ACORNS User Manual - Southern Oregon University

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ACORNS User Manual
[A][C]quisition [O]f [R]estored [N]ative [S]peech
The purpose of the ACORNS software package is to support language revitalization efforts of Native
American tribes. Its name, [AC]quisition [O]f [R]estored [N]ative [S]peech, reflects this purpose. Also,
as the Acorn is sacred to the tribes of Northern California and Southern Oregon, the name ACORNS is
chosen in honor of the tribes who helped spawn this effort.
ACORNS software runs on all major desktop computer platforms. Lessons created by ACORNS will
successfully run on mobile devices using popular browser applications. We anticipate that this be a
long term development project and eagerly seek your comments and feedback.
ACORNS is freeware and can be used for any non-commercial legal purpose and can be installed on as
many computers as you wish. We hope that the software prove useful but provide no guarantees to its
suitability. The author of the original program, Dan Harvey from Southern Oregon University, retains
full copyright privileges. Because of its purpose to support tribal revitalization, we do not want the
software sold for profit. Use of the software implies agreement with these terms. Please feel free to
contact the author (harveyd@sou.edu) if you have any questions or comments regarding permissible
use.
In the future, we plan to release the source codes. Distribution will then be subject to Open Source
GNU licensing whose licensing terms are described at HTTP://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 General Operation .................................................................................................................... 5
Section 1.1 ACORNS icons and menu options ..................................................................................... 6
Chapter 2 Work with ACORNS Files ....................................................................................................... 8
Section 2.1 Create ACORNS files ........................................................................................................ 8
Section 2.2 Open an ACORNS file ...................................................................................................... 9
Section 2.3 Save your work ................................................................................................................ 10
Section 2.5 Import a file after export .................................................................................................. 12
Section 2.6 Close a file when you are finished ................................................................................... 13
Section 2.7 ACORNS file properties .................................................................................................. 13
Section 2.8 Delete ACORNS files ...................................................................................................... 14
Section 2.9 Create a web page or a mobile application ...................................................................... 14
Section 2.10 Windows for multiple open files .................................................................................... 19
Section 2.11 Print and print preview ................................................................................................... 20
Chapter 3 Work with Language Lessons ................................................................................................ 22
Section 3.1 Create a language lesson .................................................................................................. 22
Section 3.2 Edit lesson header information ........................................................................................ 23
Section 3.3 Navigate between lessons ................................................................................................ 24
Section 3.4 Alter lesson order ............................................................................................................. 25
Section 3.5 Copy and paste lessons .................................................................................................... 25
Section 3.6 Delete a lesson ................................................................................................................. 26
Chapter 4 Recover Lost Data .................................................................................................................. 27
Section 4.1 Undo and redo .................................................................................................................. 27
Section 4.2 Recover data from backup files ....................................................................................... 27
Chapter 5 Help Facilities......................................................................................................................... 28
Section 5.1 Feedback messages .......................................................................................................... 28
Section 5.2 Tooltips ............................................................................................................................. 28
Section 5.3 Context-based help ........................................................................................................... 28
Section 5.4 Full featured help facility ................................................................................................. 29
Subsection 5.4.1 Table of contents .................................................................................................. 29
Subsection 5.4.2 Index .................................................................................................................... 30
Subsection 5.4.3 Search .................................................................................................................. 30
Section 5.5 About the ACORNS program .......................................................................................... 31
Chapter 6 Other Options ......................................................................................................................... 32
Section 6.1 Indigenous fonts ............................................................................................................... 32
Section 6.2 Embedded fonts and keyboard layouts ............................................................................ 33
Section 6.3 Audio feedback ................................................................................................................ 34
Section 6.4 Options command ............................................................................................................ 35
Section 6.5 Audio recording options ................................................................................................... 35
Section 6.6 Convert video to animated pictures ........................................................................ 36
Chapter 7 Prepare Lessons for Use ......................................................................................................... 39
Section 7.1 Work with pictures ........................................................................................................... 39
Subsection 7.1.1 Insert pictures ...................................................................................................... 39
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Subsection 7.1.2 Remove pictures .................................................................................................. 40
Section 7.2 Record sounds .................................................................................................................. 40
Section 7.3 Setup secondary tool bar .................................................................................................. 42
Subsection 7.3.1 Lesson links .......................................................................................................... 43
Subsection 7.3.2 Lesson layers ....................................................................................................... 43
Subsection 7.3.3 Title and help ....................................................................................................... 44
Subsection 7.3.4 Foreground and background colors .................................................................... 45
Subsection 7.3.5 Rotate pictures .................................................................................................... 45
Chapter 8 Execute Lessons: Execution (Play) Mode .............................................................................. 46
Section 8.1 Lesson execution controls ................................................................................................ 46
Section 8.2 Exit execution mode......................................................................................................... 47
Chapter 9 Picture and Sound Lessons ..................................................................................................... 48
Section 9.1 Picture and Sound setup mode ......................................................................................... 48
Section 9.2 Execute Picture and Sound lessons .................................................................................. 49
Chapter 10 Lessons with Multiple Pictures ............................................................................................ 53
Section 10.1 Insert pictures ................................................................................................................. 53
Section 10.2 Setup mode for lessons with multiple pictures .............................................................. 53
Section 10.3 Multiple Choice lessons ................................................................................................. 54
Subsection 10.3.1 Execute Multiple Choice lessons ....................................................................... 54
Subsection 10.3.2 Multiple Choice execution options .................................................................... 55
Section 10.4 Flash Card lesson ........................................................................................................... 56
Subsection 10.4.1 Flash Card execution options ............................................................................ 57
Section 10.5 Moving Picture lessons .................................................................................................. 57
Section 10.6 Pictionary lessons ........................................................................................................... 57
Chapter 11 Story-based Lessons ............................................................................................................. 59
Section 11.1 Sound editor features ...................................................................................................... 59
Subsection 11.1.1 Recorder button group ....................................................................................... 59
Subsection 11.1.2 Zoom features ..................................................................................................... 60
Subsection 11.1.3 Selections within a recording ............................................................................. 60
Subsection 11.1.4 File management, undo, and redo features ........................................................ 60
Subsection 11.1.5 Edit a recording ................................................................................................. 61
Subsection 11.1.6 Sound volume controls ....................................................................................... 61
Section 11.2 Story Book lessons ......................................................................................................... 61
Subsection 11.2.1 Story Book lesson secondary toolbar and other options.................................... 62
Subsection 11.2.2 Story Book lesson sound panel ........................................................................... 63
Subsection 11.2.3 Story Book lesson text entry ............................................................................... 63
Subsection 11.2.4 Execute a Story Book lesson .............................................................................. 63
Section 11.3 Hear and Respond lessons .............................................................................................. 64
Subsection 11.3.1 Annotate the audio recording ............................................................................. 66
Subsection 11.3.2 Execute a Hear and Respond lesson .................................................................. 67
Subsection 11.3.3 Hear and Respond execution options................................................................. 68
Section 11.4 Hear and Click lessons ................................................................................................... 69
Subsection 11.4.1 Hear and Click setup mode ................................................................................ 69
Subsection 11.4.2 Picture annotations ............................................................................................ 69
Subsection 11.4.3 Execute a Hear and Click lesson ....................................................................... 72
Subsection 11.4.4 Hear and Click execution mode options ............................................................ 73
Chapter 12 Topics-based Lessons ........................................................................................................... 75
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Section 12.1 Topics-based lesson setup .............................................................................................. 75
Subsection 12.1.1 Modify the list of topic categories .................................................................... 76
Subsection 12.1.2 Select and deselect ............................................................................................. 76
Subsection 12.1.3 Insert pictures ................................................................................................... 76
Subsection 12.1.4 Attach category sentences and audio .............................................................. 76
Subsection 12.1.5 Secondary toolbar options ................................................................................ 77
Section 12.2 Magnet Game lessons ................................................................................................ 77
Subsection 12.2.1 Magnet Game execution .................................................................................... 78
Subsection 12.2.2 Magnet game execution options ........................................................................ 79
Section 12.3 Question and Answer lessons ......................................................................................... 79
Chapter 13 The Sound Editor.................................................................................................................. 81
Section 13.1 Sound Editor options ...................................................................................................... 82
Section 13.2 Sound editor panels ........................................................................................................ 83
Subsection 13.2.1 Record ................................................................................................................ 83
Subsection 13.2.2 Zoom .................................................................................................................. 83
Subsection 13.2.3 File management ............................................................................................... 84
Subsection 13.2.4 Edit audio........................................................................................................... 84
Subsection 13.2.5 Speed .................................................................................................................. 84
Subsection 13.2.6 Volume................................................................................................................ 84
Subsection 13.2.7 Display modes .................................................................................................... 85
Subsection 13.2.8 Selection ............................................................................................................. 85
Subsection 13.2.9 Undo and redo ................................................................................................... 86
Subsection 13.2.10 Gloss and native text ........................................................................................ 86
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Chapter 1 General Operation
Figure 1-1 Acorns application frame
Clicking the ACORNS icon brings up a frame like the one in Figure 1-1. Notice that many of the icons
on the tool bar are ghosted (faded); this means they are not yet enabled. You can enable most of them
simply by opening or creating an ACORNS file.
The ACORNS program operates in ways similar to many popular presentation programs, like Power
Point for instance. However, instead of composing slides to be displayed in a Power Point slide show,
we create a file of language lessons to be used interactively when a student executes them. It is our
hope that this popular interface concept will be intuitive and easy to learn.
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Section 1.1 ACORNS icons and menu options
Figure 1-2 offers a closer view of the icons we saw at the top of the ACORNS frame in Figure 1-1.
Clicking these icons will trigger one of the more common operations that ACORNS performs. (Less
common operations are not found on the tool bar; they can be accessed in other ways.) If you rest your
mouse over any of the icons shown, a short description of its operation will appear.
Figure 1-2 ACORNS icon toolbar
Figure 1-3 ACORNS dropdown menu
There is an alternate method for executing ACORNS options. At the top of the frame is a series of
menu selections. Figure 1-3 shows what happens if you click the File selection: a list of clickable
options drops down.
Note that the most commonly used options in Figure 1-3 have an icon next to them. Less common
options do not; for example, look at the Properties option. If all the menu options had icons, the
ACORNS frame would grow quite cluttered.
In Figure 1-3, the menu also indicates hot-key, or shortcut, options. For example, Ctrl-N means that the
user can trigger the New option by typing command (control – n). In other words, hold down the
control key, tap the N key; then release the control key. (Note: On MAC systems, the shortcut is
command – n.)
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Some of the ACORNS options have multiple levels of menus, as shown in Figure 1-4. In this case, we
click the Edit menu, then the move the mouse to the Modify option (edit - modify). This triggers a
second-level menu with further options: Lesson and Fonts. Any option that has a second-level menu
will have a small arrow to its right. Thus in the example below we can see that the Insert and Delete
options also have second-level menus.
Figure 1-4 Multi-level menu
Note that the Undo, Redo, Copy Lesson, Paste Lesson, and Lesson options are ghosted. They require an
active lesson to enable.
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Chapter 2 Work with ACORNS Files
An ACORNS file is a collection containing one or more language lessons. This chapter describes how
to manage a file of language lessons. For example, we might want to create a new file; open a file
previously created; close a file after use; or modify the properties associated with a file. This chapter
describes these and other operations in the sections that follow.
Section 2.1 Create ACORNS files
The easiest way to create a new file is to click the leftmost icon at the top of the ACORNS frame (recall
Figure 1-2). It looks like a blank sheet of paper with the top-right edge folder over. When you click this
icon, your display will show as Figure 2- 1.
Figure 2- 1 ACORNS after creating a file
Notice that the frame has two display areas. The left side will display a list of language lessons. The
right side will show the current lesson. To this point, we've only created the file, so no lessons are
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shown as yet. Now find the two gray arrows just below the icon bar, between the display areas. If you
should ever want to hide the Lesson List and expand the Lesson Display, click the arrow pointing to the
left. You can later restore the Lesson List by clicking the arrow pointing to the right.
Section 2.2 Open an ACORNS file
Opening a file means getting it back so you can work on it some more. As with other options, there are
several ways to do this. On the tool bar, simply click the Open icon, second from the left (recall Figure
1-2). This icon shows an opening yellow folder. Alternatively, Figure 2- 2 provides a display showing
how you can open a file through the drop-down menu (file – open), where you will see the same icon.
You can also use the hot-key (control – o or command – o) to open an existing file.
Figure 2- 2File dropdown menu
No matter which of these methods you choose, the Open option triggers a dialog where you can browse
for your file. In Figure 2- 3, for example, we see the Mac version. Notice that the button at the bottom
says Open. Using this dialog, if you see your file listed, you can click on it and then click the open
button. Otherwise, you click the dropdown arrow to show a list of folders that you can navigate through
your system folders to find your ACORNS files, which have .lnx (L-N-X) extensions. This navigation
technique is common to most applications on your system, so we won’t discuss it further here.
There are actually several additional ways to open a file. (1) If you've worked with a file recently, it
will be listed on the bottom of the File drop-down menu with other recently opened files (see the
bottom of Figure 2- 2) and the most recently opened file appears at the top of the list. Simply click the
one you want to open. (2) On Windows or Mac systems, you can find your ACORNS files by
navigating through your file system folders to the one containing your ACORNS files. If you are
looking at the contents of a folder in your directory and you want to open one of the files listed, simply
double-click the one you want. This will launch the ACORNS program and open the file in one step.
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(3) If the ACORNS application is already running, you can drag the file from its folder and drop it on
the ACORNS program application window. (4) Finally, on MAC systems, you can drag the file over
the ACORNS application icon to launch the application with the file automatically open.
Figure 2- 3Open file dialog
Section 2.3 Save your work
When you are finished working with an ACORNS file, and periodically while you're working, you'll
want to save your work. Click either the Save or Save As icons on the tool bar. The Save icon is a
picture of a cassette (or, as some will recognize, a diskette). The Save As icon has a picture of two
diskettes. Of course, you can also trigger these options using the drop-down menu options: (file – save)
or (file – save as). Alternatively, the Save option has a shortcut key (control – s or command – s). It is a
good idea to save your work frequently. You wouldn't want to lose everything should there be an
interruption in power.
