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$4,974 pledged of $10,000 goal
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By Marc Bogonovich
$4,974 pledged of $10,000 goal
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About this project

Foreign language learning with open data.

There are millions of people around the world who can’t learn the languages they’re interested in.

While languages like German and French are supported by large companies, they leave out lesser known languages. Openwords is doing things differently - providing a platform for all languages, both large and small.

Openwords serves all languages by leveraging existing open language data (e.g. under a Creative Commons open license). Openwords is re-purposing this data for a language learning functionality.
Openwords serves all languages by leveraging existing open language data (e.g. under a Creative Commons open license). Openwords is re-purposing this data for a language learning functionality.

Openwords has open source content – so we can mine data from the public assets like the Wiktionary to provide educational content for all the languages - large & small.

Openwords has proven this concept works. We've mined content for >1000 languages (yes, three zeros). Available here Openwords.org

Openwords' purposes.
Openwords' purposes.

Our company is completely free and open. We are building a responsible social enterprise.

We don’t sell or steal your information.

Instead, we rely on creative funding and donations to keep our mission alive. We're working on the “open business model canvas” project with Creative Commons.

Openwords App

Openwords app. Diverse learning modules, and learner control.
Openwords app. Diverse learning modules, and learner control.

The Openwords app has diverse learning modules, including vocabulary, hearing, typing, we're even working on simple sentence translation problems. Learners have control over the content they want to learn. We have more information and a mockup in our more detailed section below.

Openwords app will be open source (CC0). Some language content that we mine is CC-BY-SA, and so that data must remain CC-BY-SA. However, all content that we create will be CC0. All educational content will have open licenses.

We need your help!

So come help us change the world.

Join Openwords

Reviews

Openwords and the open business model canvas by Creative Commons.

Rewards

$5: Thanks! + email.

$10 Sticker! + Your name on the app and our website!

$20 Beta download + Sticker + Thanks + a.t.a.

$25 Bloomington party! + Sticker + Thanks + a.t.a.

$35 Test group + Sticker + Thanks + a.t.a.

$50 Teacher module 2 years + Sticker + 1 Pin + Thanks + a.t.a.

$60 Ultimate Merch Pack!!!: T-shirt + 2 Pins + Stickers + Your name on the app and our website.

$100 a.t.a. language priority + Merch Pack.

$300 a.t.a. Language priority, chat with Marc + Merch Pack.

$1000 Language priority^2 + Merch Pack.

Openwords app Overview

Openwords has collated educational content for more than 1,000 languages (~500 are available for view on Openwords.org). The Openwords app will provide a language learning platform for this growing collection of open content.

Openwords exists for all languages, not just medium and small. The Openwords design provides curricula liberty. There may be a lot of apps for major languages, but fewer provide learners autonomy or give teachers the ability to organize content.

We are starting with the Android platform, and will follow up by building an Openwords webapp or iOS.

Openwords app

The Openwords design has different learning modules. We have single word problems like hearing, review, self-evaluate recognition, type-evaluation. We also have multiword and simple sentence translation problems in development, and a handwriting learning module for Chinese in development (utilizing the Wikimedia Stroke Order project!). The Openwords design is extensible. As we (or the community) develop new learning modules or games, we can add them in.

Left to right, 2014 prototype, Screenshots from our previous design cycle: Hearing learning module, Learning module selection screen, Hand-writing learning module.
Left to right, 2014 prototype, Screenshots from our previous design cycle: Hearing learning module, Learning module selection screen, Hand-writing learning module.

The Openwords app has a minimalist design. We believe languages themselves are beautiful. We also want to bring the Kickstarter community into the design process as we refine our current design. We're happy to share more about our design concepts; we've thought deeply about these issues, but the process is open to you.

Importantly the learner (and teacher) will be free to follow a curricula or express autonomy, starting in the simple ability to choose the words they want to learn.

Openwords will have simple sentence translation problems (Left), and also allow you to choose/build topics to learn.
Openwords will have simple sentence translation problems (Left), and also allow you to choose/build topics to learn.

Here is an InvisionApp mockup of the Openwords app, including initial learning modules and a simple navigation system. We'll also have a place where learners can follow their progress and set goals!

Teacher Module - Openwords will build a website where teachers can login and monitor their students performance on the Openwords app. This will be separate from the Openwords app itself, and will be a subscription service.

Openwords is a Social Enterprise

Openwords is a "triple-bottom-line" for-profit. This means Openwords has social goals in addition to financial goals.

In case you missed it, Openwords socials goals are:

  • 1. Free educational material.
  • 2. Open educational material
  • 3. Diverse educational material for diverse communities, offering flexible learning.

We are also interested in being a research vessel for open science, on learning and pedagogy.

We also aim to maintain various other principles, including transparency, and respect for privacy of learner data. Openwords is not just FREE. Openwords is OPEN.

