Tag Archives: free

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 busuu.com 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 23, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/12/06/learn2help-program-learn-a-language-and-help-build-a-classroom-in-cameroon/

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.

Free Language Learning Resources – KDE

For those looking for free language learning software, there’s always the online Rosetta Stone alternatives with a twist of collaborative learning such as: LiveMocha, Babbel, MangoLanguages, Bussu, and others (which I will discuss in another post).

For those who don’t care so much about the “practicing with a community’” part of it and just want to practice some vocabulary on their own, at the comfort of their desktop, you should try playing with the KDE.edu language learning tools. These tools are free to use and open source (as in freedom). They also count on a large community of users and entities (such as Vox Humanitatis) who create modules for them which are also free to download. The amount of languages covered by the materials is vast.

Parley (a vocabulary trainer) seems to be the most comprehensive of the tools on KDE.edu’s language learning page. It uses spaced repetition as it main guiding principle, a technique which is quite effective for learning concepts and storing them in the long term memory.



Para aqueles à procura de software grátis e livre para o aprendizado de línguas, há várias alternativas para o Rosetta Stone online  com um “quê”de  aprendizado colaborativo como: LiveMocha, Babbel, MangoLanguages, Bussu, e outros (os quais discutirei em outros posts).

Para aqueles que não se importam tanto com os aspecto de “prática com a comunidade’”  e simplesmente querem praticar vocabulário sozinho, no comforto do seu PC, experimente as ferramentas de prática de vocabulário do projeto KDE.edu language. Essas ferramentas são grátis e de código aberto. Além do mais, o projeto conta com uma grande comunidade de usuários e entidades  (como a Vox Humanitatis) que criam módulos para as ferramentas (que também são grátis para se baixar). A quantidade de línguas abordadas pelos materiais é vasta.

Parley (uma ferramenta de treinamento de vocabulário) me parece ser a ferramenta mais compreensiva do KDE.edu. O Parley usa o conceito de repetição espaçada como seu princípio fundamental, uma técnica bem eficaz em aprendizado de conceitos que preza o armazenamento de informação na memória de longo.

Record Screencasts and Demos with no Downloads

It is nice not to have to download any programs if you want to record simple screencasts and demos (and in SIMPLE steps) of your computer screen.

Here is an good review of ScreenToaster by Jane Hart.

What is even better is not to have to create yet a new username and password for yet another website. That is where ScreenJelly differs from ScreenToarter: although ScreenJelly works pretty much in the same way, you can simply login with your Twitter account… Well, if you don’t have a Twitter account yet, go get one and play with it at least to know what the hype is about…

ScreenCastle is another simple, one-button, Java-based screen recorder that works with not need for complicated software installation. It is based on Skoffer, which offer a useful option for the bloggers out there: if you are an advanced (well, somewhat advanced) user, you can use their API to build plug it into your existing website for even quicker recordings.

Best of all, these tools are free of charge (as of this writing).


Screen Jelly


Open Books and TextBooks Online, Free

Taking after the movement of open source (free – as in freedom) software development, knowledge and information has also been “open sourced” (and crowdsourced) as new Web technologies allow for flexibility and ease of online collaboration in generating content.

Textbooks are now on the same route and here are a few interesting resources for those who are tired of paying absurd prices for academia content out there. Let’s t get all of our mind and expertise together and share knowledge more wisely than the good ol’ authoritative knowledge consumption models allow us to…

Question: Why don’t more experts and professors join the trend of open books?

WikiBooks – From the same company that maintains WikiPedia, this is an incredible collection of open books in any subject imaginable. Worthwhile.

Flat World Knowledge - This website’s goal is to share quality, peer-reviewed books in many areas of expertise. The idea is that faculty will publish the books under the Creative Commons license and allow students to access tailored, good quality content without having to pay the (sometimes) outrageous prices for textbooks. They already have some interesting content up. From their site, we have their definition of an open book: “It is a great book by a great author, peer-reviewed, professionally edited & developed, and published under a Creative Commons license. Faculty may tailor the book to their needs. Students may access the book free online or buy an affordable print, audio, or handheld format. Students get choice; faculty get control; authors earn rapid market share, greater royalties over time, and do some good!”

Open Book Project - They still don’t have much in their collection of books. But here is what they aim to accomplish and I hope they succeed: “The Open Book Project is aimed at the educational community and seeks to encourage and coordinate collaboration among students and teachers for the development of high quality, freely distributable textbooks and educational materials on a wide range of topics.”