The difference between Save and Save As is this: Save As gives you a chance to select a new file name
and/or file folder (allowing you to locate your file in a different place in your computer). The Save
option uses the name and folder previously assigned. Of course, if you've not yet assigned it a name
because this is the first time you've saved, you will be asked to name your file. In other words, when
you save for the first time, there is no difference between Save and Save As.
If you don't type a name for your file when saving for the first time, ACORNS automatically assigns it;
it picks the title of the first lesson in the file. If there are no lessons yet added it will use a name like
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acorns01. In the latter case, it's a good idea to change the default. Not only is it hard to tell these names
apart, but ACORNS will run out of file names when it gets to acorns99. When naming files, a rule of
thumb is to use lower-case letters, keep the names short, and avoid using spaces. These conventions
will ensure that your file names function no matter which computer platform you might use in the
future. Another good suggestion is to save your ACORNS files consistently in the same folder. This
will save you confusion trying to locate your files when you want to work with them again.
Figure 2- 4 shows the dialog you'll see if you are saving your work on a MAC. It might look different
on other platforms, like Windows XP. This is because it will follow your platform's standard. Note that
the dialog is very similar to that of Figure 2- 3 for opening files. The difference is that the button on the
bottom says save instead of open.
Figure 2- 4 File save dialog
Section 2.4 Export a file
Export your files when you want to format them for archival purposes. The Save option is not sufficient
for this, because when you save, ACORNS stores your file in an internal format which external
programs cannot understand. However, the Export option preserves multimedia, audio, and video in
standard formats, and saves lesson data in a universally understood text-based XML file. When you
Export, ACORNS creates an XML file (filename.xml) where filename is the name of your file. The
ACORNS program also creates a folder with the same name (but without an .xml extension) that
contains all of your audio and pictures. Other multimedia applications understand how to access these
files.
Export makes it is easy to program external applications to work with your lessons. In this way, we
solve one of the historic problems with linguistics data: in past years, linguistics programs utilized
proprietary formats that were lost as soon as the program that generated the data was no longer
supported.
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The Export icon on the ACORNS toolbar looks like an open book with a red arrow pointing out of the
book. You can either click the Export tool bar icon, or click (file – export) from the drop-down menu.
The Export dialog, shown in Figure 2- 5 (this time we show the dialog as it displays on Windows
systems), works much like Save and Save As. It gives you an opportunity to name your file and choose
a folder in which to store it.
You also have a chance to change your file's audio and video format to all the choices available on your
system– but be careful choosing from the options provided. While the defaults are compatible with all
major computer platforms, some of the formats offered are not. For example spx is an audio format
designed specifically for speech. It compresses speech better than the other formats, so it is good for
web-page applications, greatly reducing download time. However, it has two disadvantages. First, not
all media players can use this format. Second, though playback is quite efficient, it takes longer to
encode files in this format.
Figure 2- 5 Export file dialog
Section 2.5 Import a file after export
The Open procedure will not work for files that you've exported. To get these back, you need to use the
Import option. The Import icon looks like an open book with a red arrow pointing into the book. You
can either click the Import tool bar icon, or click (file – import) from the drop-down menu. A dialog
will appear, letting you browse for your exported file. This dialog looks much like the one used for
opening files, except that now you will be choosing files with the XML extension at the end of their
name. After importing a file, you can save it using the Save option, or export it again. Remember: you
use the Open option to work on files that were saved and the Import option to work on files that were
exported.
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Section 2.6 Close a file when you are finished
If you are finished working with a file, use the Close command. The Close icon appears as a red X. You
can also select Close from the drop-down File menu. Should you forget to save before closing;
ACORNS will remind you with an alert message, as shown in Figure 2- 6. If you don't want to keep the
changes made since your last save, click the No button. Clicking Yes will save your work under the
name you've previously assigned to the file. If you click Yes for a file that doesn't yet have a name,
ACORNS will assign it the default name acorns## (or it will choose the title of the first lesson in the
file). Instead of clicking Yes in this case, it's a good idea to click Cancel; then use the Save As option.
Once the file is saved, you can again try the close option.
Figure 2- 6 Close file dialog
Section 2.7 ACORNS file properties
One of the options you can select from the File menu is Properties. When you select this option, a
dialog appears as shown in Figure 2- 7. Here you can indicate the language to which your file applies,
the author who created the file, and a description of the lessons in the file. At present, these data are
optional and for informational purposes only. You can ignore this entry if you wish.
Figure 2- 7 File properties
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Section 2.8 Delete ACORNS files
Occasionally, you might want to remove an ACORNS file from your computer. You can do this by
finding the files in the Operating System folders. Alternatively, you can use the ACORNS menu option
and click (edit – delete – file). A file-chooser dialog will come up, allowing you to select the files you
want to delete. In fact, you can select any file, not just ACORNS files – so be careful when you use this
option.
Section 2.9 Create a web page or a mobile application
The ACORNS application can create web pages out of the lessons in your files. Even if you never
upload your work to Web servers, you can save to a CD or thumb-drive and distribute it to students (or
anyone interested), allowing them to use your lessons without requiring them to install ACORNS
software. When they open your file, their browser window will launch your lessons, just as if your
lessons were a web site. Of course, you can also post your web pages online, allowing anyone with
Internet access to view them. In either case, this is an excellent way to publish your work. Note that this
is the way for you to let students to execute your lessons without being able to make alterations.
The ACORNS application provides two options for creating web pages. The first uses the Make Web
Page icon ( ); the second uses the Make Mobile Application icon ( ). Note that the Make Web Page
icon on your tool bar looks like a spider web, and the Make Mobile Application icon looks like a
mobile phone. You can also invoke either of these options from the ACORNS File menu.
The Make Web Page option was the standard way to generate web pages in previous versions of
ACORNS. It creates a Java Applet which runs on desktop browsers. Unfortunately, today’s popular
mobile devices no longer support Java, so this option is becoming less useful as technology standards
continue to evolve. ACORNS still provides this option to maintain upwards compatibility with
previous versions.
The Make Mobile Application option generates web pages that successfully run on browsers installed
on today’s popular mobile devices. ACORNS mobile web pages automatically configure themselves to
varying display sizes and recognize when the devices are in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal)
mode. Note, however, that some browsers, at this time, do not yet support all of the web-based industry
standards. For example, Firefox (Fennec) browsers do not support indigenous fonts or dragging and
dropping portions of web-pages. Explorer browsers do not fully support audio playback and require
indigenous fonts to be stored in a proprietary eot format. Some browsers require two finger gestures to
scroll portions of web-pages, whereas most support single finger touch scrolling. We advise, therefore,
that you download/install browsers that work best for your tribal applications. Chrome, Safari, and
Opera are examples of popular mobile browsers that are reasonably up to date.
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The ACORNS dialog for creating web pages looks much like the one we used for exporting files,
except that it includes some fields that allow you to customize how the web page will look. Figure 2- 8
shows an example of the Create Web Page dialog. Figure 2- 10 shows an example of using the Create
Mobile Application dialog.
Figure 2- 8 Web-page creation dialog
In the center of the dialog screen, there are options that give you some control over the audio and
picture formats that the program creates. The defaults are the most universal, so in general, go with
these.
Note the box titled "Web Page Options", which shows to the left of the figure. The default title comes
from the active lesson, i.e., the lesson highlighted in the Lesson List. (You created this title when you
added that lesson to the file.) However, you might want to change the title in this field to something
representative of all the lessons in your file, not just the active one. Whatever title you choose, it will
serve to identify your web page.
To alter the size of your web page, change the default width and height. An error message will show on
the bottom line of the ACORNS frame should you enter an illegal value.
The background color you choose will fill the area on the web page that surrounds the Lesson Display.
The default is a light gray. A sample of the active color shows to the right of the Color icon, which is
marked by a hand with three colored squares (recall Figure 2- 8). To change the default, click this icon
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and a color palette will appear as in Figure 2- 9. You can try several colors; simply click the one you
prefer. To restore the original color, click the Reset button; or if you like the new color, click OK to
apply it. Clicking Cancel allows you to exit the color chooser, with no changes made. When you leave
the color palette, your selected color will appear in the Web Page dialog to the right of the Color icon.
Figure 2- 9 Color chooser dialog
Note that you can navigate to the folder where you want to save your web-page. This procedure is very
similar to the Open, Close, Import, and Export options described earlier in this chapter. It is a good idea
to consistently store your web-pages in a designated folder. This way you can easily locate them at a
later date.
Figure 2- 10 shows the dialog for creating a mobile application. This dialog is simpler than the one just
described, but you can still override the title of the web-page. There is also a check box indicating
whether audio recording is enabled. This option works in desktop browsers, and allows students to
record and playback their recorded voice to compare their speech to those of expert speakers. It does
not yet work in mobile browsers, because the ability to record from a browser is still considered to be a
security risk. Note, however, that there are draft W3C proposals that under consideration, so this
restriction is likely to be relaxed in the near future when these proposals become industry-standard. For
now, it is a good idea to go with the default, which is to keep the audio recording option disabled.
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Figure 2- 10 Mobile web-page creation dialog
There is another factor to consider when you create mobile web applications. This is: how do you get
your application to the mobile device? Of course, you can always post your web pages to a tribal
server; but the download process can be time consuming, which can make for a less-than-desirable user
experience. You might choose instead to port the pages directly to the mobile devices. On Androidbased devices, the process is relatively simple. You can connect a USB cable from computer to device,
and then copy files back and forth. Once an ACORNS lesson web-page is on the local device, it can
execute using the local browser, by typing something like the following into your browser’s address
bar: file://localhost/sdcard/acorns/myLesson.html. Note that you type file:// instead of http://, localhost
refers to the local computer, sdcard refers to the storage device, acorns is a folder that you create to
hold your acorns lessons, and myLesson.html is the name of the web-page created by the ACORNS
application. (Note: on some devices /mnt must follow localhost; on others, leave off sdcard entirely.)
Note: ACORNS creates a file for each web-page it creates (myLesson.html in the above example) and
also a folder (same name, but without the extension) with all of the associated audio and picture
components. Make sure you copy both the web-page file and the folder to your mobile device; the webpage will not work without the corresponding folder of multimedia components. A summary of the
steps we just explained follow:
1. On your desktop or laptop computer, create your lessons using the ACORNS application.
2. Click the Make Mobile Application icon to create your mobile web page. By default, ACORNS
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will create the necessary web pages and multimedia subfolder within a primary folder called
acornsFiles. This folder resides on your computer in your user directory.
Connect a USB cable from your desktop or laptop computer to the mobile device.
Create an acorns folder on the sdcard to hold your ACORNS web-pages.
Copy the html file and associated multimedia folders to this ACORNS folder.
Execute the web-page from the mobile device browser.
There is another approach that you might find less complicated. Furthermore, on Apple devices (iPad,
iPod and iPhone), you cannot simply copy files back and forth unless you jailbreak the device, which is
not normally advisable. The following steps summarize the steps needed. (Note that these steps are
useful even if you don’t use ACORNS. They allow you to sync your files so they are automatically
available on multiple devices.)
1. Sign up with a cloud-based service, which provides up to 5 GB of storage for free. As
mentioned above, syncing to the cloud is useful if you want to create files that are automatically
available to all your desktop/laptop/mobile computers. There are five cloud-based services that
dominate the industry at this time. These are DropBox, SugarSync, Google Drive, Microsoft
Skydrive, and Apple iCloud. I’ll focus on DropBox in the following discussion, since this
service is very popular and it accommodates all mobile device platforms.
2. Download and install DropBox on all of your computer devices.
3. Move whatever files/folders you want to sync to a designated DropBox directory. In the case of
ACORNS, make sure to move both the web-pages and the associated multimedia folders to the
DropBox directory. Whatever is in this directory is automatically synced.
4. Indicate which synced files you want to be publically sharable. DropBox emails an internet link
to you for these, which you can then supply to whoever you wish. If you make the ACORNS
html lesson files sharable, anyone with the proper internet link can execute those lesson on their
mobile devices. Many mobile browsers let users save a web page to their home page, which
caches the page for faster subsequent loads. This is one way to minimize long download times.
5. If you want to directly download an ACORNS web-page to a mobile device, compress the html
file and the associated multimedia folder into a single file and then make that compressed file
sharable. Compressing, in this way is a simple process and there are lots of instructional
tutorials describing how to do this. For example, on Window systems, select a group of files
that you want to compress, right click, and then click “Send to compressed (zipped) folder”.
6. To download the compressed folder of files, you likely will need to install a decompression
utility program on your mobile device. On my Apple devices, I use the MyMedia manager
application, which is free and is available in Apple’s App store. There are other application
choices that do the same thing, all reasonably priced.
7. Once you install MyMedia, or a similar application, from DropBox, open the compressed file
using the MyMedia application, which will proceed to decompress. Once this is done, you will
be able to open the contents using a standard browser.
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There is one final consideration, which is important if your tribe uses custom indigenous fonts. Many
mobile devices do not allow you to install custom fonts. Furthermore, embedding fonts directly in a
web-page is desirable because users don’t have to install the fonts locally, even if this were possible.
On your desktop (or laptop) computer, ACORNS creates an acornsFiles directory (within your user
directory), with a sub-folder called Fonts. Simply move your indigenous .ttf font files to this directory.
ACORNS will do the rest. Whenever ACORNS creates web-pages, the font files within the Fonts
directory are automatically embedded into the web-pages that it creates.
Section 2.10 Windows for multiple open files
Sometimes it is convenient to work on multiple ACORNS files at once. Figure 2- 11 shows how the
Windows menu options appear when three files are open at the same time. The check mark indicates
the active file, which will appear in the Lesson Display area. You can switch the active file by clicking
any of the other files listed.
Figure 2- 11 Windows commands
You can display multiple open files in several ways. Full Screen view is the default. It displays your
files one at a time with no tabs. To switch between files in Full Screen, you need to go to the dropdown Window menu, shown in Figure 2- 11 and click Full Screen.
