Cerego releases iKnow! social language learning platform

Web learning is taking a leap forward today as Cerego releases a social learning platform that lets people learn languages together. The iKnow! platform, unveiled in September at the DEMOfall conference, goes live today with 188 languages.

It’s one of a number of Web 2.0 meets distance-learning concepts that have been funded in the past few years. But it may prove to be very powerful for people because it ties the learning process to personally-relevant content

The iKnow! platform combines brain research with the social web to create efficient ways to learn. You can learn any combination of languages, from Farsi to English or Mandarin to Spanish. A text-to-speech module (developed by the Acapela Group) lets people hear word pronunciation.

The free web site has 340,000 registered users who have spent over 16 million minutes in the past 30 days on the site. The users can quickly create their own sample sentences, which are then automatically translated into another language. They can create timed tests or add images to help with recall. Other users can correct, flag and discuss the items and add them to their own study lists.

The Tokyo-based company takes the notion of remixing music and applies it to learning. Jan Plass, a learning researcher and co-director of the Institute for Games for Learning at New York University, said iKnow! is unique because it recognizes that learning is an inherently social process. With the text-to-speech technology, the platform can automatically generate audio for all of the sentences someone writes.

Andrew Smith Lewis, founder and chairman of Cerego, said that the company is built on social learning in general — the language learning tool is just the first to be released. The company was founded in 2000 and has raised $20 million to date, mostly from wealthy individuals The one institutional investor is Japan’s Nikko Antfactory. It has 22 employees.


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