Taking small, endangered languages online... and literacy in a new format

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By APCNews

GOA, INDIA, 26 February 2006

Web Networks has recently completed a working prototype of a unique online tool to deliver literacy, as part of its "In Your Language - En tu Idioma" family of products. "Yodigo" incorporates the "Conditional Cash Transfer" approach to development funding within an interactive, video-based learning environment that can be provided online or on DVD.

You can see www.yodigo.tv for more information and to try out the demo, and contact Oliver Zielke (oliver @ web.net) if interested in participating in piloting this tool in the field. Watch for more information next month about the En tu Idioma project and APC partners in Latin America.

Earlier, the Toronto-based Web Networks successfully submitted a project proposal to UNESCO's Information For All Programme. Its goal: to publish indigenous languages (scripts) online.

Going under a longish formal name of 'Information and Communication Technologies Supporting Endangered Aboriginal and Other Less Commonly Taught Languages', the project addresses the problem of the expected extinction of many of the world’s smaller languages not too far down the road.

This work's short title is called "In Your Language". Web Networks director Oliver Zielke, in an interview in mid-2005, also told APCNews that he had just returned from Sudan, and Web Networks had signed a Letter of Intent with The Open University of Sudan, as well as a local IT firm - M.M Systems - to use In Your Language in their activities.

"We specifically looked at supporting (the southern Sudan language of) Dinka through the In Your Language platform, as well as Arabic," said Zielke at that time. "Obviously we are very excited at Web about In Your Language," he added.

It has been pointed out that every of our world's language represents a unique human response; each is a living heritage that needs to be cherished. This project represents Phase II of the Attavik.net initiative, carried out earlier in 2003-2004 by Web Networks.

Just in 2004, Web Networks successfully introduced ICTs (information and communication technologies) to provide the Inuit in Nunavut, northern Canada, with an online platform to effectively publish online and work in their native language -Inuktitut.

Attavik.net is featured on the UNESCO website at http://portal.unesco.org/ci/en/ev.php-URL_ID=17496&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_S...

Canadian Inuit live primarily in Nunavut, Nunavik - a region in the northern part of the province of Quebec - and in Nunatsiavut, a region in northern Labrador.

On any computer

Toronto-based Web Networks worked with Piruvik Centre of Iqualuit to develop the server-side tools and Attavik.net. The latter is an application suite that makes it easy to manage documents, directories, calendars, registrations, and online payment in the Inuit language. The technology behind Attavik.net can be used to serve Web sites in other syllabic languages, such as Cree, Oji-cree, Naskapi, and Korean.

Thanks to the Toronto organisation's solution, users were able to surf the web in their Inuktitut language on any computer, without extra software or special settings. As the syllabics issue is handled by the server, a user's fonts and browser settings didn't matter any more.

Site maintenance also became an easy task. Webmistresses could write in Inuktitut within the customised interface, and press a button. That's it.

Web Networks is incidentally a leader in knowledge management tools for membership-base organisations. Its clients include Greenpeace, Amnesty International, the Ontario Nurses Association and the Canadian Labour Congress. See www.attavik.net and www.web.net.

QuickLearn is an information literacy training platform for youth speakers of indigenous and less commonly taught (LCT) languages. It requires low bandwidth to deploy, low literacy to use, and can be implemented quickly in difficult and low-infrastructure environments.

QuickLearn uses a set of culturally-based, animated personalities to catch and hold the attention of youth learners, delivering effective tutorials in the primary language of its youth audience. For an online demonstration of QuickLearn, visit: http://www.lctquicklearn.com

Author: --- (APCNews)
Contact: editor @ apc.org
Source: APCNews
Date: 02/26/2006
Location: GOA, India
Category: Building Information Communities

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