Tag Archives: learning

Online Casual Gaming Trendsetters Gen-X, Millennials, and High-Tech: The Fast and the Future

Humphrey Watson, a writer, submitted the article below for publication on my blog. I find it an interesting read in general, as it highlights the fact that simple games, sometimes, are better than complex ones to increase learner retention and attention…

From old-school to new-school: Bingo! Video games remain popular as educational tools

A challenge educators face daily: how to make learning fun

One big hurdle that a lot of educators inevitably come across is the fact that some students just don’t take to specific subjects as easily as others. In K12 schools, Math is a good example. In the corporate world, think of that compliance training! How do you teach an otherwise dry and sometimes boring subject matter to disinterested students? Why, by turning it into a game, of course!

Using casual games to teach isn’t at all a novel concept. Remember The Oregon Trail and bingo? The educational benefits of the latter, which has been in use inside classrooms for longer than most of us have been alive, can even trace its roots back to Germany. During the 1800s, German teachers started to incorporate bingo into their classes to teach math, spelling, and history.

Consider the simple game of Bingo. Thanks to its easy-to-learn gameplay mechanics, customizability, and the added fun factor in yelling out “Bingo!” every time you form a line), bingo has had great success as an educational tool. From maths to music, geography to geology, bingo can be adapted into a teaching tool for a wide range of subjects. Simplicity is key!

In addition to the borderline obscene amounts of money that bingo companies spend to promote their games (Gaming Realms recently poured millions of pounds into the BingoGodz; ad campaign), the simplicity and adaptability of the casual game mechanics into different contexts has kept this sort of game alive through the years.

New advances in technology have also pushed the “serious games” industry to new and greater heights. Numerous studies, including a recent one from NYU and CUNY, have found that video games can be highly effective in motivating students to learn less popular subjects.

Educational institutions, foundations, and even the government are taking notice. GlassLab;, a California-based non-profit that works out of gaming giant Electronic Arts, has been given $10.3 million by The Gates and MacArthur Foundations to create educational games. GlassLab is not alone, either. It’s just one of many such developers found all over the United States.

Thanks to these new developments, the field of education is certainly shaping up to be an exciting one for educators and students all over the world.

Cite this article:
Silva E (2014-01-27 07:34:56). Online Casual Gaming Trendsetters Gen-X, Millennials, and High-Tech: The Fast and the Future. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 16, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2014/01/27/online-casual-gaming-trendsetters-gen-x-millennials-and-high-tech-the-fast-and-the-future/

ADDIE – “The” Instructional Design Process – Explainer Videos

A series by Edtech Dojo.

Analysis Phase

Design Phase

Development Phase

Implementation Phase

Evaluation Phase

Cite this article:
Silva E (2014-01-18 08:36:18). ADDIE - "The" Instructional Design Process - Explainer Videos. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 16, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2014/01/18/addie-the-instructional-design-process-explainer-videos/

Interview with busuu Languages Education Director, Oula Akiki

I recently had an interview with a Oula Akiki, Education Director at a busuu, a company that offers an array of digital language learning curricula and applications.




Here are some questions and her answers.

How did you get started in the language learning field?

I majored in modern languages, linguistics and translation at university. I’ve always been interested in languages. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t learning a second or third language. I went to the same business school as Bernhard amp; Adrian the busuu co-founders. I met them at an event and we immediately shared a common interest in languages. They were talking about their ideas for busuu, and I was immediately interested in the product. From my interest in linguistics, I wanted to move away from the traditional way of doing things and become more involved in product innovation. I joined busuu in January 2011 after graduating from business school in Madrid. I moved with the company from Madrid to London a year ago.

How did busuu start?

Bernhard Niesner and Adrian Hilti founded busuu in Madrid, where it was an official UNESCO International Year of Languages project in 2008. The company is named after the endangered Busuu language of Cameroon. According to an ethnological study from the 1980’s, Busuu is spoken by only 8 people. We went to Cameroon to track down those 8 people and made a video about our experience here!

Language learning technology is a saturated field. What makes busuu unique? How does it compare to other offerings in the market like Rosetta Stone, Livemocha, Duolingo…?

We create a good learning experience where we are trying to offer everything you need to complete your learning. We combine the content with a cross-platform solution so you can learn on mobile or on the web – the program is flexible to your needs. We complement that with our unique community -  it’s a friendly, helpful community where you can speak to native lanugage speakers. So you can learn anywhere on any device. You can practice with the commmunity who bring the conversational element that is so important when learning language. Language is about interacting with others and learning about other cultures is a part of that.  Learning the language is one thing, putting it into practice is another. We offer one solution that is practical, adaptable and fun to use. busuu has a gamified environment that makes the learning fun and engaging. It has nothing to do with your language book or your language class. The people in the community are more relevant as they live in the country whose language your learning. It’s an opportunity to learn and engage in a way you’d never learn with a book.