TextBook Revolution – This site’s mission on their frontpage says it all: “Our approach is to bring all of the free textbooks we can find together in one place, review them, and let the best rise to the top and find their way into the hands of students in classrooms around the world.”

Waze, the Driver-generated GPS – Crowdsourcing Navigation – Free GPS for the iPhone

Yeah, the concept of crowdsourcing has been everyone. The wisdom of the crowd is something that has been more in evidence lately and Web 2.0 technologies allow for people to get together and collaborate on products, websites, information gathering, etc.

Now it’s the navigation systems’ turn. With Waze, drivers submit new routes, traffic updates and more on ever-evolving maps.

And it’s free for the iPhone.

From their official website:

“What are waze drivers building?

Waze is a social mobile application providing free turn-by-turn navigation based on the live conditions of the road.
100% powered by users, the more you drive, the better it gets. Join the community of drivers in your area today!”

Open eLearning Collections

Here is a list from WikiEducator.org that might interest many people. It includes many websites and organizations (such as MERLOT) that offer open eLearning content on the Web.



Online File Storage is Evolving – Store, Use, Share Your Media Everywhere

I am a huge fan of having access to my files anywhere, anytime. On a friend’s computer, at home, on my mobile device (the iPhone), etc. Securely, of course…

I have written about file storage and sync’ing before, a lot of them are freemium (you need to pay for extra storage, more features, etc.). A few I’ve found have unlimited storage, like MediaFire.

Sometimes file storage is not enough, we need file editing capabilities on the go. Well, there is Google Docs. Zoho suite, Adobe Buzzword and many other collaborative editing tools out there.

Also, having a neat little Webtop (desktop on the cloud) can be an interesting concept as well and it is evolving little by little.

EyeOS and Cloudo seem to be the most evolved of those competing in this space.

Watch out for Tonido as well, especially for those scared of putting their files out there on a server controlled by other people, well, Tonido lets you easily share files from your computer with not need for uploads… basically unlimited storage (for as long as there is space on your hard drive)… not WebOS, but pretty close and might actually work better than “desktops on the cloud” for now.

Adobe Offers Collaborative Text Editor and Web Conferencing Tools for Free

Big news: Adobe is giving something away! Might be just while in beta, they don;t really state the latter on their website. But they do say it is FREE.

The first free Adobe product I just discovered is Acrobat Buzzword, an online collaborative text editor or word processor (think Google Docs). While way ahead of the competition in the visual aspect of it with a stunning look and feel (Adobe standards) very intuitive and attractive interface that uses many “transition” effects from screen to screen. It is way behind other products of the kind in the functionality aspect. Some basic options are still missing on Adobe Acrobat Buzzword like being able to organize documents into different folders. Also, the formatting menu doesn’t offer many paragraph edit options and the fonts to choose from aren’t many. While intuitive, like I mentioned before, the user interface doesn’t follow the standards Google Docs and Zoho Office have tried to follow: creating an interface that is as similar to desktop office suites as possible to take advantage of users’ experience in the latter.

Another tool that is available for free right now is Adobe ConnectNow a fully functioning online Web meeting or Web conferencing tool that requires no plugin install and works very smoothly (again, Adobe Standards). Very aesthetically pleasing interface. ConnectNow works seamlessly with Buzzword so you can launch meetings from within a Buzzword document and collaborate on it with meeting participants. For this product Adobe added features present separately in many other web conferencing services into one product:

  • Unique meeting room URL
  • Screen sharing
  • Video conferencing
  • Chat pod
  • Whiteboard
  • Several integrated audio choices
  • Remote control (great for technical support, for instance).

These products are excellent opportunities for collaborative authoring, especially for online classes and telecommuters. Again these are products with Adobe’s standards but are free of charge.

Association of Virtual Worlds’ Resources

The Association of Virtual Worlds is a new initiative that focuses on Virtual Worlds research and also works like an interest group. They have created a community on Ning to facilitate interaction amongst those who share interest in MUVEs.

They have some very good material about their main object of interest, including these ebooks that are free to download:

The Green Book: A Business Guide to Virtual Worlds
The Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds

These can be found in their Publishing Division website and also in their Ning community.

Long lists, so… enjoy the read/navigation…

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