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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Interview with Ashleigh Lincoln, Ultralingua: Innovators in E-Learning Series

What role can online dictionaries play in e-learning? Finding just the right word to use, or understanding the true meaning of a word is often a matter of context as well as denotative meaning. Dictionaries can fall short because they do not always adequately present the full spectrum of meaning(s), and they are not flexible enough to engage deep learning. To offer a solution, Ultralingua combines technology with a philosophy of rich context and situated learning to build language knowledge and skills. Because Ultralingua offers monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, they support communication across cultures and nationalities. Welcome to an interview with Ashleigh Lincoln, Ultralingua. 

1. What is your name and your relation to elearning?
Ashleigh Lincoln, marketing and communications coordinator. E-learning embodies what our company, Ultralingua, is all about. We provide accurate, simple and accessible education on the web.

2.  What is Ultralingua? What does it do?  What makes it special?
Ultralingua is a software company that makes monolingual and bilingual dictionaries for people who love languages. Our dictionaries come with advanced reference and learning tools, developed to address the verb conjugation, vocabulary memorization, and grammatical challenges language learners face. Ultralingua is not your average software company. We have a passion for making easy and accurate software that people love to use. We take every user comment seriously, and use feedback to make Ultralingua dictionaries the best they can be.
3.  What are the learning theories that underlie the instructional strategy of Ultralingua?
 At Ultralingua, we believe technology can be a great asset to language learners, as long as they pick tools to help them learn rather than shortcuts to get around the challenge of learning. If a language learner is motivated to learn a new language, they already have taken the first necessary step. We aim to make our dictionaries the ultimate reference tool for people who are committed to learning a language and have the motivation necessary to learn a new language. Our software contains multiple translations with context and usage examples so learners can distinguish between word choices themselves.
4.  How effective is the strategy that you use? Is Ultralingua equally effective with everyone? What are the conditions that are required for learning to be optimal?
Language learners need context in order to choose the right word, and our dictionaries were designed to make that context accessible. Ultralingua is effective because we include so many additional tools and resources with our dictionaries. We believe the key to learning a new language this day in age, is balancing technology with teacher and native speaker interaction. If the learner has that fundamental motivation, and possesses an app like Ultralingua to use as a reference on them at all times, they have a recipe for success.
5.  Who has used Ultralingua? Do you have any examples?
Generally our users are people in the process of learning one or more languages. These users vary from students in high school language classes, graduate and undergraduate college students majoring or minoring in a language, teachers and professors, students and workers abroad, bilingual people, language translators, homeschoolers, and self-language learners.
Ultralingua actively communicate with the Ultralingua users and have been fortunate enough to interview a handful of them. Our users vary across the world from a farmer from California who needed to improve his Spanish speaking abilities, to an Esperanto-speaking world traveler, to a young man studying abroad in France needing a fast and easily-accessible bilingual dictionary. To check out some of their stories, visit our blog at
6.  What are your plans in the future? 
We just completed a complete redesign of our two most popular products: Ultralingua for iOS and Ultralingua online dictionary.
The new Ultralingua dictionary 2.0 is equipped with a new design, a “favorite” feature, for users to mark entries to remember or save for later, and as well as grammar references with answers to hundreds of usage and syntax questions for the Ultralingua 2.0 dictionary for mobile devices.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Interview with Mike Sommer, Digital Backpack, Innovators in E-Learning Series

The beauty of mobile learning is that it allows you to access content any time, anywhere. However, there can be a few bumps in the road. It can be very tedious to download content in a way that allows you to listen or view the material, even if you're not online. In addition, downloading can be cumbersome if you have to go through several different apps and portals. If you're enrolled in an online program, your downloads may take quite a bit or time, and you could probably benefit from a streamlined way to access your course materials. Further, you may wish to take courses from several universities at the same time for a complete list of online accredited colleges, many of them requiring multiple apps and digital content.

Welcome to an interview with Mike Sommer, who, with the team at Digital Backpack, has developed an integrated function / Mobile Application Management (MAM) for downloading, access, storage.

1. What is your name and company affiliation?
 Mike Sommer, CEO of Digital Backpack.

2.  What is Digital Backpack?  How does it work?
Digital Backpack helps your organization capitalize on mobile freedom by providing you with an efficient and secure way to share, manage, and upload company-branded private apps and digital content on to your audience’s devices. We do this by focusing on managing content and not the device through a super app called the Backpack.

Designed to be easy to use, scalable, and efficient, we connect businesses with employees and school administrators with students through a Mobile Application Management (MAM) platform called the Backpack.

The Backpack is a secure “super app” that sits on a mobile device – whether it’s a smartphone or tablet, and powered by iOS or Android. Through an online, cloud-based Dashboard, an administrator can upload, manage, and share apps and digital content right to the Backpack using push technology. You’ll even get detailed analytics that will show you how the content you’re publishing is being used.

3.  What can Digital Backpack be used for ? what kinds of files?  Does it interface with iTunes and other digital repositories such as Amazon?
Within the client Dashboard we are able to manage, push, remove Audio, Video, Flash, and PDF documents.

Instead of integrating with third party stores like iTunes and Amazon for digital resources like audio, video and other documents we provide your own private network that you have full control over.

4.  How can Digital Backpack be used in conjunction with e-learning?
Coming from an Online Learning background we understand the importance of SCROM based courses for tracking student results. Since Android allows for the use of Flash we are not only able to leverage content within LMS systems yet we can also allow e-learning experts to push flash based lessons right into a students Backpack.

5.  I have a Windows phone and an iPhone.  Will Digital Backpack work with them?
Our infrastructure is designed to roll out to a variety of devices as the market evolves and matures. Our next release will include iOS and as Windows 8 gains market share we will look to build a Backpack for these devices also.

6.  What do you think is the future of mobile content?  Will there be more or less?
I believe that the future of mobile will be more of a concierge service. Instead of 200 apps on each device and a one size fits all to corporate app deployment I see focused and user specific material being delivered as it is needed.

With the ability to push and then remove digital content the end user can have relevant and timely information available at the right time vs all the information all the time.  As digital technology evolves we are able to store more and more information in the palm of our hands and in essence our digital devices are cluttered. We believe that when you have a managed Backpack that holds relevant information at the time you need it you are more likely to use it.

To use the analogy of a hiker. You do not carry a full loaded suitcase with you that has everything in it when you are going for an afternoon day hike. The same is with mobile content. Take what you need and leave the rest behind. You can always access it if you need to but it should not be the focus of your day.

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