Openwords will leverage open data, but we will also give back. Our language incubator improves a public asset, when we make improvements we can share these improvements back to the sources. We hope to help the Wikimedia community in this manner.

B-corporation status is not yet available to us in our state, but we are building a similar organization through contracts. We are modelling ourselves on other social enterprises like Ello.co - check out the Ello manifesto. We like that.

Team

A diverse group of students, scholars, and, educators are helping Openwords in the University city of Bloomington, IN. We are investing into our team, everyone with a long term relationship with Openwords will be a part owner.

Shenshen is our CTO, I'm (Marc) the founder, and Scott Trepper is the head of the User Experience and design team. I'm a scientist and educator, Shenshen is a computer scientist, engineer, and educator. Scott is working toward his Masters degree in the Human Computer Interaction & Design program at Indiana University. Scott also has experience in Instructional Systems Technology.

The full purpose of this Kickstarter is to fund some of the people you see here, and all of the funds will go to people other than myself (Marc) or Shenshen. We'll give you biographies of different participants as our campaign proceeds.

We want to support these people to work intensively on Openwords. Passion is bringing us a long way.

Openwords developed a superb UX team from graduate students and undergraduates in Indiana University. Lucas Lim will be working with us full time this Summer and responding to the Kickstarter community. Lucas is a brilliant young designer, and we're happy to have him working with us.

Patricia Wang - Openwords language incubator program
Patricia Wang - Openwords language incubator program

Patricia Wang is currently working on the Mandarin (traditional & simplified characters) Openwords db, and exploring the parameters of an Openwords language incubator program - a program to build on our already large quantity of content. Patty is completing a masters in IST (Instructional Systems Technology) and has a bachelors in Teaching Chinese as a second language.

Schneider Mervil - Openwords incubator, Haitian creole
Schneider Mervil - Openwords incubator, Haitian creole

More people have taken roles improving specific languages. Schneider Mervil (pictured) is working on the Openwords Haitian Creole curricula. Others are working on Japanese, Farsi, Greek and many others. If you're interested in a particular language and have human language skills or passion you can join our incubator. The best part is that contributions to Openwords are contributions to a public asset - the world owns our content.

There are more people to share. Sis Xie, Bes Taylor, Keng In Wong, Ping Hsu, Zachary Meyer, Kevin Chon, and others. This list includes linguists, language teachers, and people focussed on outreach, marketing and business.

Alisha (Venxia) Wagner is a talented artist, she created our introduction animation in our video. She sells stuff check it out. David Huber produced, wrote, and directed our live film video.

As you can see we have a large team, and I want to support them as much as possible during our Summer design/development cycle!

Our Goal

We aim to raise $10,000. That isn't a lot for the group that we have. With that amount of funding, we can focus enough of our time to reach a beta model of the Openwords app.

We will aim to raise more, this will support more of our group financially, and accelerate the development of the Openwords app. With the support of our backers we will eventually reach to every possible mobile/desktop platform.

Creative Commons, Openwords -  Open Business Model Canvas.

Openwords is collaborating with Creative Commons on a new and interesting project: The Open Business Model Canvas, a derivative project of the Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder. We are exploring business models that would support our Open data purpose. For example, we can introduce learners to potential job opportunities, consensually, and while protecting private data.

Openwords - open busines model canvas
Openwords - open busines model canvas

Through the Kickstarter we hope to raise enough money to fund the beta app. We will simultaneously develop revenue models to apply to Openwords.

Why are we turning to Kickstarter?

Openwords is a social enterprise. Our non-financial goals are important to us, and we'll avoid private investment or traditional venture capital. Kickstarter allows us to seed Openwords while maintaining our mission. In the future we could take on venture capital (or crowd-vesting), but we'll need to make sure they sign contracts allowing us to focus on our social goals, not profit exclusively.

There are more people to share. Sis Xie, Bes Taylor, Keng In Wong, Ping Hsu, Zachary Meyer, Kevin Chon, and others. This list includes linguists, language teachers, and people focussed on outreach, marketing and business.

Risks and challenges

Why will we be able to succeed?

1. We're standing on the giants of the open source movement.

Openwords has already mined extensive data. We've mined content for over 1000 languages. This was hard to do, but we did it, and we validated the core concept of Openwords - mining open language data for diverse languages.

Now, we are turning to Kickstarter to fund the completion of the Openwords app. The Openwords app will read problems from the large Openwords database, and present problems to the learner in the language they are learning.

2. We've already made significant progress in development and design. In 2014 we created a prototype. We performed user testing and in the past months have been working hard on a redesign.

3. We've lined up appropriate talent. In addition to our technical skills and passion, everyone is aligned with our social and educational goals. Our team has excellent specialists in linguistics and language pedagogy.

