Fabula: Bilingual Storybook Creator/Reader Based on Mozilla
Thursday April 20th, 2000
Mozilla isn't a platform? Mozilla shouldn't be a platform? Just check out Fabula, the bilingual storybook creator/reader built on a Mozilla foundation. Using Mozilla, the Fabula team is creating an easy to use story creation tool that creates an XML-formatted story file which can be played in the Fabula reader (also built on the Mozilla platform). The stories can use pictures, text, and sounds to convey stories to students. Each page has text in two languages, and in the sample story provided, each page also has audio files that accompany the bilingual text. It is still in a very prototype stage, but it's impressive. What's even more impressive is that Fabula has already been used by a group of 8-10 year old students in the Basque country in Southwest France to create a bilingual story called "The Cat that Barked".
From the Fabula website:
"For many bilingual children, the opportunity to see their own stories created and displayed in Fabula software may also represent the first time they have seen the languages of their own communities presented within a high-status computer environment... "
Mozilla is an ideal platform for this kind of work. With Unicode support throughout the app, not only can the program display text accurately, but the entire app can be localized to meet the needs of its users. Mozilla's solid XML, HTML, and CSS support, along with XUL, opens up a new world for application developers.
Fabula is currently being funded by the European Commission through the Educational Multimedia Taskforce.
#6 Language instruction program
Friday April 21st, 2000 7:33 AM
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I've been working for a while on a program in Java which is an adaptation of a linguistics professor's "Beginning Indonesian Through Self Instruction" textbook series. It is an electronic adaptation of the textbooks, with audio, video, images, interactive exercises, etc. This is basically a quick and dirty (but nicely done!) Java application designed specifically for this textbook. What I have been dreaming about for a while is the ability to entirely generalize this application so /ANY/ language could be tought in a very flexible manner (of formats other than this series). With a data store of XML, XSL stylesheets for rendering, and some scripting for interaction, a completely generalized language (or anything I suppose) tutorial CBT program could be created. A "data store" would also allow the possibility of creating a /non-linear/ learning tract. The data store would simply consist of many "points" or "topics", at varying knowledge levels, which would could be strung together in any manner, or adapted to the user! The roadblock I run into though, is that exercises and presentation of material varies so wildy that it would be very hard to come up with some primitives that could be used in the program ("multiple choice activity", "grammar section", etc.). Which would mean there would be a lot of need for messy scripting glue to do exactly what you wanted. But the potential is certainly there.