Figure 2- 12 Tabbed view of open files
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Tabbed View (Figure 2- 12) works much like the tabs in a web browser, placing each new file on its
own tab within the same window. You activate this view by clicking on Tabbed View in the Figure 2- 11
drop down menu. The ACORNS program shows your tabs in the display area, allowing you to navigate
quickly and easily between them. Just click the tab with the name of the file you want. The figure
above illustrates the tabbed view, where the active lesson is about shapes. Notice the white tab bar at
the top of the Lesson Display area; the selected file name is highlighted in blue. Meanwhile, Figure 213 presents the full screen view, where the active file is a lesson about horses.
Figure 2- 13 Full view of open files
Section 2.11 Print and print preview
Often you might want a hardcopy printout of the information contained in a lesson. The Print and Print
Preview commands are provided for this purpose. Print Preview, shown in Figure 2- 14 allows you to
view the information before it prints. Note that you can alter the zoom by selecting a percentage value.
Higher values will display the information in more detail, but you'll have to scroll to view it all. With
lower values, you can view your page as small as a thumbnail. The default, shown below, is a 10% size.
To print, simply click the Print button and then select the printer you want and optionally, a range of
pages to print. If you want to exit without printing, click the Close button.
The icons for Print and Print Preview should be familiar, as they are standard for most applications.
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The Print icon is marked by the image of a printer. The Print Preview icon shows a page beneath a
magnifying glass. These commands can also be found under the File menu. Additionally, Print has a
shortcut key (control – p or command – p).
Figure 2- 14Print Preview
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Chapter 3 Work with Language Lessons
Once you create a file, the next step is to create a language lesson. There are two modes of operation
when working with language lessons. The first is Setup Mode where you go through the steps needed
to prepare a lesson for execution. The second step is executing that lesson. For those comfortable with
the Microsoft Power Point application, the interface is similar. The difference is that instead of creating
a file of slides for a presentation, we create lessons for learning language. Instead of presenting a slide
show, we execute language lessons that interact with a student.
Section 3.1 Create a language lesson
To create a language lesson, click the tool bar icon with the light bulb. (You can remember this by the
phrase, “The light bulb went on!” meaning you got a bright idea about what kind of lesson you want to
create.) As described above, you can also trigger this option by going through the Edit menu (edit –
insert – lesson) or using the hot-key (control – l or command – l). In any case, the dialog box shown in
Figure 3-1 will appear, and you will be able to enter your Lesson Header data.
Figure 3-1 Create lesson dialog
You are required to make at least two inputs at this point. First, click the drop-down arrows beside the
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Please Make a Selection field; then select a lesson type. We'll describe the differences between lesson
types in subsequent chapters. ACORNS supports a variety of lesson types; and we expect that this list
will expand as we continue to enhance the ACORNS application.
The second required entry is the lesson title. You can choose any title you like to identify your lesson.
You're not required to make an entry in the Lesson Name field, but this is an important option. Later
you will learn how to build links between lessons in your file; to do this you will need a lesson name.
It's a good idea to choose a short, one- or two-word name, which you find easy to remember.
The Lesson Description is for informational purposes only. In the future, we may implement search
engine features to locate lessons according to what this field contains. The Lesson Description allows
you to state the lesson's purpose in your own words, free-form. You may leave this field blank for now
if you wish.
Every lesson type can have up to ten layers and you can identify each of these layers with a descriptive
name. Students will see these names when the lesson executes. Lesson layers can be used to reflect
particular language dialects or perhaps, levels of difficulty. You are free to use the different layers for
whatever purpose you desire. In Section 6.4, we describe how you can standardize layer names, so you
don’t have to type these descriptions each time you create a new lesson. If you don’t plan to utilize the
layer feature, you can leave the layer name fields blank.
When you're done, click Yes. Your Lesson Header will display in the Lesson List area, as shown below
in Figure 3-2 which shows the header for a Picture and Sound lesson.
Figure 3-2 A created Picture and Sound lesson header
Section 3.2 Edit lesson header information
Even after entering your Lesson Header, you can easily change its data if you like. There are two ways
to do this. The first is through the Edit menu (edit – modify – lesson). You'll note that the Lesson option
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will be active now, not ghosted as it was before (recall Figure 1-2). The second method is to click the
Lesson List button in the list area, calling up the menu shown in Figure 3-3. Click Modify Lesson to
display the dialog we saw in Figure 3-1. You can change anything you like except for the lesson type.
That field cannot be changed.
Alternatively, you can change lesson or layer names by directly typing into the text fields of the Lesson
List (shown in Figure 3-2).
Figure 3-3 Change the lesson header
Section 3.3 Navigate between lessons
A single ACORNS file can contain many language lessons. It is important to have an easy way to
switch from one to another. One way to switch between lessons is simply to click the desired lesson
from the Lesson List. (You might have to scroll if there are more lessons than can fit in the Lesson List
display area.) A second method is to use the navigation buttons shown at the bottom of the Lesson List
area (Figure 3-4). Note that the <<, <, >, and >> buttons respectively switch to the first, previous, next,
and last lessons in the ACORNS file, respectively.
Figure 3-4 Lesson navigation buttons
A third way to navigate between lessons is to use the keyboard Home, Page Down, Page Up and End
keys on your keyboard. These keys work just like the navigation buttons we just described.
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Section 3.4 Alter lesson order
If you create a file with lots of lessons, you might want to change their order. For example, in Figure
3-5, you might want Lesson 2 to become Lesson 1, and vice versa. Simply move your mouse over
Lesson 2 in the Lesson List, press and drag. A horizontal line will appear marked by an acorn in its
middle. Where this line rests is where Lesson 2 will be inserted when you let up on the mouse.
Figure 3-5 An ACORNS file with two lessons
Section 3.5 Copy and paste lessons
Sometimes, you might want to use the same lesson in more than one ACORNS file. The Copy and
Paste options make this task easy, so you do not have to recreate the lesson from scratch. To copy the
currently active lesson (the one showing in the ACORNS lesson display area), you can click on the edit
drop down menu, and then choose copy lesson. You can instead, if you wish, use the shortcut key
control – c (or command – c), which is standard across many applications. When you execute this
option, ACORNS copies your lesson to a system wide clipboard. You then are safe to switch to another
file using the Window drop down menu commands. You can also paste into the same file if you wish.
Position to where you want the lesson to go, and then execute the paste lesson option. The paste option
is also on the edit drop down menu. Alternatively, you can use the shortcut key, control – v (or
command – v), again standard across many applications. Your lesson now will be part of the new file.
Note that this copy paste operation is possible when you have more than one instance of the ACORNS
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application running. You can copy a lesson from one instance and paste it to another.
For some lesson types, you can use the paste option to change the lesson type. For example, you can
copy a Multiple Choice lesson and then paste it as a Flash Card lesson. This is convenient because you
won’t have to recreate the whole lesson. When it is possible to change the lesson type, the paste option
will display a drop down menu, similar to the one shown in Figure 3-6. Simply, click on the arrow
pointing down and then select the lesson type that you want.
Figure 3-6 Paste lesson type selection
Section 3.6 Delete a lesson
Occasionally, you might want to remove a lesson from your file. This is easy to do. Just click (edit –
delete – lesson). Another way is to click the Lesson List button (shown at the top of Figure 3-5) and
select the Remove Lesson option.
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Chapter 4 Recover Lost Data
Occasionally, we might make a mistake and inadvertently make changes to a file or to a lesson that are
incorrect. There are several facilities built into the ACORNS program to help recover from these kinds
of problems. This chapter describes these procedures.
Section 4.1 Undo and redo
The Undo and Redo commands have icons on the ACORNS main toolbar. The Undo command has an
icon with a picture of an arrow pointing to the left. Redo has an icon containing an arrow pointing to
the right. These commands can be found on the tool bar, as well as under the Edit menu. The standard
shortcut keys for these commands are (control – z or command – z) for Undo and (control – y or
command – y) for Redo.
Figure 4-1 Undo and redo icons
Undo is useful when you decide that a change you've made was a mistake. Clicking Undo will restore
the lesson to the way it was before you made the change. The Redo command is useful when, after
clicking Undo, you realize that the change you made wasn't a mistake after all. Clicking Redo will
restore the change. Note that Figure 4-1 shows Undo as ghosted, signifying that there are no changes to
undo. If we click Redo, the Undo button will activate and the Redo button will be ghosted.
Section 4.2 Recover data from backup files
When you save a file, the changes can no longer be recovered using the Undo and Redo options.
However, there is still a way to proceed.
When you save your work, the file is saved with an .lnx extension. (The extension should be typed in
lower case, but note the spelling, L-N-X.) Each time you perform subsequent saves, ACORNS
automatically creates a copy of your file as it was before you made any changes. Thus, if you make a
mistake in saving, all is not lost: you can restore the previous version. The earlier version, however,
will be saved with a .bak extension. The version older than that will be renamed with a .bk2 extension.
If you need to recover the previously saved files, simply rename the .bak file (or .bk2 file), making sure
to use an .lnx extension. The process of renaming varies from platform to platform. In Windows for
example, view the folder where your file is stored, right-click on the file, and select Rename.
Hopefully, if you are careful, you won't have to use this "last resort" feature very often, or at all.
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Chapter 5 Help Facilities
The ACORNS program includes several resources to help you learn the program. This chapter
describes these resources. If these approaches fail, there is a discussion forum at the ACORNS website. At that site, you can post questions or suggestions.
Section 5.1 Feedback messages
The most straight forward way to receive help is the bottom line of the ACORNS application frame.
This area presents confirmation or error messages that indicate whether a command executes
successfully or not. Recall that in our discussion about creating a web page, we learned that an error
message will appear here if you choose an inappropriate width or height for the web page that you are
creating. Figure 5-1 shows an example of the feedback message displayed after a new lesson is created.
It appears at the bottom of the ACORNS application window.
Figure 5-1 Feedback message
Section 5.2 Tooltips
Another help aid appears when you move your mouse over a text field or button. Most of the time,
ACORNS will provide a short description of the field or button in question. This facility is helpful if
you forget what a particular icon is for.
Section 5.3 Context-based help
There are specific help buttons that you can click to obtain a textual description of a particular option.
Recall Figure 3-3, for instance. Notice the Help option in the drop-down menu. Clicking this option
gives you a page of instructions regarding how the Lesson List works. There are other context-based
helps throughout the ACORNS application, and we'll come to these in the chapters where they apply.
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Section 5.4 Full featured help facility
A fully equipped help facility executes when you click the tool bar's Help icon, which pictures a yellow
question mark. You can also reach this feature by going through the drop-down Help menu. The
shortcut key for the help facility is function key one (F1). (If you use a Mac, make sure to click F1 with
the fn key depressed.) When you execute the Help command, a dialog like the one in Figure 5-2 will
display. It works much like a web browser. Note the four buttons at the top: the two on the left work
like Forward and Back buttons of a web browser, allowing you to navigate to previously viewed pages.
The Home button returns you to the overview page. The Print button triggers a hard-copy printout of
the page on display.
Figure 5-2 Help command
Subsection 5.4.1 Table of contents
This help facility has three modes of operation. This section describes the first mode, called Table of
Contents. Here you will see interactive options based on what you would find at the front of a book.
Whenever you see a right-facing arrow next to a line, it signifies that this is a category containing suboptions. To view them, simply click the line. The sub-options will drop down, and the "right" arrow
will change to a "down" arrow. If you would like to compress the sub-options again, simplifying your
table, just click the "down" arrow and watch them disappear. You can make them appear and disappear
as many times as you like. If a line does not contain sub-options, instead of an arrow, it will show the
image of a notebook page. Click this line, and information will appear in the display to the right.
For an illustration, note Figure 5-2. The line entitled Introduction is open, as you can see by the "down"
arrow to its left. It contains one sub-option, Overview, marked by a page instead of an arrow. Other
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lines show a "right" arrow, meaning they possess hidden sub-options. Meanwhile, on the right side of
the window, the selected sub-option Overview is available to read.
Subsection 5.4.2 Index
Figure 5-3 illustrates the Index mode of operation. It works in a similar way to the Table of Contents
mode, but with one difference. The left of the display is organized like the index of a book (by subject,
alphabetically), including a Find feature that allows you to search the Help database.
Figure 5-3 Index mode
Subsection 5.4.3 Search
In the Search mode of operation, when you enter a word in the Find field, the Help facility will display
a list of pages containing that word along with the sentence in the page that contains it. A particular
page might be listed more than once, indicating that more than one match exists on that page.
In Figure 5-4, we are searching for the word "sound." A list of all the pages containing it display on the
left. The first matching page displays on the right, highlighting the word "sound" wherever it appears.
Click any of the pages shown on the left, and it will display on the right. Note that page 7 shows twice.
This is because the word "sound" occurs twice on that page.
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Figure 5-4 Search mode
Section 5.5 About the ACORNS program
The About option can be found under the Help menu. When you trigger this option, you will see
information about the current version of the program, as well as email and web site contact
information. Figure 5-5 gives an example of what this display looks like.
Figure 5-5 About ACORNS
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Chapter 6 Other Options
The ACORNS program has some other options that are less-used, yet can come in
handy. The following sections describe these features.
Section 6.1 Indigenous fonts
The ACORNS program supports indigenous keyboard fonts. They will apply anywhere in the program
that you can enter or display an indigenous word. The fonts must be true type fonts (ttf), industry
standard, and installed on your system. The ACORNS program also responds to keyboard mappings
created using Tavultesoft software on Windows or the Ukelele application on Macs.
In this section, we focus on true type font installation and use. On Windows systems, you can install
fonts by copying the .ttf files to the Windows/Fonts folder. On Macs, copy them to the Library/Fonts
folder. There are many web sites that offer fonts for you to download.
Once you install a new font, you need to tell ACORNS about it. The Font command executes when you
select (edit – modify – fonts). The dialog shown in Figure 6-1 will then display.
Figure 6-1 Indigenous fonts
The example shown in the above figure indicates that ACORNS recognizes only the standard keyboard
font used to enter English text. To tell ACORNS about your indigenous keyboard font, select the font
and size from the drop-down menus. A preview of that font will display in a line of text just above the
buttons. Enter the name of your language in the text field at the top-right, then click Add/Modify. The
new font will appear in the white display area in the center of the dialog panel. To make your font
active, click it where it appears in the center display area, then click the Set Active button. The arrow
shown in the display area will move to the one you've selected, signifying that it is now active. It will
be the default any time you are typing indigenous text.