4. Bloomington, IN is a language learning center. No, really! Our city is beautiful and diverse, and this community of education will help us through rough spots. Scholars from Bloomington have gone on to discover the structure of DNA and start Wikipedia. Now, Openwords.

5. The founder (me) is a scientist and educator. I have a Ph.D. in a quantitative science and have ten years of teaching experience. In my doctoral research I mined massive repositories of open plant data (plants as in the green kind) and repurposed that data. Openwords is effectively an implementation of the methodology of my dissertation method applied to the problem of language learning. I'm very familiar with strategic problem solving, large projects, and helping people learn.

It is worthwhile mentioning that I'm completely devoted to Openwords, and especially to our team. I have no other projects, I've put my scientific research aside to put 100% of my time to this project. I'm a geographer and Openwords allows me to interact with people all over the world. I'm super pumped!

Most importantly, I'm committed to learning and freedom.

6. Shenshen Han, the CTO of Openwords is a veteran in EdTech, working in the Creativity Labs at Indiana University, building hardware to teach children concepts of biology. Shenshen has two masters degrees in computer science. Shenshen has ten years of industry experience managing large international teams on projects like our own. Shenshen is also completely devoted to Openwords success.

Shenshen is a network developer and system and software engineer.

7. Our design team is awesome! Our design team has a lot of talented people, working toward masters in the Human Computer Interaction/Design program at Indiana University. One of the first and finest such programs.

8. Our transparency will help us. We are opening up both our design process and Openwords app code to you (Kickstarter community). You can view our mockup. We will share our code via GitHub.

We want your feedback to make sure we are building something valuable for you and your culture.

All of Openwords data is available at Openwords.org

9. Beyond our initial app, in order to support our longer term success - Openwords is collaborating with Creative Commons on the Open Business Model Canvas. We are going to Kickstarter for seed money. Our work on the Open business model canvas will ensure that we attach revenue models that both support our open purpose and sustain and grow our enterprise, medium and long term.

A note about our state, Indiana -
We strongly oppose the recent law passed in Indiana, RFRA. Openwords by its very nature is a diverse group. We will serve everyone regardless of ethnicity, religion, or gender identification. Opposing our state on this topic cannot be an object of pride, as service to everyone is a bare minimum respect of human rights. We aim much higher.

Marc Bogonovich

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    If you want to support this cause, the $1 donation can raise our standing on Kickstarter. This really helps!

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    You will receive a thank you email from our team :)

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    RECOGNITION ON THE BACKERS PAGE
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    Your name will be listed on the backers page of the Openwords website and application. We can include a link to your website! All other backer levels also receive this award.
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    OPENWORDS STICKER - Our logo in sticker form will be mailed to you. Perfect for decorating your laptop. We love them and we're sure you will too!

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    BETA DOWNLOAD - Download the first version of our app! Be a part of an elite group of testers to help us shape the future of international language learning. All other higher backer levels also receive this reward.

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    HANGOUT WITH THE TEAM - We'll throw a party in Bloomington! Meet our team and your fellow backers. If you're not in Bloomington, we'll invited you to a one hour Google Hangout sessions with Marc and other members of the Openwords team. We’ll update you on our progress, answer any questions, and hear your ideas for improvement!

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    BE A PART OF OUR TEST GROUP - Not only will you get an early version of the application, but you’ll also gain the ability to provide feedback, test new learning modules and suggest other interesting features!

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    ACCESS TO TEACHER VERSION - With a $50 donation we will provide access to the Teacher Module for free for two years. While the Openwords app will be free for individual users, the Teacher Module will be a subscription service for teachers allowing them to monitor their students learning performance outside of the classroom.

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    LANGUAGE PRIORITY - Suggest a language for early inclusion in the Openwords application. Although Openwords uses open source data, we can give priority to certain languages by adding words to the Wikitionary database and recording audio translations.

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    TRUE BELIEVER - Thank you for believing in our project! You’ll receive all of the previous bonuses and a personal call from Marc thanking you for your generous contribution!

    If you are donating at this level, you have a shared vision for Openwords - and we'd like to learn more about you.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    LANGUAGE PRIORITY SQUARED - Enable our team to devote time to a language of your choice. Openwords is building an open source app designed for any language. However, within our group we can decide to devote time and energy to particular languages. If you become a language sponsor, we will make sure 1) Openwords is translated into the language of interest, 2) That language has content for several languages of interest (e.g. Language X -> English, Language X -> Chinese, Language X -> Language X2) 3) Make sure there are extensive audio files for non-native speakers who wish to learn your sponsored language. Whether it is ಕನ್ನಡ or 中文 or հայերեն , we'll make sure this language gets a solid and extensive presence on our open source system. We can go very far on $1000 because Bloomington Indiana is a language learning center.

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Funding period

- (30 days)