the usual hyperbole. What really grabbed me was the notion that language snobs have existed for almost as long as language itself. Overly anal Grammarians take note, text-speak is just a recent change in a long history of changes to the English language. LOL indeed.

Creating Video using Mobile Technology

This week we started a video project with our EFL Business English Students. We are planning to run our project in our 1.5 hr session on Thursday over 5 weeks.

 the storyboard

The ‘flipped’ classroom has been increasing in pace across the further and higher education sector. The idea behind the flipped classroom is that most of the input of a lesson can be delivered using video to save time so more practical work can be done in class. One challenge with the approach is to engage learners in the delivery of the video input. One objective of our project is to involve our learners in the video creation process and create a video to inform teachers of new educational technology. The idea of the learners creating instructional resources would certainly add another dimension to the concept of ‘flipped’ learning.

Our video project will give our language learners the opportunity to:
1. Define the aims and objectives of the video clip
2. Create storyboards and construct collaborative scripts
3. Rehearse and film (2 sessions)
4. Edit and publish the final product

The fifth post will discuss the teacher training opportunities available across Europe. Let us know how you are integrating video creation into your language courses!