If you should like to make a change to one of the fonts on the list, first click the one you want to alter.
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To erase it from this dialog, click Remove. To change the font, size, or language name, just make these
adjustments as discussed above; then click Add/Modify. (Even if you are not changing the language
name, take a moment to ensure that the right name is entered in that field.) You can also make changes
to the original default: pick a font and size, type "English" in the Language field, and click Add/Modify.
The Confirm button will close the dialog box, applying the changes you just made. ACORNS will
remember these changes each time it executes; therefore, you only need to install your fonts once. If
you want to exit the dialog without making any changes, just close the window using the button at the
top. Your selections will not take effect.
Note the display shown in Figure 6-2. This example shows an ACORNS application that recognizes a
number of fonts. The font for the Secwepemc language is the one that is active.
Figure 6-2 Multiple font display
Section 6.2 Embedded fonts and keyboard layouts
Some tribes require custom fonts and/or keyboard layouts to properly reflect their individual writing
systems. ACORNS can embed these custom fonts and keyboard layouts into lessons distributed on CDs
or those posted to the Web. This feature facilitates their use by language students that don't have the
technical expertise to install those fonts or keyboard layouts onto their systems.
The folder MyDocuments\acornsFiles on Windows systems; Documents/acornsFiles on MAC systems;
and ~/acornsFiles on Linux system contain sub-directories to hold custom fonts and keyboard layouts.
Within the acornsFiles folder, custom fonts are stored within the Fonts folder and keyboard layouts are
stored within the keyLayoutFiles folder.
Any True Type Font (with a .ttf extension) that you want included when you make a Web-page out of
an ACORNS file of lessons should be stored in the Fonts subfolder. If you execute Internet Explorer,
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embedded web-page fonts need to be in Microsoft’s eot format. These also need to be in the Fonts
folder. Similarly, any .keylayout file that you want to be be included should be stored in the
keyLayoutFiles subfolder. ACORNS does the rest automatically. Any lesson that requires these fonts
or keyboard layouts will execute successfully, even if students don't install them on their local systems.
.keylayout files provide instructions to alter what is normally echoed when keys are typed. For
example, in the Secwepemc language, typing a slash folloed by an a causes an accented a character to
display. These layouts are created with ELK, a freeware application that you can download from
http://cs.sou.edu/~harveyd/elk; on MAC systems, you can also use the UKELELE application to create
these files. Please refer to the associated documentation for more details.
Section 6.3 Audio feedback
When students execute ACORNS lessons, often there is a feedback audio recording that plays to tell
them whether they are correct, incorrect, or almost correct. The default audio that sounds is a bird tweet
for a correct answer, a squawk for an incorrect answer, and a frog croak for an answer that is not quite
correct. You have the option to override these feedbacks with one or more expressions in your
indigenous language for each category of feedback.
To activate this option, click on tools – feedback recordings. A dialog comes up as shown in Figure 6-3.
Note the three buttons that the dialog contains. If you wish to modify the feedback for correct answers,
click on the button labeled correct. Similarly, you can modify the feedback for incorrect or not quite
correct by clicking the appropriate button.
After clicking the button of choice, a dialog appears, also shown in Figure 6-3. This is the exact same
dialog we use to manually enter recordings for many of the lesson types. We will describe this dialog in
detail in the next chapter.
Figure 6-3 Indigenous audio feedback
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Section 6.4 Options command
Figure 6-4 ACORNS options
The Options command can be found under the Tools menu. When you execute this option, the dialog
shown in Figure 6-4 will display. These options let you choose how your ACORNS lessons will
execute. For example, you can turn off the Gloss feature. This means that when a student executes one
of your ACORNS lessons, they will not see the translation into the first (gloss) language. You can also
change the default keyboard font that ACORNS will use. This is an alternate way to change the active
font, as opposed to the method we discussed previously.
On the bottom of the display, observe the series of ten text boxes. You can use these to enter default
layer names. All ACORNS lessons can have up to ten different layers, which you might use to pertain
to different dialects or varying levels of lesson difficulty. When you create a new lesson, the text
entered here will be used as a default to describe how you are using layers.
Section 6.5 Audio recording options
The ACORNS program contains a full featured Sound Editing facility. By clicking on tools-audio, you
can customize how the sound related features of the ACORNS program operates. Figure 6-5 shows the
dialog that is activated when you choose the Audio option. Most of the controls in this section should
not be altered, unless you are familiar with their meanings. We use these in preparation for
implementing speech recognition and pronunciation features in future releases. However there are
some controls in this dialog that you might want to customize if you wish.
For example, the recording rate of 44100 is set so ACORNS will work on both PC computers and
MACS. Apple platforms require the 44100 setting, which are the number of measurements (samples)
per second that are used to record audio. PC platforms don’t require this setting, and a 16000 setting is
sufficient for speech. So on a PC; it may be okay to change the setting to this smaller value.
The dropdown menu which in Figure 6-5 displays “Default recording device” might need to be altered
on some systems that have multiple recording devices. For example, if you have a headphone
microphone, you might need to select it by clicking the down arrow and picking the appropriate device.
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The voice activation threshold is the minimum decibel level that ACORNS must hear before it begins
recording. Typically speech is at 30 to 40 decibels, so you can experiment with the value that works
well on your system and in your recording environment. Figure 6-5 has the voice activation feature
turned off, since any volume of sound greater than zero will trigger the recording to begin.
Frame rate controls how much memory an audio recording will take in memory. The value shown,
16000, is reasonable, but you might be able to get away with lowering this to 8000 and, by doing this,
you can save some memory. Finally, you could choose aif or au formats for audio compression. These
compressions save some space when the audio is recorded.
Note though, in most cases, you need not change any of these settings. If the defaults are okay, just
leave them all alone.
Figure 6-5 Audio recording options
Section 6.6 Convert video to animated pictures
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Smart phones or camcorders are inexpensive devices that you can use to record someone sitting down,
standing up, moving arms, or doing other things. The ACORNS program lets you convert these movies
into animated pictures and then use them in ACORNS lessons that you create.
Let’s now describe how you can do this. First click on the icon
on the ACORNS primary toolbar.
Alternatively, you can do the same thing when you click on the ACORNS edit drop down menu, and
then on the Movie to Animation selection. After invoking this option, a file chooser dialog appears that
enables you to browse and select a movie file. Figure 6-6 shows an example of this dialog as it appears
on Windows systems. Note, however, that file chooser dialogs are computer specific. (They could look
somewhat different on your computer.)
Figure 6-6 Movie file dialog
There is another way to select a video file. If you have an open folder that contains a list of video files,
depress the mouse on the one you want and drag it over the dialog panel, drop it by releasing the
mouse, and then click the OPEN button. This sometimes is easier than navigating to the desired folder
using the dialog interface.
Once you select your video file, a frame opens that is similar to the one shown in Figure 6-7. The
control bar shown at the bottom enables you to play the video. If you’ve used media player programs
before, this bar will look familiar. Clicking on the leftmost button plays (or pauses) the video. Next, to
the right, are the rewind and fast forward buttons. Each time you click on one of these buttons, you
adjust the current position in the video (forward or back) by a third of a second.
The progress bar is in the center of the control bar; it shows you the relative current position in the
video (represented by the square in the middle). After pausing, you can click on this bar at the desired
place to alter the current position; this will set the position to the place where you click. You can also
drag the square in the progress bar forward or back to do the same thing. The mute button to the right
of the progress bar can be used to toggle the sound on and off. Finally, clicking on the information
button on the right of the control bar will display information about the format of the loaded video.
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Figure 6-7 Movie to animated picture panel
If you right click (command-click on Macs) over the video, a popup menu displays. This menu allows
you to zoom in or out and alter the size of the movie that displays.
There are five buttons on the top of the panel. These buttons provide the capabilities that you need to
extract a clip from the video and save it as an animated picture on disk (gif format). To select a video
clip from within a video, you will need to set the clip’s starting and ending point. The reset button
(middle of top row of buttons) tells ACORNS that the clip is the entire video. This is useful when your
movie is very short (no more than a couple of seconds). Note the numbers shown to the right of the
start and end buttons. These show the relative time position in minutes:seconds that you select for a
clip’s respective beginning and end points.
As we’ve stated above, animated pictures can be used in a variety of ACORNS language lessons (like
Multiple Choice lessons for example). The complete procedure to convert a movie clip to an animated
picture are: (1) position the progress bar to the start of your clip, (2) Click the ‘Set start of clip’
button,(3) position the progress bar to the end of the clip, (4) Click on the ‘Set end of clip’ button, (5)
Click on the ‘Play clip’ button to play back the video clip and verify that you have the right settings,
and (6) Click the ‘Save clip’ button, which will save the selected clip to disk after you select a file
name and folder. You might have to use the various play features a few times to find the correct start
and end points of your video clip.
Once you save your animated picture, you are free to extract additional clips from the same video and
create additional animated pictures. Just repeat the same procedure that we just described.
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Chapter 7 Prepare Lessons for Use
Any lesson you create can be viewed in two modes: Setup or Execution. Setup Mode is where you
create and edit information that goes into your lessons. Execution Mode is where a student launches
your lessons in order to interact with the language. In this sense, using ACORNS is similar to making a
Power Point presentation. In Power Point, you create your slides first, and then display the information
in a slide show. In ACORNS, first we setup our lessons, and then students execute them.
There are a variety of lesson types that you can create and there is a great deal of commonality in the
procedure for preparing these for use. In this chapter, we describe those features that are common.
Section 7.1 Work with pictures
Recall that when creating a language lesson, you are asked to choose a lesson type. (To review, refer to
Figure 3-1). Most of these lesson types require a picture to be loaded before they can execute; some
lesson types require multiple pictures.
Subsection 7.1.1 Insert pictures
To insert a picture through the tool bar, click the icon showing a camera. Through the drop-down
menus, click (edit – insert – image). You can also use the shortcut key (control – i or command – i). In
any case, the Insert command triggers the dialog in Figure 7-1, asking you to browse for the picture of
your choice. To insert your picture, just click the one you want, and then click the Open button.
If your lesson is a type that can handle only one picture at a time, inserting an image when one already
exists will replace the old with the new. Otherwise, inserting an image will add to those already loaded.
There is an easier way to load pictures into your lessons. Just open the folder where your pictures
reside. Then select one or more pictures and drag them onto the ACORNS application window and
release the mouse. All of the selected pictures will load into the lesson.
Once you select an image file, ACORNS will remember the folder where it is stored, making it easy to
access other pictures stored in the same place. Pictures stored in jpg format generally work well for
photographs, since they have good compression and can handle the full range of colors. The ACORNS
program also supports pictures in png or gif format, and on other platforms additional choices could be
available. The gif format works well for animated pictures, which show movement and are great for
presenting action words or phrases.
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Figure 7-1 Inserting a picture into a lesson
Subsection 7.1.2 Remove pictures
If you want to remove a picture from your lesson, use the drop-down menus: (edit – delete – image).
For lessons that contain multiple pictures, first click on the one in question to turn their border red. This
will tell ACORNS which one you want to remove. The edit – delete – image option will then remove
the correct one.
Alternatively, for lessons containing multiple pictures you can press the mouse and drag the one to
delete away from the application window. Releasing the mouse will then remove the picture.
Section 7.2 Record sounds
Most lesson types also require you to attach recorded sounds to objects. For the majority of these
lessons, you'll do all your recording in an audio dialog box like the one shown in Figure 7-2.
Let's now discuss how to use the dialog. In the Gloss field, enter your first-language text; then, in the
Native Spelling field, add the indigenous translation. Note the drop-down menu at the top-right, where
ACORNS allows you to override the default keyboard font. The default is the one selected to be active
(refer to page 32 for review). If you plan to override a large group of recordings, it is probably better
just to change the default font.
It is important to use good equipment for your recording. We've found that headphone microphones
work best, and they're inexpensive. Some Macs and notebook computers come with a built-in
microphone. These can work well, too. Even inexpensive microphones are quite sensitive, so it is a
good idea to record in a place without lots of background noise.
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To begin recording, click the Record button with the red circle and start to speak slowly and clearly.
When you finish, click the Stop button, which is a blue square. It is a good idea to play your recording
back to make sure it's acceptable. To do this, just click the middle button, Play, with the black rightfacing triangle. If you're satisfied, click Accept and ACORNS will save the data. If not, press Record
again and enter a new sound. ACORNS will replace your first recording with the new one.
You can also load a prerecorded sound file. Simply click the Browse button and navigate to find it.
ACORNS will remember where you last navigated, so you will find it easiest to store all your sounds in
the same folder. You can also drag and drop an audio file over the audio dialog window. To do this,
with a folder of audio files open, press the mouse over the file of your choice, drag it over the dialog
window, and release the mouse. This can be easier than navigating using the browse button.
Figure 7-2 Audio recording dialog
Some lessons contain a slightly different input dialog (as we show in Figure 7-3). This dialog is similar
to Figure 7-2 but it enables you to enter additional descriptive information. For example, this
information could be culturally relevant or it could describe grammatical aspects of your language. You
use this feature any way that you wish.
Figure 7-3 Audio dialog with additional information
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Figure 7-4 shows the dialog where you can remove or modify a recording you've made, or attach
multiple recordings to a single picture. In most cases you can access this dialog simply by clicking on
the picture to which you attached a sound; however, this may vary from one lesson type to another. We
will focus on any differences in later chapters.
Figure 7-4Modify or delete audio recordings
The ability to attach multiple sounds to a single picture is useful when there is more than one word for
that image, or when you want to refer to it in more than one way. For instance, if you are attaching
sounds to the image of a running dog, you might want to include words for "Dog," "Run," "Brown,"
and "Eager." You might also choose to record several different sentences about the dog. How you
decide to use this feature is up to your imagination.