What’s the busuu approach?

We teach you relevant vocabulary, that you need in every day life. We break down the course content into smaller contexts that are easier to assimilate when you’re learning language. Then, put it into sentences. You’re going to find that conversation to be useful in every day life. We take useful vocabulary and useful conversation modes that are bundled into topics based on your needs and the situations when you need to use them.

Learning a language is a rewarding yet arduous process. What is your advice for those learning a language now or considering it?

It can be challenging, like anything new that you learn, but having regular conversations with people makes it more fun and less stressful. We’ve built a useful process to learn and remember language as well as to practice it. You have the cultural exchange happening as well. Even if you are in the early stages, you can still practice by talking to native speakers. People find out that they know more than they think they do, and that then inspires their confidence to continue learning. Keep practicing your language exercises. Like any exercise, a bit of training here and a bit of training there is still very helpful.

Is there anything you can reveal to us about the future of busuu?

Stay tuned, we have some exciting things coming in early 2014.

What about language learning and acquisition in general?

People are learning on different devices, and we find language learning is suited to a multi-device lifestyle.  We base our content creation on user behaviour and what we know is more important to them. People learning want stats, dashboard. It’s more personalized and need-driven. In general, it’s more intelligent and data-driven. What we learn from learning habits and how people interact wtih content, so we can refine and make it better.

Rosetta Stone, for instance, backs the Endangered Languages project, is busuu involved in any causes our readers should know about and get involved with?

Given we are named after an endangered language, we do support this issue as a company. We run an annual program called Learn2Help, 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 our ultimate goal  of building an entire classroom for children in Cameroon.

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-12-13 15:51:43). Interview with busuu Languages Education Director, Oula Akiki. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 16, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/12/13/interview-with-busuu-languages-education-director-oula-akiki/

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 16, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/12/06/learn2help-program-learn-a-language-and-help-build-a-classroom-in-cameroon/

Wanna be the Number One in Learning?

SuccessFactors’ Cloud Talent Success organization led by Jenny Dearborn has just been recognized as the #1 learning and development organization of 2013 by the Elearning! Media Group  in the Performance Excellence category.

Read the article here to find out more about what it takes to be amongst the top learning and development organizations in the world!

Also, congratulations to U.S. Defense Acquisition University for the #1 spot in the Collaboration Excellence award.

#1 baby!

#1 baby!

I am  proud to be part of this organization!

Top Learning Organization 2013 Meme

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-08-27 12:37:37). Wanna be the Number One in Learning?. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 16, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/08/27/wanna-be-the-number-one-in-learning/

Trends in Educational Technology (eLearning Trends INFOGRAPHIC)

I know, too many buzzwords flying around. So, how do you keep up with all the terminology and make sure you’re not missing out on trends that *might* have a positive impact in your learning programs or personal learning experiences? Answer: keep up with resources such as this cheat sheet for Educational Technology Trends compiled by the people at Boundless in infographic form:


Educational Technology Trends Cheat Sheet

Learn about some of the latest trends in eLearning, in one infographic by @GoBoundless

Source article from LearnDash.

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-08-07 10:52:03). Trends in Educational Technology (eLearning Trends INFOGRAPHIC). Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 16, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/08/07/trends-in-educational-technology-elearning-trends-infographic/

Duolingo – Free Language Learning Curricula (Available on Web, iOS and Android)

I can’t begin to stress how learning languages opened my life to new opportunities, coming from the countryside of Brazil
There are several ways to learn a language for free online: Skype meetups, virtual worlds, video chats, chatrooms (I used to go to my sister’s house to get on ICQ chatrooms to practice English on her computer), applications, open curricula, and so forth… many of these discussed previously on this blog.

Duolingo is especially interesting because:

  • It helps translate the Web (in partnership with Google)
  • It contains gamification elements (rewards and levels are linked to how well you perform in the application)
  • The curricula are instructionally sound and well-designed
  • It is offered on the Web, for iOS, and for Android platforms
  • It is FREE for life (especially in light of major online language learning services like LiveMocha now charging for their services)

Duolingo currently (June 2013) offers courses in:

  • Spanish
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • Portuguese
  • Italian

Look for Duolingo on your app store and download it for free.

Pick a language and start learning!


Duolingo on the go

Now on iPhone and Android.

