Today, they announced another big update – adding a ton of new languages to the feature that translates images of text, along with what they say are improvements that will make the voice translation ability work better:
We started out with seven languages—English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish—and today we’re adding 20 more. You can now translate to and from English and Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Indonesian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian. You can also do one-way translations from English to Hindi and Thai. (Or, try snapping a pic of the text you’d like translated—we have a total of 37 languages in camera mode.)
I’ve embedded a cute video below where they’re showing off using the new languages in the visual mode.
I’ve found the real-time voice translation feature not very workable in classroom situations, but perhaps these new updates will mitigate those problems.
The visual text feature, on the other hand, has come in quite handy for some students. As the video shows, you just set the language of the text you want translated and the language you want it translated into, click the camera icon, point it at the text, and it shows you the translated image. As the video also shows, it works great with large text. It works well with small text when I’m using my iPhone 6, but students have found in the past it doesn’t work nearly as well with lower-end smartphones. I don’t know if this new update will fix that issue or not.
However, in reviewing what this “new” program does, I don’t see anything new in it apart from Google providing connections free in the three cities where they have Google Fiber, and one Native American-owned utility providing it free to their local public housing residents.
Everything else, except for a bunch of “training” with very questionable value, is already available under Comcast’s free program and the expansion the FCC ordered all cable companies to do.
Perhaps I’m missing something – let me know if I am. I just get concerned that pseudo big new programs provide the illusion that something is being done when it isn’t, and then reduces the likelihood of real solutions actually occurring….
The same article also mentioned a nice site called MathTrain.TV set-up by a California middle school teacher. His students create videos – much more engaging ones, I might add, than what you’ll see at The Khan Academy — teaching math concepts to an authentic audience.
In another somewhat futile attempt to reduce the backlog of resources I want to share, I’m starting this weekly “Ed Tech Digest” post where I’ll share three or four links I think are particularly useful and related to…ed tech:
I’ve previously posted several times about how much I love theShadow Puppet app— there isn’t anything out there that’s an easier tool for creating a quick audio-narrated slideshow. It’s perfect for English Language Learners. Recently, the company behind Shadow Puppet has just released another new and free educational app that looks like it could be very useful. It’s calledSeesaw, and basically lets students easily create digital portfolios that can be shared with teachers and parents. It’s free for teachers and students, and has a free and paid version for parents.
In order to be able to use it for voice or video calling, however, you still have to download a plugin. Much to my surprise, however, my school computer, which has a zillion restrictions on what can and cannot be downloaded, let me do it.
This can come in quite handy now for teachers whose districts restrict software downloads, and could make it easier for class conversations with authors, other classes, etc.