Friday, October 03, 2008

Interview with Christopher Chang, LexDex - flash cards for cell phone or online

Welcome to an interview with a mobile learning innovator, Christopher Chang, cofounder of LexDex. LexDex ( has developed a new approach to flash card learning, which is ideal for mobile applications. We chose to focus on this application because new releases of cell phones and handheld devices mean that mobile learning will continue to move forward as applications are developed that work across platforms, devices, and interfaces.

1. What are LexDex's flash cards?
LexDex is a fresh take on the flash cards of generations past. We've taken those annoying and heavy stacks of easy to lose flash cards and turned them into digital flash cards that you can study online or on your phone. We cover many language subjects aside from Mandarin (Chinese), such as Spanish, French, Swahili, etc, but also others such as economics, art history, and anthropology. Our growing database has well over 500 textbooks. LexDex is in beta testing and is free to use.

2. How can they be downloaded on cell phones? What do you use? (flash? quicktime?)
They can be downloaded anywhere in the world through an sms link that we send to your cell phone or they can be downloaded to your desktop and transferred to your phone by USB.

3. Are they text only?
Currently we do not have sound or video in the flash cards application. The flash cards are primarily text, but are interactive. Users can flip and switch, shuffle, and even remove words when they've become confident with the stack.
4. One critique of flashcards is that they are not very effective if the instructional design of a program has not integrated them in a way that helps achieve the desired outcomes.

How does LexDex respond to that critique?
LexDex will not be limited to flash cards. Studying through applications on the cell phone is a new concept to grasp, and an introductory application like flash cards which has been around for ages makes it easier to understand and take in. Several other games and study tools to learn vocabulary have already been or are being developed as we speak.

Furthermore LexDex is not here to replace school textbooks. LexDex supplements students' study routines, adding convenience and ease of use. We have prepared study guides and vocabulary lists that can be learned through our flash card application or on through many soon to become educational, yet fun games.

To answer your question however, we believe flash cards work for all learning styles.

For the Visual, they are seeing the card. For the Verbal, they can read the cards out loud. The bodily/kinesthetic can use LexDex Mobile Flash Cards on their cell phones and move and walk as they read the cards. In the near future (next semester), users will be able to input their own cards. Musical/rhythmic learners can dance and sing the answers. If you don't like to study in noisy areas, then you read quietly and just hear your own voice in your head. Here is a website that goes into more detail.

5. What is the state of online education in China? Would you say that the Chinese private sector is active in developing elearning solutions that the world can use? Please list three or four examples.
LexDex, although based in Shanghai(China), is targeting college students in the United States in a range of subjects. The online education market is booming in China, however must of the players are foreign companies, such as Chinesepod, English First, and Mando Mandarin. All three design their own course content and private one and one web-tutoring. The private sector is not active in developing elearning solutions as far as I know. If you did not ask this question under the belief that we were developing for the Chinese market and would still like more info on this subject, then please let me know through email.
As far as LexDex is concerned, we are confident we can become big players in the elearning market because our known competitors are either strictly top down (tied to the institution) or bottom up (content generated by students). LexDex will connect the two together.

The problem with companies that implement the top down model is that the school and then the teachers have to approve it. This results in an experience for the student that is completely dependent upon that of the teacher. If there are study tools or services provided that the teacher does not like, then the students never have access to it. is an example of this. The content does not directly reach the students.

With the bottom up model, all the input is generated by users or students. and are examples of bottom up. The problem here is that students need to rely on other people's content to get good grades that may determine their future. They will have no idea if the content is correct or if it includes all the words in the chapter. Some of these companies create their own content, and this would require a demographic of procrastinators to go above and beyond to find content that is relevant to what they are studying. The ideal situation is to be tied to the institution but reach the students directly, and that is what LexDex does.

The future of LexDex is also very promising. Let's make a comparison to the Music industry and mp3s. They were all fragmented, having pockets of music here and there. Most users didn't want to go to the trouble of going to five or six different websites to DL a few songs. Then came iTunes along and standardized the price of each song and made it convenient for users to find all the songs the wanted in the same place.

It's a similar situation with education. You have individual publishers with websites or CDs made specifically for a textbook. These tools have lots of value and students who use them rate them as very useful, however, they don't want to go to several places to access these study tools for each book. LexDex wants to consolidate this market and bring everything under one roof. When this happens, the possibilities are endless.

Study groups, user-input, calendars, and many more functions can be designed.
a. links to lexdex and different views of the product
b. graphics illustrating lexdex - the bottom of the page has 4 screens - scroll over the questions and screen shots will pop out.
Interested in the archive for the Webinar that Ken Molay and Susan Nash held? Click here :)

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