Email a link to my device

Email a link to my device

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-05-31 11:37:44). Duolingo - Free Language Learning Curricula (Available on Web, iOS and Android). Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 16, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/05/31/duolingo-free-language-learning-curricula-available-on-web-ios-and-android/

Reusable and Shareable Learning Objects

When we normally think of reusable learning objects we think of reusing them in other traditional learning settings, be it a chapter of a student manual or a video used in a different e-learning course (yes, e-learning is traditional, isn’t it?).
When we think of modular, reusable learning objects we have to think of them as not just reusable in a traditional sense, but imagine them as shareable learning objects. Media elements to be spread in different social media sites by us (designers/developers) and learners themselves. For instance, when creating a job aid about a process or concept, make it attractive, publish it on different social media sites like Pinterest (the new fad now) so others can also share it. Or perhaps you design a video that can not only be used in a course, but also shared via YouTube. Those are simple examples, but we have to think of learning as a continuum, not just self-contained experiences.
Don’t just design self-contained experiences, design pieces of a whole that can also function separately. Pieces that can be reused, shared in different social networks.
Don’t just design learning media, design potentially social media.

I Pledge to Unattend Conferences from Now on

I just came back from an amazing conference with amazing speakers, meet-ups, panels, free food and drinks, crazy people on the streets, advertisement anywhere (people’s bodies, trucks, pedicabs, projected on walls), forward thinking people who want to change the world, and those who want to make a big splashing releasing their new product, people with ideas, people with the money to fund the ideas, people with the guts to build or tear down ideas… people from all over the world.

SWSX Interactive.

Yet, what do many do (myself included), go from session to session with a feeling that “you’re missing something” if you don’t go to every single one of them. A strange feeling of lack of connection if you don’t go to every hip party (and there are quite a few).

The truth is that the most interesting and meaningful connections don’t come from a photo with a famous speaker, or the number of interesting sessions you attended. The interesting conversations happen in the places you are normally too busy or bitter to notice: in line for free food, bumping into people in the hall ways.

So, next time I attend a conference, even more so then now, I will not complain about standing in line, I’ll engage in even more conversations with those around me. I will consciously not complain about people bumping into me as they rush to another session: I will just take advantage of that bump to strike a conversation.

Conversation is the key to connecting forging meaningful relationships. Instead of counting the amount of good sessions you attended, enjoy the fulfilling conversations you had during the event.

That’s what I’ll do. I’ll unattend my next conference.


The end of assessment as we know it

“The concept of a job is going away” (Bersin, 2012) and so should the concept of assessment. At least assessment as we know it. Or the assessment forms that we dearly esteem.

The truth is, most educators teach to assess. Yes, the end goal of the learning experience is to prepare learners to succeed in the assessment. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

Take, for instance, the idea of knowledge in the new Capitalism and how communities of practice are key to helping employees understand the whole company process of which they are part, adapt to fast-changing technologies, markets and work environments, share knowledge and encourage one another. Our role as leaders is to create communities of practice around a goal or interest, and help them generate explicit knowledge from the mostly tacit, extensive, distributed and disperse knowledge shared in the communities (Gee, 2000).  Whether we want it or not, whether we (leaders, educators) create them or not, these learners will find ways to connect to their peers in communities of practice. We can choose start them, participate in them, facilitate the knowledge sharing, eve intersperse “educational content” (I mean that in a formal sense of the word, being it synchronous sessions with a facilitator, guided discussions, group activities, etc.). So, how can we measure success in complex and interactive learning communities?

The word “practice” in “community of practice” is key in identifying assessments that would be authentic to the learners of the 21st century.

  • Assessment has to be authentic to the activities they do on the job. Practical. Ask learners to create  a product that related to the goal of the learning experience/community. A sales community/course could, for instance, be assessed on mock sales pitch presentations they create individually or in teams.
  • Assessment can to go beyond the finite notion of a single event. What if the learners that just created a pitch could reuse that for a real encounter with a customer? What if an activity in a technical System Administration community is to create a script that performs a certain task on an Operating System, and, after being assessed positively, feedback provided by peers and facilitator, that script could be then used in the real world by the learner on his/her day-to-day job?
  • Also, assessment has to be part of learning, not the end goal of it. Why make it a boring quiz when it can be a simulation in which the learners put to practice what they shared and discussed during the course of the community?
  • Let members of the community assess one another. Most online community platforms have discussion boards, badges, and other ways of giving kudos to other users.
  • Allow self-reflection. “Did you achieve the goal? Did you successfully sell product X to customer Y? What defines “success” to you? What would you have done differently?”
  • Let the assessment be fun. Have a competition in teams of who performs the task “better” producing a “better” final product, to be assessed by a judge or the community itself.

There are so many form of alternative assessment (NCLRC, 2000), why are we still so dependent on the omniscient LMS as the most used form of accountability in traditional courses?

We are in the 21st century, yet still defining success with ancient measurements…


A Couple of References

Bersin, J., 2012. The End of a Job as We Know It. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2012 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/01/31/the-end-of-a-job-as-we-know-it/.

Gee, JP., 2000.  Communities of practice in the new capitalism. J Learn Sci.

National Capital Language Resource Center (2000). Assessing Learning: Alternative Assessment. Washington DC.

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