If you want to remove or modify an existing sound, look in the white box for the gloss you entered
earlier. Click the gloss, and then click Delete/Modify. The dialog from Figure 7-2 or Figure 7-3 will
display, allowing you to record over the sound, erase it by clicking Remove, or change the text fields if
you wish.
If you want to add another recording, click the Insert button, and you will be allowed to record an
additional sound. Figure 7-2 shows only one recording (bear is the gloss that was entered). If you add
multiple recordings, the list of gloss text for the various recordings will show in the display area.
Sometimes, it is handy to be able to reuse the audio, gloss, and indigenous text multiple times. This is
possible. Notice the copy icon shown at the bottom right of Figure 7-4. This allows you to copy the
entire contents of the dialog to the system clipboard. Once copied, a paste icon will appear when you
start another audio input dialog. Clicking the paste icon will automatically insert the audio, gloss, and
text input, so you don’t have to rerecord and again retype all the information.
Section 7.3 Setup secondary tool bar
When setting up a lesson, there will always be a secondary tool bar at the top. Figure 7-5 shows an
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example of such a toolbar, which is the one shown when you set up Multiple Choice lessons. Other
lesson types have a similar toolbar, although they might differ somewhat depending on a particular
lesson type’s requirements. In the following subsections, we will describe the controls that are present
in these toolbars, irrespective of the lesson type.
Figure 7-5 Multiple Choice lesson setup controls
Subsection 7.3.1 Lesson links
Links are a feature allowing you to build connections between your lessons, regardless of lesson type.
However, different lesson types do provide additional ways to use links than what we present here.
We'll cover these differences in the following chapters. In any case, creating a link is done through the
dialog shown below, where you are asked to enter the name of another lesson from the same (active)
ACORNS file. (Recall that all lesson names within a file can be found in the Lesson List, as described
in on page 23).
In Setup Mode of the various lesson types, there will be a button containing the image of a chain link
icon in it as shown in Figure 7-6. When you click this icon, a dialog appears and you then enter the
name of another lesson in the same file. When a student clicks the link you create, they will be routed
to the lesson you have designated. When you create a lesson link, make sure your spelling is correct;
otherwise the link will not work.
Figure 7-6 Lesson link
Subsection 7.3.2 Lesson layers
All lessons can have up to ten layers, which can be used to vary a lesson’s content. Figure 7-7 shows
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part of the Multiple Choice setup control pane that contains a slider bar, which helps you manage your
layers. By dragging the down arrow to the correct tick mark, you change layers. The setup operations
then pertain to the new layer. Note the numbers that show under the slider. These are to help you select
the layer that you want.
You might envision these layers as a stack of pages sitting on top of one another, and each layer
contains information that you attach to it. When students switch to a new layer, they interact with the
layer specific data. For example, Multiple Choice lessons have different audio attached to each layer.
Layers can be invaluable when creating your lessons. For instance, you could focus on multiple
language dialects, parts of speech, or levels of difficulty by assigning each one its own layer. You could
also focus on different subjects within the same image; for example, one layer might deal only with
colors, while another deals only with objects. Since language is a web of interconnected information,
layers allow you to keep its categories distinct while retaining a feel for how they're related. Let your
creativity guide you.
Figure 7-7 Lesson layer control
Subsection 7.3.3 Title and help
All lessons have a help button to provide context-based help. In Figure 7-8, the help button is on the
left. By clicking on this button, you will see a page of text that describes how to setup the lesson. The
lesson title also shows. In the figure, the title is “Plants and vegetables.”
Figure 7-8 Lesson title and help
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Subsection 7.3.4 Foreground and background colors
Most lessons allow you to alter the colors used for text (foreground) and for background. Figure 7-9
shows an example of this capability. One uses the icon with the capital A for selecting the foreground
color; click on the icon with the finger and three colored squares for choosing a background color.
Simply click on one of the displayed colors to alter the color used.
Figure 7-9 Foreground/background color chooser
Subsection 7.3.5 Rotate pictures
Some lessons allow you to rotate pictures. This feature is useful when you rotate your camera by 90
degrees when taking pictures. Notice the rotate icon (looks like a partial circle) on Figure 7-7. Each
time you click this icon, the picture will rotate by 90 degrees.
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Chapter 8 Execute Lessons: Execution (Play) Mode
Once you have completed your lesson setup, you are ready for execute mode. In this view, students
interact in their indigenous language to practice and refine their skill. Each lesson type operates
differently in execute mode, and we’ll describe the differences in the next chapter. However, as with
Setup Mode, there are some commonalities, and we focus on these in this chapter.
We execute a lesson by clicking the tool bar icon with the picture of red lightning. (To view this icon,
refer to Figure 3-2). Alternatively, the Execute command can also be found under the Tools menu. If
you should want to return to Setup Mode while a lesson is executing, simply press the escape key (or
click the X at the top right of the frame).
Executing a lesson shows us what the student will see. If we make a web page out of an ACORNS file,
the lessons it contains will execute in a browser window when the student visits that page on the Web
or opens the file from a CD. In this case, there will be no lightning bolt icon for a student to click,
because the lesson will execute automatically
Section 8.1 Lesson execution controls
When you execute a lesson, a series of control buttons will show at the bottom of the display. These are
consistent from one lesson type to another. Figure 8-1, for example, displays the execution control
buttons that display when a Flash Card lesson executes. We will now describe the purpose of these
buttons. Note that if you move your mouse over any these buttons, a short description of its purpose
will display.
Figure 8-1 Flash card lesson controls
Clicking these green arrows will move your students "up" or "down" through your stack of
layers.
These four buttons allow students to navigate between your lessons. Moving from
left to right, respectively, they mean: 1) go to first lesson, 2) go to previous lesson, 3) go to next lesson,
and 4) go to last lesson. If a student clicks on Previous or Next when none exists, a beep will sound.
These three buttons allows students to record their own audio as the lesson plays. This
is a useful feature for students that want to compare what they heard to how they say it. These buttons
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may not work on web-based execution, because recording from a browser is considered by industry to
be a security risk. However, this restriction will likely change in the near future.
The chain button is, of course, a link. By clicking this button, students can switch to a related
lesson. If your lesson does not feature links, the Link button will not show. By clicking on this button, a
student will switch to the lesson linked to this one. Recall the discussion of lesson links on page 43.
This green button is for additional lesson-based Options, signified by a green circle and the
letter "i." Clicking this button provides access to information and lesson settings through a pop-up
menu which appears with additional options. A lesson’s user settings are remembered by ACORNS
after they are altered by a student; this is also true when lessons are posted on the Web. Execution
Mode options vary based on lesson type, so we'll describe them as we go.
This button provides specific help that applies to the type of lesson that is executing.
Finally, note the text, French, that appears to the left of Figure 8-1. This is the name of the lesson layer.
Suppose you use your layers to represent different dialects. You can name the layers so that students
can distinguish between them when they execute a lesson.
Section 8.2 Exit execution mode
You can exit Execution Mode in several ways to go back to Setup Mode. First, you can click on the
button with the green circle and select “Exit play mode” from the popup menu. Easier still, you can
simply click the escape key. Finally, you can click the X on the top of your application frame. This will
not exit ACORNS, but it will bring you back to Setup Mode.
If you are executing from a web-page, there is, of course, there is no Setup Mode. In this case, if you
are finished, just use your browser controls to navigate away from the web-page.
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Chapter 9 Picture and Sound Lessons
Picture and Sound lessons consist of an image with many recorded sounds attached to it. You can use
any image you like. This flexibility is useful no matter what language you want to teach, as you will
probably be covering vocabulary for various objects, situations, and subjects. However, it is especially
useful when teaching a language closely tied to a particular region. You are free either to find
preexisting images for common subjects, or to gather new images that pertain to the specific
surroundings which define your language.
This lesson type enables you to attach written and spoken words to multiple spots on your picture.
These appear as acorns, stuck to elements of the picture. When a student clicks an acorn, the words you
have attached will play. Using this tool, you can preserve and communicate words and expressions to
describe various objects within, or aspects of, a given image.
There are many other features you can utilize in creating a Picture and Sound lesson, and we will
discuss each of them below. For now, this description accounts for the basic concept behind this type of
lesson.
Section 9.1 Picture and Sound setup mode
Setting up a Picture and Sound lesson involves two steps: inserting your picture, then creating and
positioning the acorns. Page 39 describes how to insert the image. Once that step is complete, just click
any part of your image where you would like to attach an audio recording. The audio dialog will appear
as we explained on page 40. After you finish recording, an acorn will appear at the spot you clicked. To
record multiple sounds, just click the same acorn again. When a student clicks an acorn with multiple
sounds attached, the program will select one from the list randomly.
Sometimes the acorn you create might not attach precisely to the spot you want. Just place your mouse
cursor over it and, holding the mouse button down, drag the acorn wherever you like. If you want to get
rid of an acorn, drag it off the panel.
Figure 9-1 shows a Picture and Sound lesson in Setup Mode. Notice the secondary tool bar at the top of
the Lesson Display area on the right (recall page 42). The controls on this tool bar allow you to
customize your Picture and Sound lesson. Here you can view your lesson title, displayed at the top of
the panel; rotate your image using the button marked by a picture of a partial circle; alter the size of
your picture by clicking the drop-down Size menu; select foreground/background colors; get help about
the Picture and Sound Setup Mode through the Help button, click the anchor button to the right of the
text 'Link to:' to link to other lessons in this file, and use the slider to change layers.
Additionally, you can use the two buttons on the right to copy acorns from one layer to another. Note
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though, that this operation will copy the acorns, but not the audio. It is a useful option if you want the
acorns to be in the same spots in different layers. If you want to copy the audio contained in a single
acorn, you can do this by clicking on the acorn and then selecting the copy icon. Then click on another
spot (or destination acorn), and then on the paste icon in the audio dialog panel.
Picture and Sound lessons provide another way to link lessons together (other than that presented on
page 43). Notice that in Figure 9-1, the Acorn icon appears depressed, while the Link icon to its right is
not. When you click the Link icon, it will depress, and the Acorn icon will release. Now you can create
links to other lessons; simply click anywhere on the picture. This will cause the dialog from Figure 7-6
to appear.
Picture and Sound lessons allow you to create and manipulate links just as you can do with acorns:
dragging them to any part of your picture, or removing them by dropping them off the edge of the
panel. These links are useful for many reasons. For example, if you have a Picture and Sound lesson
showing a person, you might want to link to another lesson with a picture of just the person’s face.
Additional lessons can provide students with finer and finer levels of detail. After you've finished
managing your links, remember to click the Acorn button again (to the left of the Link button).
Otherwise you're setup to make more links, not acorns.
Section 9.2 Execute Picture and Sound lessons
Figure 9-1 Picture and Sound setup
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Figure 9-2 An executing Picture and Sound lesson
Figure 9-2 shows a Picture and Sound lesson in execution. Actually, this ACORNS file contains seven
Picture and Sound lessons. The first lesson (filling the entire Lesson Display area) is setup to function
like a table of contents. Thus it shows an image for each of the following six lessons, with links to
bring students to another lesson as soon as they click one. You can create this kind of "table of
contents" image using a program like Photo Shop or Gimp (freely downloadable). Another way is to
draw your pictures by hand, then use a scanner to import it to your system.
When the student clicks on the link beneath the words "My Body," for example, they are routed to the
lesson shown in Figure 9-3. This lesson features a picture of a boy with a basketball. Note the acorns
scattered throughout the picture. When a student clicks one of these acorns, they can hear and read the
indigenous word that applies. Figure 9-4 shows what they see when the recording plays. If in setup
mode, you enter additional culturally relevant information, that data will display as well. The right
arrow in the dialog enables the student to replay what they heard. They can then compare how they say
it by using the Execution Mode recording controls (page 46).
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Figure 9-3 Picture and Sound my body lesson
Figure 9-4 Clicking on an acorn in execution mode
Note the green button at the bottom of the frame, which are shown at the bottom of Figure 9-2. When a
student clicks this button, it triggers the pop-up shown below in Figure 9-5. This pop-up menu gives
the student additional options.
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Figure 9-5 Picture and Sound execution options
Here the student can choose to turn off the translation that appears when an acorn is clicked. The
student can also use this pop-up to alter the size of the picture. If they click Increase Scale Factor, the
picture will grow by 10%. The Decrease Scale Factor option causes it to shrink by the same amount. If
the picture size exceeds the size of the display, you can position your cursor near the end of the window
and move it. This action will cause the picture to pan to see portions that previously were hidden. Near
the bottom, the Help option offers information summarizing what the options on this menu can do.
Finally, Exit Play Mode will stop this lesson's execution, returning the user to Setup Mode. Note that
web pages do not provide this option; lessons viewed on a web page cannot switch to setup.
Picture and Sound lessons support layers. Look at Figure 9-6. Though the image is exactly the same as
the one shown in Figure 9-3, if you look carefully, you'll see that the acorns are stuck to different places
on the picture. This is because the student using this lesson clicked the upward pointing green arrow
from the control buttons at the bottom of the frame, and switched to a different layer.
Figure 9-6 Another layer's acorns
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Chapter 10 Lessons with Multiple Pictures
Multiple Choice, Flash Cards, Moving Picture, and Pictionary lessons consist of multiple pictures; each
has one or more words or phrases attached. The setup for all four of these lesson types is near identical,
and we describe this process in the following sections. These lessons execute in unique ways, and we
will describe these details as well.
Section 10.1 Insert pictures
For all four of these lesson types, you insert your pictures using the instructions of page 39. To attach
audio to one of the pictures, you select one of them by clicking it. This will cause a red outline to
appear, shown in Figure 10-1. Click the image again and the dialog will come up. Record your sound
(recall page 40 for instructions), click Accept, and the recording will attach to the selected picture. If
you click twice on an image that already has a sound attached, the dialog we saw in Figure 7-2 will
appear, allowing you to modify, delete, or add additional recordings.
Figure 10-1 Selecting a picture
To remove a picture, click once to turn the border red. Then drag the mouse from the picture to off the
display; this action will remove the picture. You can also reorder the pictures. Instead of dragging a
picture off the display, release the mouse at the desired position. The picture will drop to that new
position.
