Learning Foreign Language Vocabulary with ALOE

I completed my Master’s thesis this week.  I have to say I cut it a bit close with some of the participants in my study finishing up just last week.  In the course of writing my thesis, I’ve acquired a much deeper understanding of statistics, data visualizations and the more mundane art of Microsoft Word collaboration and document formatting.

For my Master’s, I’ve developed a new system that teaches vocabulary in context by transforming a student’s everyday web browsing experience into a language learning environment. The prototype, dubbed ALOE, selectively translates parts of every web page into the foreign language being learned such that the student reading the page can learn vocabulary using contextual hints provided by the untranslated words.  ALOE also provides multiple choice questions and definition lookups on the translated web pages.  The key idea behind ALOE is that it is able to augment students existing web browsing habits in order to provide language learning opportunities that don’t impede the students web browsing tasks.

To summarize the research results, the two month user evaluation of the ALOE prototype showed that the foreign vocabulary learning approach taken by ALOE works in practice.  Most of the participants enjoyed using ALOE and they were able to learn an average of fifty new vocabulary words.  It was also found that most of the participants wanted to continue using the ALOE prototype as-is but would have benefited from improvements in speed, Website compatibility, learning adaptability and the ability to customize ALOE.

To get all the nitty-gritty details and see the pretty data visualizations I created, feel free to peruse the full thesis:

Andrew Trusty – MSc Thesis – Augmenting the L1 Web for L2 Vocabulary Learning

Update: A shorter verson of my thesis was accepted to the 2011 ACM CHI Conference

The ALOE software currently isn’t available.  Releasing it will require a bit of work to remove all the study-specific hooks and cruft and setup a new server.  But if you’re interested in using it, leave a comment or contact me directly to let me know.  If there’s enough interest I might find the time to release it.

Paper #45 accepted for AIIDE ’08

I just got the news that the research paper I wrote from my senior research project was accepted at the Fourth Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE-08)! I guess this means I’m a real scientist now. Too bad I’ll be busy starting grad school in Toronto when the conference takes place at Stanford.

The work was a continuation of my involvement in the Cognitive Computing Lab (CCL) at Georgia Tech. Building on my previous experience with the and the CCL’s case based reasoning system, Darmok, and the Stratagus game engine, I developed an offline plan adaptation algorithm under the direction of Santi Ontañón and Ashwin Ram. If you’re interested you can read the full paper – Stochastic Plan Optimization in Real-Time Strategy Games.

Warcraft II Map Classification

Warcraft II GruntI started working with a new research group in the Cognitive Computing Lab under Ashwin Ram this semester. The project I am working on is concentrated on using Case Based Reasoning techniques to easily develop AI opponents in video games. We are using Wargus, an open-source mod which allows you to play Warcraft 2 using the open-source Stratagus game engine, as the platform for our CBR research.

My contribution to the project was to develop a map classification system for Warcraft 2 maps which would provide additional features for the CBR engine. The system is a joint project between my Pattern Recognition class professor Jim Rehg and the CCL researchers Santi Ontañón and Manish Mehta. It was also a good starter project for getting more familiar with the architecture of their system since I plan on continuing to work with the group for my senior research project.

Continue reading “Warcraft II Map Classification”

Copying as Creating

This summer in Barcelona I took the ethics class, Computers & Society, co-taught by Merrick Furst and Irfan Essa. I composed a paper for the class on the importance of copying as a valid form of creation. I argue that the longer and more prohibitive copyrights of modern day harm our culture and creativity by tracing the use of copying in the past. I attempted to provide a new look at the the issue of modern copyright law with respect to past views of copyright.

Copying as Creating – Andrew Trusty (pdf)

Technology vs Culture

In taking the graduate course, Design of Networked Media, taught by Ian Bogost I completed a term research paper on the issues facing our society as we come to depend more and more on technology and the costs we may be incurring. The process of writing it was an eye-opening experience for me because even though technology is so embedded in my everyday life I don’t often take the time to think about the side effects.

Technology vs Culture – Andrew Trusty (pdf)