Category Archives: schools

Learn2Help Program: Learn a Language and Help Build a Classroom in Cameroon!


It’s always time to give back to the global  community. I love to see opportunities like this one that allow you to help others by learning something new. In this case, by learning a foreign language.

I was told about the Learn2Help program sponsored by Busuu and think you should consider helping this cause. The newsletter about the program follows below.

Help busuu Build a Classroom in Cameroon by Improving Your Own Language Skills

This December, the Learn2Help Program from Busuu Buys Educational Equipment for Underprivileged Students

London, 3 December 2013 – busuu today announces its Learn2Help initiative to help educate children in Cameroon with the ultimate goal of building a classroom to support a local school. In December, the 35 million strong busuu community will help others to learn through its own language learning. As busuu users achieve completed lessons, the company will contribute to the Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child (CAPEC) to buy school supplies and furniture. With enough language learning activity on the website and on busuu’s mobile apps, busuu will reach its highest goal of building an entire classroom for children in Cameroon.

busuu, the company that took its name from the Busuu language of Cameroon, will donate school supplies to the CAPEC  organisation which it has supported for the past few years. Through their school in central Cameroon, CAPEC helps provide an education for children who come from low-income families in the local area. Many of the parents are illiterate and these pupils are often the first generation in their families to receive an education.

It’s free to sign up and participate. The way the program works is that busuu users earn busuu-berries as they complete language lessons on the website and through busuu’s mobile apps. From the 1st through the 21st December 2013, the more busuu-berries earned by the community, the more busuu will contribute to buy school supplies including school stationary, textbooks, furniture and classrooms for the students. For example:

  • 35 million busuu-berries will help busuu provide the school with stationery like pens and books.
  • 40 million busuu-berries will provide textbooks and exercise books.
  • 45 million busuu-berries will allow busuu to donate furniture to the school.
  • 55 million busuu-berries will allow busuu to donate enough money to build a classroom for the school.

To put this into perspective, the busuu community earns around 1.8 million busuu-berries for completing language lessons every day, and every berry earned will help provide additional supplies for the school. Now is the time to get on busuu and starting learning a language. Everyone in the world deserves an education. Help busuu support CAPEC in their mission to education the children of Cameroon, and treat yourself to the gift of language this December.


About busuu

busuu is the largest social network for language learning, with over 35 million users worldwide. The company offers free and premium paid-for access to audio-visual courses for 12 languages: Spanish, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and English.

Members can improve their language skills through direct interaction with native speakers within the community via an integrated video-chat application and peer-to-peer text corrections. As a result, every user is both a ‘student’ of a foreign language and also a ‘tutor’ of their own mother tongue.

Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti in Madrid founded busuu in early 2008. It was an official UNESCO International Year of Languages project in 2008. The website has received several awards including AlwaysOn Global 250 Winner 2009, Language Label 2009 from the European Commission, CeBIT Innovation Award 2010, Red Herring European Winner 2010 and ‘Best Education Start-up’ at The Europas TechCrunch Awards in 2011.

The company is named after the Busuu language of Cameroon. According to an ethnological study from the 1980’s, Busuu is spoken by only 8 people.


Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-12-06 13:14:35). Learn2Help Program: Learn a Language and Help Build a Classroom in Cameroon!. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 18, 2014, from

Skype in the Classroom

Skype has changed the way I communicate with my family (who lives in Brazil). When I was dating my wife long-distance, in between international trips to see each other, we communicated via instant messaging (Yahoo! Messenger), email, and expensive phone cards. That was mid-2000s, video chat wasn’t available, let alone video chat via mobile devices! Fast forward to 2010, and now Skype offers video calls on the iPhone: and since I’ve been living in the U.S. for years, I can not only talk to my family in Brazil for free but also show them where I live!

Now Skype aims at changing the way the classroom sees the world and interacts with it too.

