Monthly Archives: November 2014


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.