Section 10.2 Setup mode for lessons with multiple pictures
These four lessons have an almost identical setup, the difference being that Pictionary and Moving
Picture lessons allow for entry of additional culturally relevant information. Figure 10-2 illustrates the
options available on the secondary toolbar for these lessons.
Figure 10-2 shows a context-based Help button to the left and display the title just to its right. The Help
button is useful if you need instruction while creating one of these lessons. Next there is a camera icon
that allows you to import a picture that changes the overall background color of an executing lesson,
thereby letting you customize its look and feel.
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The drop-down menu offers different ways to fit a picture to the space allocated to one of your pictures.
Many times it is unnecessary to use this feature; however, it can be handy if you're working with a
picture that doesn't fit the shape provided. To the right of the drop down lesson, there is a button
containing a circular arrow; this one allows you to rotate the imported pictures in ninety degree
increments. This capability is important if you generate pictures using a digital camera turned
sideways.
Figure 10-2 Multiple Pictures lesson setup
The two buttons to the right of the rotate button allow you to select colors to be used with executing
lessons. The one containing the capital A alters the color for of text that displays; the one containing the
hand and three squares enables users to pick a customized background color of individual pictures.
When you click on the either of these two buttons, a palette of colors will appear from which you can
make your choice. This same interface was described in connection with making web-pages on page
16.
Clicking on the final button enables you to enter the name of a language lesson in the same ACORNS
file to which this lesson is linked. When you click this button, a dialog comes up where you enter the
name of the lesson of interest (refer to page 43 if you need to review). This name will show, in blue, to
the right of the link button after you click OK.
Section 10.3 Multiple Choice lessons
When Multiple Choice lessons execute, ACORNS will display four pictures on the screen at a time,
then play an audio recording attached to one of the images; it's also able to show the written
counterpart to that sound. When multiple sounds are attached to a particular image, the lesson selects
from them randomly when executing.
The student's job is to hear the audio and click the appropriate picture. If they choose correctly, they
will hear by default, a bird chirp, and ACORNS presents another multiple choice question. The four
images on display will be shuffled or replaced by new ones, and a new recording will play, again
requiring the student to guess which image it signifies. If they chose incorrectly they will hear, by
default, a bird squawk, and the recorded words will replay, allowing the student to try again. Multiple
choice lessons are thus a fun and intuitive way for students to begin associating words with concepts.
Subsection 10.3.1 Execute Multiple Choice lessons
Figure 10-3 shows a snapshot of a Multiple Choice lesson that is executing. Four pictures display, and
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the student hears one of the audio clips attached to the top right picture. On the upper right, ACORNS
displays the total number of questions answered so far, next to the student's count of correct answers.
The gloss and indigenous translation show on the upper left, but the student can turn this off, should
they desire (Figure 10-4). After each correct answer, the pictures and the audio change.
Figure 10-3 Executing Multiple Choice lesson
Subsection 10.3.2 Multiple Choice execution options
Figure 10-4 shows the options available when a student clicks the control button on the bottom
containing the green circle. The audio, indigenous spelling, and/or gloss translations can be turned off
and on. If any of these are off, the menu will change to say Turn On instead of Turn Off.
Figure 10-4 Multiple Choice popup options
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Section 10.4 Flash Card lesson
Flash card lessons display three piles of flash cards and a list of phrases or expressions that apply to
those cards. On each card there is a picture describing the phrases or words that are attached. Students
click on the top card of a pile to hear one of the audio recordings attached to it. They then click on the
correct phrase or word which corresponds to the audio they heard. By default, they will hear a bird
tweet if they clicked were correct or a squawk if they were incorrect. If correct, a new card comes to
the top of the pile and the game continues.
Initially, all of the pictures are in the pile to the left. After enough correct answers, the ACORNS
program will move a top card to the middle pile. After more correct answers, cards move to the
rightmost pile. The goal of the game is to get all of the cards to the rightmost pile.
An example of the Flash Card lesson in action is shown in Figure 10-5. Notice the three piles of cards
and the list at the bottom. Also notice the buttons under each card. The button with the left arrow icon
enables the student to move the bottom card to the top; similarly, the button with the right arrow icon
moves the second card in the pile to the top. The button with the dice picture causes ACORNS to
choose a random card from the pile and bring that one to the top. Finally, the icons with the green
arrows allow students to move cards between adjacent piles.
Students can also move cards between piles using the drag and drop facility. If you wish to do this,
click your mouse on a pile, drag it to one of the other piles, and finally release over the destination. The
card will move to that destination pile. Note that the web-based versions don’t allow this drag and drop
facility; for online web-page versions, simply use the icon buttons with the green arrows instead.
Figure 10-5 An executing Flash Card lesson
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Subsection 10.4.1 Flash Card execution options
There are two options that users can choose should they click on the Information control button on the
bottom of the display window. The first allows them to switch between seeing gloss and indigenous
text in the list of phrases. The second option is a reset, which causes the lesson to shuffle the cards,
move all the cards back to the left pile, and alter the order in which the expressions appear.
Section 10.5 Moving Picture lessons
The moving picture lesson displays four pictures that move about the display window. When the user
clicks on one of these, attached audio plays and the gloss and indigenous text that corresponds shows at
the top. Periodically, every twenty or thirty seconds, one of these pictures will change.
Figure 10-6 An executing Moving Pictures lesson
Figure 10-6 shows a Moving Picture lesson executing. Note the four pictures. The student just clicked
the raven; we know this because of the text that displays at the top. In setup, we chose a forest
background picture. We also chose a green background with text displaying in a shade of blue.
The options for this lesson, should the student click on the Information button at the bottom of the
display are the same as exists in Multiple Choice lessons. Namely, the gloss and native text, and the
audio can be turned on or off.
Section 10.6 Pictionary lessons
A Pictionary lesson contains a group of pictures that display when students execute the lesson. Behind
each picture is a first language description along with a translation into the native language. Each
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picture also may contain additional culturally relevant information and an audio recording. If too many
pictures exist in the lesson to fit, a scroll bar will appear to enable the student to effectively navigate
between them.
The idea behind Pictionary lessons is for a language teacher to pick a subject (like animals for
example) and then create a dictionary in pictures that students can use to reinforce their learning
experience. Figure 10-7 shows a Pictionary lesson in execution. Note the popup window; a dialog like
this displays when you click on one of the pictures. You can click on more than one picture and have
multiple dialogs open at once. Pictionary lessons can have a screensaver picture in the background (ex:
the forest scene shown in the figure).
Figure 10-7 A Pictionary lesson
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Chapter 11 Story-based Lessons
There are three lesson types in this group; Story Book, Hear and Respond, and Hear and Click. The
easiest of the three to set up is the Story Book lesson, but there is quite a bit of commonality among
these three types. They all require the user to insert an audio recording (generally thirty seconds to a
couple minutes long). All three have a time domain representation of the sound (which looks like a
wavy line) with controls that allow the user to edit the audio. The execution mode of these lessons are
nevertheless, quite different.
Section 11.1 Sound editor features
In Setup Mode, the three story-based lessons all present the audio recording in a visual format. This
format is shown in Figure 11-1. Around the sides of this panel there are groups of buttons, where each
button in the group has a related purpose.
Figure 11-1Audio sound panel
Subsection 11.1.1 Recorder button group
Notice the group of buttons on the left wall of the display. These are used to record a sound, much like
the buttons we saw on the audio dialog in Figure 7-2. In this lesson type, no dialog is needed: you can
use the Record, Stop, and Play buttons straight from the display frame. After you record, a sound wave
(like the one in Figure 11-1) will display, representing the vibrations that your sound makes as it
travels. Now note the buttons above and below the Record, Stop, and Play buttons. Pressing these will
not make changes to your recording; they are simply scroll buttons, allowing you to view the front or
back portion of your sound wave if you have zoomed in too close to view it all in one glance.
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Subsection 11.1.2 Zoom features
On the right wall of the display are four Zoom buttons; each containing a magnifying glass. From top to
bottom, respectively, these buttons enable you to zoom in by degrees (to see the sound wave in greater
detail), zoom out by degrees (to see more of it at a glance), zoom to a specific area, or zoom all the way
out in one click (to see the entire sound wave compressed to fit in your display frame).
Subsection 11.1.3 Selections within a recording
There are several ways to make selections within your recording. First, you can select a single point on
the sound wave, in order to insert a new recording into your sound – for instance, to add a word or
sentence that got left out. Select where to insert the new sound by clicking the sound wave in your
display. Press the Record button, add your sound, and press Stop. The new sound will be sandwiched in
the middle of the old.
Next, note the three buttons on the top right of the display: one with a hand facing left, one with a tiny
sound wave next to an arrow, and the third with a hand facing right. The button with the sound wave
and the arrow will select your entire recording when you click it. The other two buttons allow you to
select only the beginning or end. Just click anywhere on your sound wave, then click the left-facing
hand. It will select everything to the left of your mouse-click, all the way to the beginning. Predictably,
the right-facing hand will select everything to the right of it, all the way to the end.
To select a portion from the middle of your recording, simply position the mouse at one end of the
portion you want to select, drag it to the other end, then release the mouse button. You will see the area
highlighted. You can extend or shrink a selection by simply pressing your mouse clicking at another
place in the recording and dragging. To reset a selection, simply click.
There are many reasons you might choose to select only a portion of your sound. First, you might need
to delete it. Second, you might want to focus on a single word or phrase, in which case you can make a
selection, press Play, and listen only to that excerpt. Third, you might need to rerecord a portion of your
sound. In that case, select the defective portion as described above; then click the Record button; this
will replace the old sound with the new. Fourth, we need to select in order to create annotations for
Hear and Respond or Hear and Click lessons. We'll describe how to do so later in this chapter.
Subsection 11.1.4 File management, undo, and redo features
On the top left of the display you will see a group of two buttons; these help you manage your file. The
first appears as a pencil with an eraser. Clicking it will erase your recording, so be careful before you
use it. Fortunately, the Undo and Redo buttons on the lower right of the display enable you to recover it
should you make a mistake.
The second file management button contains a magnifying glass on a yellow background. This is the
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Browse option, helping you to locate and open a prerecorded sound. You can also drag and drop an
audio file over the sound panel if you prefer this approach to using the browse option To do this, with a
folder of audio files open, press the mouse over the file of your choice, drag it over the sound panel,
and release the mouse.
Note that Hear and Respond lessons show two additional buttons, an Import and an Export button. This
is because these lessons require you to find where the words are in a sound wave and attach the
translation to those places. This can be done in setup, but it can also be done in a separate program. If
the latter is the case, we want to import the sound wave with all of these annotations included.
Similarly, we might want to export the sound wave with all of the annotations for use by other
programs.
Subsection 11.1.5 Edit a recording
Setup Mode allows some limited ways to edit a recording. Refer to the group of three buttons at the top
of your display, just to the right of the file management buttons discussed in the previous subsection.
These allow you to cut or copy a piece of the recording from one place to another. The icon with the
scissor is to cut; the icon containing two sheets of paper is to copy, and the rightmost of the three is to
paste.
Further to the right, there are four more buttons. The one with the large X lets you delete a piece of a
recording once you've selected it. The one showing two sheets of paper allows you to duplicate the
piece of the recording you've selected. Next to the right are two buttons with wavy blue lines. These are
Mute buttons; the one on the left allows you to silence the part of a sound wave outside of your
selection, while the one on the right silences the part selected.
Subsection 11.1.6 Sound volume controls
To control the volume of your recording, refer to the group of three buttons at the top of your display,
just to the right of the editing buttons. The green button with the plus sign makes the sound louder; the
green button with the minus sign makes it softer. The button with the up and down arrow normalizes
the sound, making it as loud as possible without distortion. When adjusting volume, it's a good practice
to try Normalize first. If the sound is still too soft (or loud), you can make your adjustments from there.
Each click of the volume buttons will adjust the level by ten percent. Note that the Normalize button
can appear not to work, in which case it may be responding to a very short, very loud segment in your
recording: the normalize function will not allow even that section to distort.
Section 11.2 Story Book lessons
Story Book lessons require audio for a page of a story, a picture that describes that page, and the entry
of the corresponding translation. By linking pages together, you can create an audio story book. The
different layers can each have their own translation (perhaps into differing dialects). The Story Book
setup displays in Figure 11-2.
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Figure 11-2 Story Book lesson setup
At the top of Figure 11-2 is the secondary toolbar; just below that is the representation of the sound
wave; and at the bottom is the translation text.
The first step to prepare a Story Book lesson is inserting your background picture. You accomplish this
by using the standard ACORNS insert picture methodology as we described on page 39. After you
insert your picture, you will see it appear as background in the sound wave portion of the setup panel.
(Figure 11-2 illustrates a background forest picture).
Subsection 11.2.1 Story Book lesson secondary toolbar and other options
In addition to the standard secondary toolbar controls (described on page 42), there are controls to
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adjust the size of a background picture to be inserted; to change the font size of the text displayed; a
background color, and a color for outputting the text. On the right there are two buttons that allow the
user to specify whether the text should be centered or left justified.
Note that Figure 11-2 shows the center (rightmost) button is depressed and, as a result, the text shows
to be centered. Clicking the button with the left justify button (to the left of the center button) will
cause it to depress instead, and the text will be left justified.
The layer controls show under the sound wave, but nevertheless work the same way as in all other
lesson types. Story Book lessons can have different text to show at each layer. There is also a language
selection under the sound wave. This enables each layer to have its own unique indigenous font.
Subsection 11.2.2 Story Book lesson sound panel
The sound panel in the center of the setup display represents the audio in visual format. Refer to page
59 if you need to review the associated features of this section.
Subsection 11.2.3 Story Book lesson text entry
At the bottom of the setup panel, simply type in the translation to the story. You can use the Return
(Enter) key on your keyboard to position the line breaks. If you don’t use line breaks, word wrap will
cause the text to flow around to the next line. This entry is very similar to how most word processors
work. Note that the story shown in the figure uses a Tulalip font.
Subsection 11.2.4 Execute a Story Book lesson
When you execute a Story Book lesson, the lesson displays the background picture on the top with the
translation text at the bottom. While the student hears the audio, the words in the translation highlight.