Skype in the Classroom is a project that wants to connect teachers and students with professionals out there for live video conferencing sessions. It provides an online community that allows teachers to share projects and find people that want to contribute to them. Skype has also partnered with organizations to provide expertise, be it in the form of a quick Q&A with an expert at a certain field, tagging along a professional doing their job, or having an author perform a book reading for students.

Skype in the Classroom also has a Resources section where teachers can share materials and articles to support lessons in a variety of topics. Content, can be searched and filtered by Age Group, Language, Country, and  Category.

Projects can be searched and filtered by age group, language, type of expertise, and category.

This is a great idea to expand the students’ world beyond the walls of the classroom by using a free tool!

Free Full Online Courses by Stanford University – Spring 2012

Several universities world-wide have made their courseware available in different formats over the years. A very popular format is that of podcasts on iTunesU or video lectures on Youtube. See, for instance, this broad list of “free courseware” offerings by major universities. Yale, for example, has made several past lectures available on their Open Yale website. The Open University lets students try course materials for free on their OpenLearn resources page, which. Often, these courses are nothing but pre-recorded videos and audio elements (not full interactive courses) made public by the universities as a form of community outreach (which is already great, don’t get me wrong).

However, Stanford University is blazing trails for open online courseware. Anyone (as long as they understand the recommended prerequisites)can sign up to take some of their courses online, free of charge in the Spring semester of 2012. The courses will consist of live lectures (which can also be see later in an archive), quizzes, and forums in which online students can ask questions.

The current Spring 2012 semester offerings include courses on an eclectic variety subjects ranging from Computer Science to Game Theory, from Anatomy to Linguistics:

Computer Science 101
by Nick Parlante

Software Engineering for Software as a Service (SAAS)
by Armando Fox and David Patterson

Game Theory
by Matthew O. Jackson and Yoav Shoham

Natural Language processing
by Dan Jurafsky and Christopher Manning

Probabilistic Graphical Models
by Daphne Koller

Human-Computer interfaces
by Scott Klemmer

Machine Learning
by Andrew Ng

Technology Entrepreneurship
by Chuck Eesley

The Lean Launchpad
by Steve Blank

by Professor Dan Boneh

Information Theory
by Tsachy (Itschak) Weissman

by Dr. Sakti Sirivastava

Design and Analysis of Algorithms I
by Tim Roughgarden

Making Green Buildings
by Professor Martin Fischer





List adapted from The Rohan Aurora blog.

The 4 R’s of Brainstorming New Ideas

In his free eBook “Designing for the Web”, Mark Boulton suggests a 4R approach to brainstorming ideas for a project. While the eBook is geared toward Web Design, those working as Instructional Designers and educators can also benefit from these tips as creative professionals.

Here are the 4 R’s as presented by Mark.

Revolution is turning an idea on its head. Taking assumptions and reversing or removing them. E.g. A pub has four walls and a roof. What if it didn’t have walls, but still had a roof?

Re–express the idea in a different way or point of view. E.g. What if you were five years old and your parents were buying a booster seat for you. What makes a cool booster seat in your eyes?

Related Worlds:
Think of a related world and use ideas from that world. E.g. Cooking and Gardening. What elements of gardening could be used to sell more recipe books?

Random Links:
Forcing a connection with a random object. E.g. A social networking website and a cactus. Random links often generate ideas which are off brief, but that doesn’t matter. Sometimes, the most truly innovative ideas can come with random links. I’m sure Citroén designers were using Random Links when they decided to make the 2CV look like a snail.”

I would add yet two more R’s of my own:

Sometimes going back to an old concept, a note, a diagram or even just letting an idea sit for while and then reconnecting with it, exploring it further, can produce good results.

When an idea seems to be going south: stop devoting energy to it. Start again from a fresh, new perspective. Go work on another project (if you’re of the multitasking kind) and then come back to the initial point of this project: what is the problem I’m trying to solve?

The ebook can be accessed here:

Uses of the iPhone/iPod/iPad in the Classroom

I came across a short presentation by Grace Poli from Union City High School on The presentaion focuses on practical ways for using the iPod Touch in class, but of courses the uses of all of Apple’s mobile devices are interchangeable most of the time since they have similar technical specifications.

