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:

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

Fine-tuning your activity URLs for sharing and embedding

Most textivate users will be aware that you can share links to textivate (shareable & public) resources in a number of ways, as explained on this post:

textivate.posthaven.com/sharing-and-embedding-textivate-activities

To recap, you can share a link to...: 

  1. the home page (i.e. the edit screen containing the text). e.g. www.textivate.com/aocjn1
  2. the menu page (with the thumbnails for all the activities). e.g. www.textivate.com/menu-aocjn1
  3. an activity page. e.g. www.textivate.com/3x4-aocjn1

You'll notice that all of these end in a 6-character resource identifier -- in this case "aocjn1".

This blog post looks at how you can fine tune the urls for individual activities (case 3 above) to configure the exercise screen when the student lands on it. This fine tuning involves adding extra info to the resource identifier, and we've now added this functionality to the share box.

If you open the share box for an activity which has fine-tuneable aspects (which is most of those on the text side, and many of those on the matching side) you'll see a link to fine-tune the activity url. (See above)

If you click on this link, you'll see another box with options for fine-tuning the activity. (See below)

Colour schemes (not so blue any more)

We've added a "palette" icon to the home page and menu screens on textivate. It looks like this:

If you click on it (on textivate, not here) it will change the colour scheme, background colours etc. 

You can also specify a colour in your resource links / embed codes etc.

We'll add more colours later.

See the examples below. Open each activity to see the different colours.

Clues / prompts for user-defined gaps

If you make a user-defined gap-fill on textivate (as explained here and here) you can now add clues or prompts for some or all of your gaps.

To do this, first create your user-defined gap-fill by clicking on the button on the textivate home page:

Then close the user-defined gap-fill edit box. This adds [#] in front of the words (or groups of words) that you have selected as gaps. 

Then type your clue or prompt after the # on the textivate edit screen (in the "Text" box or the "Show all" box), like this:
[#your clue here]the_gapped_word

You might end up with a text that looks something like this:

NEW in Multiple-choice activities -- you can specify your own WRONG answers

The Multi Match activities or the MATCH side of Textivate (1 in 3, 1 in 4, 1 in 5, 1 in 10) and the Million activity (also on the MATCH side) have always presented the correct answer along with incorrect answers randomly selected from the rest of the answers for your resource.

BUT now you can specify your own incorrect answers! 

In the following way:

Simply add a vertical bar followed by hash |# after the correct answer, then as many incorrect answers as you like each separated by hash #

So you might end up with matching items that look something like this in your finished resource:

a house==une maison |#un appartment #une voiture
je fais ___ planche à voile==de la |#du #de l' #de #la #des
Que fait le garçon après le dîner?==il regarde la télé |#il écoute la radio #il prend le dîner #il se douche
Me ___ bailar==gusta |#quiero #gusto #quieren #gustan

(Now, clearly, it would be a pretty weird resource if all of the above appeared in the same resource...;-)

It doesn't matter how many "wrong" answers you include.

And you don't need to include them for every question. 

If you do include wrong answers, these will be used first (and any extra spaces will be used up with randomly selected answers from other questions in the resource).

You can use this feature along with a parallel text / audio / video to create reading or listening comprehension activities with a bit more of a challenge (i.e. where the answers are too obvious if they are randomly selected from the rest of the resource).

See this example of a listening resource created by adding wrong answers for most of the questions.

Thinking about it, you could even use this new feature to create multiple choice quizzes, grammar activities, all sorts.

(I think I'll be adding more to this later...)

Random order or original order? Why it matters.

Some Match activities have Random order / Original order options.

By default, these activities present the questions in random order.

But it can sometimes be useful to present the items in the original sequence, for example to make a "Find the French" activity simpler by having the questions appear in the same order as the vocab in the text, or to add comprehension questions to a resource which has a parallel text (reading comprehension) or audio or video (listening comprehension).

You can tweak your link urls -- add e1 to the activty url to make it start in the original order and no option to change. (See this blog post on tweaking your textivate urls.)

Here are a few examples:

French, multiple choice reading comprehension. (Questions follow the order of the text.)

French, reading comprehension, fill in the answers. (Word shapes provided. Again, follows the order of the text.)

Spanish, listening comprehension. Multi-choice.

Spanish listening comprehension, fill in the answers. (Initials provided.)

Remember, until this latest update, this sort of exercise would not have been possible on textivate as the questions would have appeared in random order.

Picture prompt for your textivities - exploiting a picture with textivate

Just as you can add a video to your textivate resources, as explained here, you can now add an image to a textivate resource so that students can view it along with the activities.

As with video and audio embedding, there are 2 methods:

1. Via the "Extras" tab

Simply click on the Extras tab and type or paste the link to your image in the "Image url" box.

Menu screen glossing...

If you create a resource based on a text AND a set of matching items, textivate now adds a clickable glossary to your text on the menu screen.

Textivate looks for your matching items in the text, and if it finds any of them, it adds a clickable link which students can use to see the translation of that word or phrase.

See this example: http://www.textivate.com/menu-sugjn1
(It's the resource shown in the image above.)

This blog post explains how to create a resource based on text AND matching items (a.k.a. a Text+Match resource).

Hope you like this feature.

:0)