What's been added to TEXTIVATE since the beginning of the last academic year?

New features are being added to textivate all the time. 

To give you an idea, if you've been using textivate for the last 12 months (September 2015 - August 2016), these are all the new features that have been added to textivate in that time. Click on the links for more info:

  1. Challenges (September 2015) - in-class competitions for individuals or teams
  2. Match Jumble (October 2015) - new match activity
  3. Drop-down box navigation (November 2015)
  4. Split by sentence (November 2015)
  5. Improved options for non-roman-script languages (November 2015)
  6. Jumbled words (November 2015) - new text activity
  7. Word invaders (November 2015) - new text activity
  8. Football (January 2016) - new text and match activities
  9. 3 in a row (January 2016) - new text and match activities
  10. Space specifications (January 2016)
  11. Flashcards improvements (January 2016)
  12. Speed read (February 2016) - new text activity
  13. Text to speech (July 2016) - new feature to add speech functionality to almost all your textivities
  14. Switch matching items (July 2016) - improvement for match resources
  15. Flashcards clues options (August 2016) - makes flashcards much more versatile

Challenges are just one of many new features added to textivate in the past 12 months...

BIG changes to Flashcards with new "Clue" option :0)

Until now, the Flashcards activity has looked like this:

The prompt is presented along with a question mark. The student tries to say the correct answer. They click the question mark and the correct answer is revealed. They then click the green tick if they got it right or the red cross if they got it wrong. (And if they got it wrong, that question was repeated again later.)

Well, most of that is exactly as it was before. The big difference is the option to set a different clue instead of just a question mark. (See the image at the top of the page which shows the option box.) So what you end up with now is all of the following ways of viewing Flashcards (as well as the default question mark option, which is still there):

New text-to-speech "sections" option added to many text activities.

The Tile and Horizontal activities, Paragraph, 1in3, 1in4, 1in5, Million and Next word now have a new feature: TTS sections.

If you have enabled TTS for your resource, you should see TTS sections as one of the TTS options for these activities. If you select TTS sections, a "Speak" button appears with a dropdown box for each sentence in the text. (See above). Click "Speak" to hear the current section.

See the embedded Tile 3x4 activity below as an example:

Talking pictures? Image-based Match resources with added text-to-speech!

You may or may not be aware that it IS possible to create Match resources on textivate matching images with text. This blog post tells you all about it.

Well, with text-to-speech, it's now possible to add a voice to those images too. Here's how:

  1. Make an image based Match resource by placing urls pointing to the locations of your image files inside [img] and [/img] tags, as explained in this blog post.
  2. Add the text that you want to be spoken AFTER the closing [/img] tag and before the == separator.
  3. Add a TTS voice to the left part of your match resource. (See this blog post about adding TTS to your resources.)

You should end up with something that looks like this:

And activities like the embedded examples below, where the image serves to reinforce the meaning:

TTS for spelling activities, with meaning reinforced by L1

Add text-to-speech to your Match activities to create audio-based spelling activities where the meaning is reinforced by displaying the L1 as a prompt.

To do this:

  1. Make a Match activity with the items listed as L1>L2
  2. Add a TTS voice to the right match (L2)
  3. Use one of the "Fill in the letters" Match activities, with TTS on.

See the embedded example below:

TTS (text-to-speech) added to Space (Separate the words)

We've now added text-to-speech (TTS) to the Space activity ("Separate the words").

If your resource has text-to-speech enabled, turn on TTS using the selector at the bottom of the screen, and click "speak" to speak the text one sentence at a time. Use the number selector to jump to a different part of the text. (After finishing speaking a sentence, the number selector jumps to the next sentence automatically, so you just need to keep clicking the "speak" button.)

Here's an embedded example for you:

New SWITCH feature for many of the MATCH textivities

A new feature added along with TTS (text-to-speech) was the ability to switch the order of matching items for many of the MATCH textivities.

This Switched / Not switched option can be specified in your sequences (as shown above), in URL fine-tuning via the Share icon, and students can change the order of matching items from within the activity using the Switch checkbox, shown below (EXCEPT when the activity is part of a Challenge).

This Switch feature is available for all the Match activities except: Snap, Click Match (6,8,9,10,12), Memory (6,8,9,10,12)

The Switch feature is NEVER available...

  • when the resource contains images (or speak::) in the left match
  • when the activity is being attempted as part of a Challenge

Why Switch?

Well, some match activities work best with L2 prompts, where students have to choose the correct English translation for a given word or phrase, for example. Whereas text input (spelling) activities work best where the prompt is in the L1 and the students have to write in the correct response in the L2.

Switch means that you can now do these two types of activity using the same textivate resource.

See the 2 examples below, both taken from the same textivate resource:

TTS to make match activities with spoken prompts only... (Sound Match)

A simple trick to turn your Match resources into Sound Match resources:

1. Add speak:: at the beginning of your left match items.

2. Add text-to-speech (TTS) to the left match items (by selecting the language on the "Extras" tab).

Your matching items will look like this:

The result is activities where the left-hand text is spoken but not shown on the screen. See the embedded examples below. (Click to open.)

Text-to-Speech (TTS) on textivate :0)

Something new has appeared in the "Extras" tab on textivate...

We've added some new Text-To-Speech (TTS) functionality (using a third-party API from responsivevoice.com). It should work on all devices. (See the "Compatibility" section at the foot of this post...)

As you can see in the image above, this new feature allows you to select a language for...

  • The main textivate text. (i.e. the one that is used for text activities)
  • The left and right matching items.
  • The parallel text. (if you have one)

Text-to-speech is optional. You can leave it off; or you can add languages to just the text; or to just the left match, or to just the right match (or to both matches); or to just the parallel text; or to everything.

If your students are using textivate to help them learn their own texts, they can also add TTS to their texts :)
(Although, as I'm sure you are aware, text-to-speech isn't always 100% perfect...)

TTS on the menu screen

If TTS languages have been specified for a resource, you should see little grey speakers appear after each paragraph of text and after each matching item.

Here is a link to the menu screen for the French resource examples provided below: http://www.textivate.com/menu-6ovjn1

N.B. If you are editing or creating a new resource, these will only appear if you are logged in to textivate. 

TTS on activity screens

If TTS has been added to a resource, TTS option boxes should appear on activity screens. (Obviously, if you have a text+match resource and you have only added TTS for the text, the TTS option boxes will only appear on the text activities...).

TTS is available on all but a handful of textivate screens. The ones that don't have it are: Hangman and SpeedRead. (Also, the "no keyboard" versions of some of the activities have no TTS enabled.)

TTS in sequences

If TTS languages have been added to a resource, you should see TTS option boxes for any activities that you add to a sequence (except for those that have no TTS available; see 'TTS on activity screens' above).

You can turn TTS on and off for specific activities within a sequence. Note also the new 'switched' / 'not switched' option (as shown in the above image) available for some of the match activities, which allows you to specify which way round the match items appear in the sequence activity.

TTS specified in URLs

If TTS languages have been added to a resource, you should have the option to fine-tune link urls, embed code etc, to include TTS specification. (except for those that have no TTS available; see 'TTS on activity screens' above).

See this blog post about fine-tuning activity URLs.

Some TTS examples