Here are some highlights and resources from the presentation.

Resources and Ideas

  • Apple Learning Interchange –
  • Learning in Hand –
  • iPods in Education Webcast –
  • iPods in Education: The Potential for Language Acquisition – iPod_Lang_Acquisition_whitepaper.pdf

Unexpected Uses of the iPods


1. Train Doctors to Save Lives – American College of Cardiology indicates iPods are used to listen to recorded heart sounds to teach medical students how to better recognize different conditions 2. Bring Criminals to Justice – United States federal district court has started using iPods to hold copies of wiretap transmissions in a large drug-conspiracy case 3. Get Yourself Into Serious Shape – TrailRunner is a free program that helps you plan your route and then loads your iPods with maps, distances, and time goals

4. Tour Around Great Cities – iSubwayMaps lets you download subway maps from 24 major cities across the globe. They range from New York City, Paris, and Berlin to Moscow, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Audio tours of New York and Paris downloard Soundwalk narrated by a celebrity for $12.

5. Calculate the Right Tip – TipKalc helps you figure out the tip and grand total

6. Record Flight data – LoPresti Speed announced plans to use iPods as flight data recorders in light aircrafts (will have the ability to record over 500 hours of flight time data)

7. Throw a Meaner Curveball – Pitcher for the Houston Astros, started using video iPod to review pitching frame by frame to improved overall techniques 8. Learn Foreign Language – University students are using iPods to record lectures, take notes, and even create electronic flash cards 9. Memory Stick – save your Microsoft office files 10. Wikipedia – download one of the largest encyclopedias on your iPod (FREE)

More ideas from other practitioners can be found in the Apple Interchange Learning Community which I highlighted in a previous post.

Social Media Threat to Education?

CNN Sees Facebook as Major Competitor” says Mashable’s writer Jennifer Van Grove in an article today. Even though it seems reasonable at first “well, people are getting their news first on Facebook”, media giants like CNN should look deeper into social media platforms as OPPORTUNITIES to reach more people with their news. Similar to what Mashable and many others already do, publishing their feed on Twitter, Facebook and many other channels. Readers will most likely read short blurbs from their friends about news of interest on social networks and, if the news are really interesting they will go to major websites to find more details about it. If the news giants already have their feeds going into popular social media channels, people will actually retweet, respost, spread the link, taking readers back to the main news site. CNN seems to miss the point…

And so do many people in charge of K12, Higher Education, eLearning departments at corporations, and other “authorities” in Education: they see social media as a threat instead of an ally in doing what Education is all about, constructing communities of practice, taking knowledge to the masses, letting people construct knowledge, reach out to other learners… Many times when they use social media, they simply clone a popular service inside walled gardens, missing on the wealth of knowledge already out there.

Educators fail to see even major services like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter as learning communities and channels for knowledge creation and distribution perhaps because their policies are based in “old school” (pun intended) paradigms of authoritative learning. “What will happen when we admit Wikipedia can be a legitimate source of knowledge?” “What will happen when we let our learners loose on video sharing sites?” “I don’t even understand microblogging, how can I use it in the classroom/as the classroom?” and other questions are asked by friends of mine in Education all the time. Let’s not forget our roles as “facilitators” in the new media era…

What are questions and answers YOU might have about using social media in Education?

Why don’t we see more of social media applied to learning experiences?

Where have you seen it? Have YOU used social media to facilitate learning?

Time to Know – Interactive Core Curriculum

Time to Know is a startup company providing interactive core curriculum for the 21st century.

Using Constructivism as it departing point, Time to Know employs a blended learning approach to delivering State-standard core curricula. The program promises to foster critical thinking, independent learning and better outcomes through an inquiry-based discovery process.

Instead of the traditional authoritative role, teachers using this program are supposed to take the active role of a facilitator while students explore and learn.

T2K: a Paradigm Shift in K-12 Education from Time To Know on Vimeo.

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