Because these words were not attached to exact positions of the audio in Setup Mode, the highlighting
will be approximate. You can click the information button at the bottom of the execution panel
(containing the green circle) to either decrease or increase the size of the font.
Note Figure 11-3. The word that was playing when the snapshot picture was taken is highlighted. The
background picture is a forest, but in Setup Mode, we could easily choose another picture instead. We
chose the background color for the text area to be blue, and the words to output using white letters. The
font used was Tulalip. In Setup Mode we also could adjust the size of the font.
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Figure 11-3 Story Book lesson executing
Above the translation are four additional icon buttons. These allow students be able to control how the
audio plays. The can pause the recording, stop it from playing and go back to the beginning; rewind at
the same speed it plays; or play from the current position.
Section 11.3 Hear and Respond lessons
Hear and Respond lessons require an audio recording of a story and a translation. However unlike
Story Book lessons, the words of the translation are attached to the appropriate positions in the sound
wave.
Figure 11-4 shows the Setup Mode display of a Hear and Respond Lesson. The secondary toolbar at the
top is exactly like that of the Story Book setup, which we described earlier in this chapter. Through the
Setup Mode, you can add differing translation text to each of ten layers; control the font size; center or
left justify the text; select a language font; insert a background image; and select a color for the text
that displays. Similar to all ACORN lesson types, you can also receive context-based help, see the
lesson title, and create a link to another lesson.
The sound wave display area is also very similar to story book lesson setup, with a couple of
exceptions. Notice the two extra buttons on the top left of the display. These are the Import and Export
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icons, represented by an open book with a red arrow pointing either in or out. Using these options, you
can save or load a recording with all its annotations correctly attached. This feature is useful for
archiving your annotated recording in an industry-standard format. Export creates two files to preserve
your lesson: a standard audio file, and an XML file with the text of your annotations, including
instructions for where they belong in the recording. With Import, you can load a file you've previously
exported including all of the annotations.
Another minor difference from Story Book lesson setup is that the slider that controls which layer you
are working with and the choice of language is at the bottom of the display not in the middle. However,
though they appear in a different place on the display, these controls work the same way. Namely, drag
the slider to the layer you want to work with, and use the language dropdown menu to pick the font of
interest.
The major difference between Hear and Respond setup and Story Book setup is the text field on the
bottom of the display and the three buttons at the bottom right. These controls enable you to attach
annotation text to sections of the sound wave as we will describe in the following sections.
Figure 11-4 Hear and Respond lesson setup
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Subsection 11.3.1 Annotate the audio recording
Hear and Respond lessons require us to make a recording; then translate it with word-for-word
annotation. The annotations you create will form the transcript that a student sees in the Lesson Display
when they execute your lesson.
The bulk of the work for setting up a Hear and Respond lesson is selecting individual words from your
sound wave, and then annotating those portions of the recording. Once you've finished, ACORNS takes
it from there: the lesson is ready to play. However, note that executing a Hear and Respond lesson will
not make much sense unless you annotate each word of your story. For a thirty second recording, this
process could take up to an hour (or somewhat less once you get familiar with the process).
To create an annotation for your recording, first zoom in so you can more easily work with it (Page 60).
Next, select (Page 60) a portion of the recording and press the Play button to make sure the selection
starts and ends in just the right place. Once you're happy with the selection you've made, you are ready
to translate it. Figure 11-5 shows an example of a zoomed in recording with a portion selected.
Click the Text field at the bottom of the frame, and type your annotation text (translation of the word
selected) into it. Note that if you enter \n characters into an annotation, they will show as line breaks
when the lesson executes. This gives you more control over the way the text looks when the lesson
executes. When you are done typing, click the Add button marked by a large black plus sign near the
lower right side of your display. Clicking Add will make the new annotation appear beneath the
selection, as shown by the purple text in the figure. If your annotation is too long to display
horizontally in the space provided, it will display vertically.
You can alter an annotation after you've created it. Just click anywhere within the appropriate
annotation on the sound wave, and you will see the original spelling appear in the text field. Type your
correction in the field as you want it to appear; then click the Fix icon. (This is the button showing a
wrench and screwdriver just beneath the Add button.) Your new text will replace the old.
To delete an annotation, select the portion as described; then click the Garbage button. The annotation
will disappear.
If you select an area in the sound wave that already contains annotations, type some text and then click
add, the new text will replace those that were there previously.
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Figure 11-5 Hear and Respond selection
Subsection 11.3.2 Execute a Hear and Respond lesson
Hear and Respond lessons consist of a lengthy recording, like a speech or a story that plays while the
student reads along from a transcript shown on their Lesson Display. However, some of the words in
the transcript are missing, and the student's job is to type in the blank words.
Figure 11-6 illustrates a Hear and Respond lesson in execution. Notice the blank words shown. Those
are the ones the student needs to fill in. To do this they will type into the text field at the top and then
hit the Enter (or Return) key on their keyboard.
There are icon button at the top of the display, which serve to make the student's experience more
enjoyable. If a student cannot figure out what the correct word is, they can click the icon with the
question mark to view the answer. To hear the phrase again, they can click the replay button. To stop a
recording that is playing, they can click the pause button. Or they can click the play button, which will
cause ACORNS to automatically fill in the correct answer and continue to the next blank word.
Of course, the users are always allowed to type their answer and see if they are correct. After typing,
the student clicks the Enter (or Return) key to see if they are correct and update their score (at the top
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right of the panel). They will by default be greeted with a bird tweet if they are correct, a frog croak if
their spelling is slightly off and a squawk if they are off track.
After filling in all the blank words, the entire story plays again, letting the student listen and read along
without interruption. The appropriate words are highlighted as the story plays as an aid to the student.
After the playback, the lesson executes again, this time with different blank words.
In this way, Hear and Respond lessons challenge a student to recognize spoken words and connect
them to written ones. Since a living language depends on people who can not only read it, but
comprehend it when spoken, Hear and Respond lessons provide a way to practice an invaluable
element of language acquisition.
Figure 11-6 Hear and Respond lesson executing
Subsection 11.3.3 Hear and Respond execution options
There are options, a student can select by clicking on button with the green Information icon. Figure
11-7 shows the menu that pops up when a student clicks on this button. For example, the student can
reset the lesson to change the blank words and their positions. Students can also choose the continuous
play option if they want to hear the entire recording without any stopping points. Another option alters
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the difficulty level. A Harder difficulty level means that there will be more missing words. Hear and
respond lessons supports five difficulty levels (Basic, Moderate, Challenging, Hard, and Extreme).
Finally, students can change the font size of the transcription in their Lesson Display.
Figure 11-7 Hear and Respond execution options
Section 11.4 Hear and Click lessons
Hear and Click lessons work very much like Hear and Respond lessons. There are two major
differences between these two lesson types. The first difference is that Hear and Click lessons have a
different recording at each lesson layer. In this way, a layer could contain a recording that tells the same
story in a different dialect. The second difference is Hear and Click lessons annotate the recording with
pictures, instead of words. This makes Hear and Click lessons a very immersive learning experience.
Subsection 11.4.1 Hear and Click setup mode
Figure 11-8 shows a Hear and Click lesson in Setup Mode. The figure shows a sound wave at the top,
and pictures annotating portions of that sound wave on the bottom. Notice the buttons that are on the
walls of the display containing the sound wave. These are very similar to those that we described on
page 64 (Hear and respond lessons). Selecting portions of the sound wave is done exactly the same way
as we described on page 60.
The secondary toolbar is also very similar to what we described earlier in this chapter. Please refer to
those sections if you need to review. In this section, we will only describe those setup options that are
different. One difference is the rotate button (shown with a picture of a curvy arrow). This is needed in
case you want to rotate any of your annotated pictures.
Subsection 11.4.2 Picture annotations
Hear and Click lessons require us to make a recording, or load one if you have it prerecorded. You can
load a recording by using the browse icon, or by dragging and dropping your audio file over the sound
panel. Once the audio is loaded, you then add picture annotations that will form what a student sees in
the Lesson Display when they execute your lesson.
The bulk of the work for setting up a Hear and Click lesson is selecting areas of your sound wave; then
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annotating those portions of the recording with pictures. Hear and Click lessons support up to ten layers
of annotations (as do all lesson types). The slider at the top of the secondary toolbar enables you to
select which layer you are using, or to create a new one by clicking or dragging to it. With this feature,
you can record and annotate the same story in different languages or dialects.
Figure 11-8 Hear and Click lesson setup
It is a good idea to have the pictures that you intend to use available at setup time. The pictures can be
still frames using industry standard picture formats like jpg or png, or they can be animated using the
gif format. ACORNS can also extract frames from movies stored in mpeg format and store them as
animated pictures. Once you've finished annotating your sound wave, ACORNS takes it from there: the
lesson is ready to play.
To create an annotation for your recording, first zoom in so you can more easily work with it. Next,
select a portion of the recording and press the Play button to make sure the selection starts and ends in
just the right place. Once you're happy with the selection you've made, you are ready to annotate it.
Below, Figure 11-9 shows an example of a zoomed in recording with a portion selected.
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Click on the ACORNS icon containing a picture of a camera, to insert a picture (or use the drag and
drop procedure that we described on page 39). This is the same procedure we use in all ACORNS
lessons to add pictures. Hear and Click lesson annotation pictures appear at the bottom of the display
area under the portion of the sound wave that you select. Should you want to delete an annotation, click
somewhere within the picture. Then you have two ways to proceed. The first is when you select the
ACORNS edit drop down menu, choose delete, and then image (edit—delete—image). The second
procedure is easier; simply click on the icon with the picture of the garbage can. Either of these two
methods will remove the annotation, and it will disappear.
One of the controls at the top of the secondary toolbar allows you to rotate your annotations. Rotating
an annotation is convenient if your picture was taken with your camera rotated. To rotate, click
anywhere within your annotation, and then click the rotate icon (it has a circular arrow shape on it).
Each click will rotate the picture by ninety degrees.
Hear and Click lessons allow you to insert a picture to use as a background. Click on a single point
somewhere in the sound wave, and then insert your background image using the same method
discussed on page 39 (by clicking the icon with the picture of the camera.) Hear and Click lessons
assume that you want to change the background image whenever you insert a picture without first
selecting an area of the sound wave.
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Figure 11-9 Hear and Click selection
Subsection 11.4.3 Execute a Hear and Click lesson
Figure 11-10 shows a Hear and Click lesson executing. Notice the pictures scattered across the display
window. The student listens to the story, and when the story comes to the part relating to one of the
pictures, the playback stops. The student then clicks on the correct picture. If correct, a bird tweet
sound (the default) will give the student a positive feedback. A squawk sound (the default) indicates
that the student was incorrect. The score panel at the upper right keeps track of how the student is
doing.
When the story replays, ACORNS picks another set of pictures, randomly positions them on the display
window, and executes the lesson again. Hear and Click lessons provide an immersive way to practice
language comprehension.
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Figure 11-10 Hear and Click lesson execution
There are icon buttons (similar to those of Hear and Respons lessons) students can use to control the
lesson. If a student cannot figure out which picture to click, they can click the icon with the question
mark arrow key to view the answer. ACORNS will draw a red border around the correct answer. To
hear the playback again, they can click the replay icon. To stop a recording that is playing, they can
click the pause button. Finally, clicking the play button, causes ACORNS to continue the playback,
stopping at the next pause point.
Subsection 11.4.4 Hear and Click execution mode options
Should the student click on the green Information icon at the bottom of the frame, the popup shown in
Figure 11-11 will appear.
Figure 11-11 Hear and Click execution mode options
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The student can reset the lesson to redisplay different pictures at different places. They can also alter
the difficulty level. A greater difficulty level will cause more pictures to show in the display area.
Continuous play will play the entire recording, with a short pause between the playback points that
correspond to each picture, and highlight the correct picture with a red border as it plays. After
completing the lesson, the lesson executes again and the pictures and where they display will vary each
time.
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Chapter 12 Topics-based Lessons
There are two lesson types that we consider to be topics-based. These are: magnet game lessons and
question and answer lessons. For these lessons, in setup mode, you pick a category, and then enter a
series of sentences that correspond to that category. Each topics category associate with an audio
description, a corresponding picture, a descriptive phrase, and a set of corresponding sentences. For
these, you enter the gloss, indigenous text and an audio recording (as described on Page 41). The setup
of magnet game lessons and question and answer lessons are identical, and we describe these in the
following section.
Note that you can use the lesson copy and paste options to turn a Magnet Game lesson into Question
and Answer or vice versa.
Section 12.1 Topics-based lesson setup
Figure 12-1 shows a topics-based lesson in setup mode. It shows three categories of topics, weather,
phrases, and signals. You select the one of interest by clicking (this turns the selected line white). Once
selected, you can record audio (or drag and drop an audio file if prerecorded), alter the text, or insert (or
drag and drop) an appropriate picture.
Figure 12-1 Magnet Game setup mode
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Subsection 12.1.1 Modify the list of topic categories
To enter an additional topics category, you type a phrase into the text box at the bottom of the setup
panel, and then click the leftmost button containing the picture of a plus sign. When you do this, you
will see the phrase appear as an entry in the list displayed in the middle of the setup panel. Use this
same procedure to continue adding category phrases until you are finished.
If you make a mistake, it is easy to correct your errors. First select the topic category phrase that you
want to fix by clicking on it. You will see the phrase become highlighted and the phrase will also
appear in the text box at the bottom of the setup panel. If you want to change the spelling, simply edit
the text field and then click the edit icon button (the one containing the picture of the wrench and
screwdriver). The topics category shown in the list of phrases will reflect your change.
It is also easy to delete a topics category from the list. First select it (as just described) and then click on
the button containing a picture of a garbage can. This will remove it from the list of phrases. If you
make a change and then want to undo it, simply click the undo icon on the main ACORNS toolbar.
Subsection 12.1.2 Select and deselect
As mentioned above, the topics phrase shown with a white background is the one that is selected. You
can change the selection by clicking on another phrase in the list. If you click on a phrase that is
already selected, a dialog box will appear (we will discuss this below). Occasionally, you might want to
deselect a phrase. To do this, with the control key depressed, click again on the highlighted list item
and ACORNS will then remove the highlight.
