Anyone who has attempted to learn Chinese knows that it is challenging. With an alphabet-based language such as English, it is possible to figure out how to pronounce a word by looking at its spelling. This is not so with a character-based language like Chinese...either you know how to pronounce the character or you don't. The only way is to learn character-based languages is to memorize how to pronouce them a character at a time. There are no short cuts, no magic methods, or simple solutions...just hard work. However, the SmartPen may be able to help. While the SmartPen is more of a personal device today, we think it has the potential to be a great learning tool.
When Mr. and Mrs. Lau, parents of one of the editors, saw the SmartPen they thought it would be "fun" to use it to reproduce the famous book 1000 Character Text often used to teach Chinese characters. Their idea was to annotate the text so a student could then tap on a word to hear its pronuciation and its meaning. Clever!
We checked in with them this weekend to see how they were coming along with the project. So far, Mr. and Mrs. Lau have done a few different versions and are now experimenting with different layouts and formats. The project is so cool that we wanted to see if we could find a way to keep up with their progress between trips down to NYC. We remembered reading about Livescribe's Online feature and decided to check it out. After some fussing around, we managed to figure out how to upload files, activate access privileges, and create .PDF versions of the pages.
There are a lot of things LiveScribe did right, but there is still a lot that LiveScribe can to do to truely make the site a useful tool for sharing data and collaborative work. The limitations and problems--one audio file per page, slow updates, occassional freezes--were not show-stoppers for LiveScribe Online, but made the experience more awkward. However, the SmartPen is such a revolutionary product that we are willing to give LiveScribe time to continue improving its online service.
What would we really love to be able to do? It would be great is if we could download the data from the site into our pen and print out a hardcopy of the page so we could just click on the word to hear the audio. It would be a bonus if we could also download it to the Kindle. We look forward to the day when LiveScribe has this capability. [Permalink]- LiveScribe Online