Q&A: Using the Flexibility of Lectora for Language Learning


Here at Trivantis®, we love hearing and sharing what our customers are doing with Lectora®. Andrew Lian has been teaching languages since 1971—and he was one of the pioneers of technology-enhanced language learning.Now, Andrew uses Lectora for language learning and loves the flexibility to get creative with JavaScript and HTML extensions: “…The strength of Lectora for me is that it is a fast, attractive, development environment with good flexibility (programmability in JavaScript and also HTML extensions) and connectivity (HTML extensions again and the form system for talking to CGI scripts).”Let’s see what else Andrew shared with us in the Q&A.

Q: How long have you been using Lectora?

A: I have been using Lectora for approximately 2 years.

Q: What made you choose Lectora?

A: Lectora is a really important/necessary part of potentially complex systems for learning and teaching (anything.) It is a fast development environment and allows the quick production of really nice user interfaces and delivery systems. Its strength for me lies in its flexibility and connectivity. In the language-learning world (particularly English) we are now faced with a mass market, especially in Asia and the ASEAN Community, of perhaps up to 1 billion people with often unpredicted language needs which need to be met at short notice. Traditional language teaching and learning systems (such as schools and universities) will almost certainly be unable to meet the demand and its unpredictable nature. There is therefore a huge area of intellectual, academic and commercial opportunities for good online language-learning facilities.

I said I liked Lectora’s flexibility and connectivity because it is programmable (to a large extent anyway) and it is able to connect to databases and other systems through JavaScript, its forms system and also all of its HTML extensions which are critically important both for connectivity and integration. For instance, instead of using a heavy LMS, I am running lessons with a front-end based on a lightweight content management system with authentication facilitated by an HTML extension so that access to lessons is limited through a quite granular system of groups—and files are protected through simple integration with the CMS again through an HTML extension. Probably this will need to be strengthened, but I am no longer a slave to Moodle or other systems like it. Record-keeping is done through the use of forms talking to a MySQL database and managed through a separate front-end.

This gives maximum flexibility for a minimum of effort and once templates are generated, then they can be essentially filled in by relatively inexperienced users.

Q: What advice do you have for those also using Lectora and technology to teach?

A: Get to know the technology and the research—look into the future, not into the past—actually create the future. In particular, for real progress to occur, we (ALL of us, not just the experts—experts are a dying breed) need to go beyond the limits set by our administrators and not always say things like “This is very nice but unrealistic. We will never be allowed to do it.” If we always worry about administrators then nothing will happen.

Lectora can help achieve these ambitions as it is a great tool for creativity and innovation: fundamentally, the issue of how to use Lectora or any other tool is intellectual not technical. And the 21st century with its potential for freedom, Do-It-Yourself activity (initiative-taking) community intelligence, crowdsourcing, and unpredictable development makes it all possible.

Q: Why are localization and translation so important in the eLearning industry?

A: While English is gaining ground for communication between people all over the world, not everyone knows English but everyone needs to be provided with an equal opportunity for being successful. Localization provides such opportunity and enables more effective access to information.

Thanks for sharing your expertise and the way you use Lectora with us, Andrew!Want to see what you can create with Lectora? Sign up for a free trial today.Andrew Lian is Professor of Foreign Language Studies, School of Foreign Languages, Suranaree University of Technology, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand; Professor of Postgraduate Studies in English Language Education at Ho Chi Minh City Open University, Viet Nam; and Professor Emeritus of Languages and Second Language Education at the University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia. He is the current President of AsiaCALL, the Asia Association of Computer-Assisted Language-Learning, a research and professional association focusing on the uses of technology to enhance second/foreign language learning in Asian contexts.