Subsection 12.1.3 Insert pictures
Once you properly add a topics category, you can attach a picture to it, if you wish. To do this, first
select the category phrase and then insert your picture. You can do this by using the ACORNS insert
image command or by dragging and dropping (Chapter 7 of this document provides more details).
After you do this, you will see a miniature view of the picture appear in the phrase list under the
camera icon. If you insert a picture without a category being selected, ACORNS assumes that you are
inserting a background image to use with this lesson.
It is easy to recover should you insert a category picture incorrectly. The easiest way is to click the
undo icon. A second way is to select the phrase containing the picture, then click on the ACORNS edit
menu, then on delete, and finally on image. A third way is to click on the image and drag it off the
setup panel. Any of these actions will cause ACORNS to remove the picture from the list.
Category-based lessons can also have an overall background picture. To insert a background picture,
follow the insert picture procedure just described without having any of the list items selected. To
remove a background picture, from the edit toolbar command, click remove, and then on image.
Subsection 12.1.4 Attach category sentences and audio
To add record audio that applies to a topics category, use the buttons in the setup panel. To add audio
that applies to one of the sentences corresponding to a particular topic, first select the category (to turn
the category line white), and then click again. When you click on a category phrase that is already
selected, you will see a dialog appear. This dialog is very similar to the dialog associated with many of
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the ACORNS lesson types (Refer to Chapter 7 for more details). It enables you to enter new sentences
associated with a topic and also provides the facility for you to record audio. Unlike many ACORNS
lessons, it also allows entry of additional descriptive information which could contain culturally
relevant information. Figure 12-2 shows an example of this dialog. The left side shows what will
appear if you already entered a dialog sentence. You can use this to select and modify previous input,
or add additional ones. The right side of the figure shows the actual entry dialog.
Figure 12-2 Adding sentences and audio
After you complete the process of adding sentences and audio, you will have one or more sentences
attached that relate to each topic category. For example, under the category "A friendly greeting" you
might add sentences like "Hi, how are you doing" or "It is good to see you today" along with the
appropriate audio recordings.
Subsection 12.1.5 Secondary toolbar options
The top of Figure 12-1 displays the secondary toolbar. The components of this toolbar are very similar
to those of other lesson types and they affect how topics-based lessons operate when they execute. For
example, the slider allows you to have up to ten layers in a lesson, where each layer can represent a
different dialect or level of difficulty. The color icons allow you to customize the foreground or
background colors used. The size drop down menu lets you control the size of the font that displays.
The help facility provides on-line help which is useful if you need more instruction while you are
setting up a new lesson. The link button allows you to connect this lesson with another lesson in an
ACORNS file of lessons. Clicking on this button causes a dialog window to appear where you enter the
name of the lesson that you want to link to.
Section 12.2 Magnet Game lessons
A Magnet Game lesson randomly displays a group of magnets. (Each magnet contains a single word of
a native language sentence.) Your job is to drag by depressing the mouse key over one of the magnets
and with the key depressed moving the mouse. When you position the mouse over another magnet that
contains an adjacent word, you then drop (by releasing the mouse). This action will join the magnets
together if they contain adjacent words; otherwise, ACORNS audibly will inform you of the error.
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After the entire sentence is reconstructed by repeated drag and drop operations, you can click to hear a
recorded audio, see some text that applies, and view an appropriate picture (if one was attached).
Subsection 12.2.1 Magnet Game execution
Once you have inserted your categories, attached pictures and some sentences with audio recordings,
your lesson is ready to execute. To execute, click on the icon that looks like a lightning bolt. Figure
12-3 shows a magnet game lesson that is executing.
Figure 12-3 Magnet Game lesson
Notice the magnets that are displayed randomly about the frame. In this case, the magnets are blue with
white text. Your job as a student is to click and drag a magnet over one that containing an adjacent
word in a sentence, and then release. If magnets should be on top of each other, you can drag them to
another spot. If you perform the drag and drop incorrectly, ACORNS will give you an audio feedback
to indicate the error. If you are correct, the two magnets will merge into one. When you complete
forming an entire sentence, you will hear a positive audio feedback. Then you can click on the
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completed magnet and doing so will provide output showing the attached picture and text that you
entered during setup mode. It will also allow you to playback the attached audio.
Normally, Magnet game lessons will randomly select one sentence from each category along with its
audio recording. Each magnet will initially contain a single word from each of these sentences.
However, if you enter lots of categories, you may not see all of them. The game’s difficulty level
determines how many you will see (see execution options below).
Subsection 12.2.2 Magnet game execution options
On the bottom of your display, you will see a row of buttons that are standard across all ACORNS
lesson types. These enable you to change layers, to navigate between other lessons that might be in the
file, to record and playback audio to compare your pronunciation to that in the lesson, and to get help
should you need it. The middle button (the one with the green circle) contains options specific to
magnet games. When you click on the middle button, the options shown in Figure 12-4 will appear.
You can click to reset the game and display another random set of magnets, to increase or decrease the
difficulty level (meaning more or less magnets will appear), or to change the font size of the text that
appears in the magnets.
Figure 12-4 Magnet game options
Section 12.3 Question and Answer lessons
Each topic in a Question and Answer lesson is posed as a question from the fluent speaker to the
student. The job of the student is to provide an appropriate answer. For some questions, any of a series
of answers could be correct. The ACORNS application compares the student’s answer to those deemed
correct.
Figure 12-5 shows an executing question and answer lesson. For various topics, a panel appears. The
student can click the play button (upper right of one of the panels) to hear the question. They then type
the correct answer into the text box. To see the correct answer, the student can click on the button with
the question mark. To check their answer, they can click on the icon with the green check mark.
ACORNS will respond with an appropriate feedback sound to indicate if the answer is correct.
The audio buttons are provided in anticipation of including speech recognition capabilities. When
ACORNS is able to provide this feature, students can speak the answer, rather than typing, and this will
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make Question and Answer lessons much more immersive. Clicking on the check mark then will verify
whether their spoken answers are correct.
Lesson options enable the student to reset the game (meaning a different set of question panels will
appear in different positions), or alter the game’s difficulty level, where more difficult means more
question panels.
Figure 12-5Question and Answer Lesson
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Chapter 13 The Sound Editor
The Sound Editor was originally a stand-alone program. In ACORNS Version 3, we integrated it to run
as part of the ACORNS application. To execute, click the icon showing a speaker and a slider, found at
the top of your ACORNS frame. You can also launch it through the Edit menu. Alternatively, you can
execute the Sound Editor as a stand-alone program by clicking its icon in your ACORNS folder.
As shown in Figure 13-1 below, the Sound Editor has two identical work areas (or Sound Panels), each
with the same set of buttons. Thus you can record and edit two separate sounds in the same session.
You can also copy and paste sections of one recording into the other. As you move your mouse over
each button, a description of its function will appear.
Figure 13-1 ACORNS Sound Editor frame
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Section 13.1 Sound Editor options
At the top of the Sound Editor frame, you'll see some controls independent of the Work Areas. For
example, at the upper left, there is an icon with a yellow question mark. Not surprisingly, this is the
Help option where you can find out how to use the Sound Editor.
If you're working from a Windows system, you will see check boxes and sliders at the top of the Sound
Editor display. These enable you to control the microphone boost and speaker volume. Mac systems
don't respond to these options, so if your system is a Mac, you won't see these controls.
At the upper right, note the Annotation button, showing an open folder with two arrows. When you
click this button, the Sound Editor goes into annotation mode, operating exactly as we described on
page 64 (Hear and Respond lessons). In annotation mode, you can add up to ten layers of annotations to
a recorded sound.
Just to the right of the Annotation button, there is an icon with the picture of a hammer and wrench.
Click this button to modify Sound Editor operation, and the dialog in Figure 13-2 will appear. You can
also trigger this option by clicking on the ACORNS Tools menu, and then selecting the audio option.
In most cases, the default values for these options are fine. We will provide a brief description of a
couple that could be important.
1. Audio Compression Extension refers to the default audio format that ACORNS uses internally
to represent a file; this format, wav, takes more memory, but it is standard across computer
platforms and represents speech accurately. You can pick other formats like spx, au, gsm, or aif,
should you prefer those formats.
2. The recording rate is the number of times per second the microphone samples a sound wave.
On Mac systems, this value must be 44100, even though a 16000 setting is sufficient for speech
recordings. If you work with a Windows system, you might try 22050 or 16000. Frame rate is
what ACORNS uses internally. It, by default, converts to 16000 to save memory.
3. The recording device option provides a drop down selection. On some systems, ACORNS
might not correctly choose the correct microphone, should there be more than one. This option
allows you to select the one you want.
4. Set the voice activation to a positive decibel level (30 to 40 is normally sufficient for
conversation) if you want ACORNS to begin recording operations only when speaking begins.
5. Don't worry about the other fields if they are saying things that you don't understand. We use the
Sound Editor as a research tool as we work to integrate speech recognition features into the
ACORNS application. These options are helpful to us in our work.
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Figure 13-2 Sound Editor options
Section 13.2 Sound editor panels
The Sound Editor contains two identical panels as shown in Figure 13-1. Two panels are convenient
because you can copy portions of an audio recording from one of these and paste it to the other. The
buttons surrounding a Sound Panel are arranged in groups, each of which is described in the following
sections.
Subsection 13.2.1 Record
The buttons down the left side are the recording group, which you may recall from the chapter that
describes Story-based Lessons. The three buttons in the center let you start, stop, and replay your
recording. Just above and below these are scroll buttons. If you have zoomed in too close to see the
entire sound wave in your display, you can use these buttons to view the front or back of your
recording.
Subsection 13.2.2 Zoom
Down the right side of the panel, toward the top, you will see the zoom group. These allow you to
zoom in by degrees, zoom out by degrees, zoom to a selected portion of your sound wave, or zoom all
the way out in one click.
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Subsection 13.2.3 File management
On the far left at the top of each Sound Panel, you will see the file management buttons. These include
Erase, Browse, Import, Export, and Save, from left to right respectively. Clicking Save will, of course,
save your work; however, if you try to open a saved Sound Editor file in an ACORNS lesson, the
program will retrieve only the sound recording – not the annotations you may have added. If you want
to preserve your Sound Editor work for general use, choose the Export option instead. As described in
previous chapters, this command will save it in two files: an XML file to preserve your text (including
where your annotations are attached to the recording, as well as which font you have chosen); and
secondly, a standard audio file to preserve your recording. The ACORNS application will automatically
recognize the annotations in lesson when loading prerecorded audio files.
If you want to open a recording in the Sound Editor that you saved earlier, you can get it back by
clicking the Browse button. If you preserved it using Export, click the Import button instead. The
Import option also allows you to retrieve any work you may have created in your Hear and Respond
lessons. Clicking Import will open not only the sound recording, but any annotations you added. If you
choose instead to open one of these files using the Browse option, you will retrieve only the recording.
Subsection 13.2.4 Edit audio
To the right of the file management commands, there are groups of editing buttons. The first group
allows you to copy, cut and paste selected portions of a recording, once you have made a selection.
Note that the Sound Editor allows you to cut from one panel and paste into the other.
The next group of buttons allows you to delete or duplicate a portion of your recording. There is
another group of buttons that follow allows you to silence the sound wave inside or outside of a
selected area. This group also provides a filtering icon, to alter the audio in various ways. ACORNS
supports a number of popular filtering algorithms.
Subsection 13.2.5 Speed
The Sound Editor includes speed buttons, located to the right of the editing commands, which allow
you to play your recording either faster or slower. Faster is signified by the picture of a person running,
while Slower shows an upheld hand. ACORNS is able to alter the speed of the audio, while preserving
the pitch.
Subsection 13.2.6 Volume
To the right of the speed buttons you will find the volume controls, including Louder, Softer, and
Normalize. Each click of the Louder or Softer buttons will alter the volume by ten percent. Normalize
makes the audio as loud as possible without distortion, but even if there is a very short burst of
loudness, it can sometimes appear to not work.
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Subsection 13.2.7 Display modes
Next you'll see the buttons in the display group. Click these buttons to display your sound wave in a
different mode. If you are not familiar with the science behind sound waves, you may find it helpful to
consider a few basic concepts. We can talk about sounds in terms of certain qualities that define them.
Just as we can refer to a table by its color, shape, or texture, we can refer to a sound by its amplitude
(how loud it is) and frequency (how high or low it is). We can also arrange those qualities on a graph,
representing what you hear in picture form. The modes offered in the display group are just different
ways of drawing a picture of the sound.
The leftmost button will display your sound wave in the default mode, which we saw in Figure 11-2. In
this mode, larger waves signify a louder volume, showing what the wave looks like as it travels through
time and space. The second button will create a spectrograph, separating the sound into component
frequencies. Here, higher frequencies are positioned higher in the display, while larger amplitudes are
signified by a darker color. Figure 13-3 shows a sample spectrograph output.
Figure 13-3 Sample spectrograph display
The third button offers a frequency analysis of a particular portion of a recording, which is a very
useful tool for developing speech recognition technology. The last display buttons plot Cepstral
coefficient data, also essential for speech recognition. Again, don't worry if you don't understand the
last couple of statements. The primary purpose in providing these modes is to help us in our research to
develop further capabilities for ACORNS software. You will probably find the default display sufficient
for your project; however, feel free to see what your sound wave looks like in different modes.
Subsection 13.2.8 Selection
On the far right, notice the three selection buttons. Making selections in the Sound Editor is done
exactly as described on page 60.
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Subsection 13.2.9 Undo and redo
The undo and redo buttons can be found on the lower right area of a Sound Panel. When you alter the
audio, ACORNS records its original state. Clicking on the undo button (The one with icon containing
an arrow pointing to the left), the original wave, before the changes is restored. Clicking on the icon
with the arrow pointing right will repeat the change, should you want it after all.
Subsection 13.2.10 Gloss and native text
The two text fields at the bottom of the Sound Panel allow you to enter gloss (first language) and native
text to annotate the recording. The drop down gives you a chance to select a font for properly
displaying the native text. This information will be preserved by ACORNS in any of its recording
dialogs so long as you use the Export option to save the entered data.
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