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A Vocabulary Site Shows How to Tailor Online Education

By on April 19, 2013
Gamification, K-12, Language Learning, Personalized Learning, Reading / Literature, Required, Startups, Technology

Vocabulary.com

New York City-based ThinkMap‘s word learning platform, Vocabulary.com, demonstrates some solid improvement on learning analytics and basic gamification applied toward simple online learning tasks. We found it surprisingly addictive, and thought the “Word in the Wild” feature is particularly innovative for learners to see words in actual usage and draw inferential clues.

ThinkMap’s customers are squarely middle school and high school students right now, but we think there will be opportunity with the personalization algorithms and mechanics they are developing to swim upstream to higher ed. In addition, there’s probably not much of a jump to foreign language learning.

Key stats:

  • Went live 2011
  • 60 million site visits
  • 100,000 vocabulary questions
  • Michael Freedman, co-founder and CEO, did not disclose pricing model (though, wouldn’t a FOIA open that up?)

The New York Times’ Steve Lohr reports:

Educators who are familiar with Vocabulary.com are impressed by the technology. It is a sign, they say, that real progress is finally being made in computer-assisted education — at least in the domain of learning words and their meaning.

“Vocabulary.com is a good example of what is becoming possible and the direction we should be heading,” said Lee Ann Tysseling, an associate professor of education at Boise State University. “We’re seeing the blooming of good academic ways to use computers. It builds on good academic theory and not just what’s easy to program.”

ThinkMapThinkMap might sound familiar because they’re also the creators of Visual Thesaurus, which helps visual learners better grasp the relationships between words through a interactive nav display.

[NYT]

 



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