[Mediawiki-l] Announcing Occleve - the Open Content Learning Environment

Joe Gittings joe at pocketchinese.com
Sun May 27 03:48:56 UTC 2007

Occleve is an open content mobile phone computer based learning (CBL)
system with the tests stored in XML in a mediawiki. It's hosted on berlios
but is also available through a redirect at http://www.pocketchinese.com
An emulator-based demo of the mobile phone client is at
And the wiki is at
I launched the system back in February.

The mobile phone client (written in Java) connects directly to the wiki
through the Internet, retrieves a list of available tests, and then allows
the user to select which ones to download. Once downloaded, the tests are
stored in the mobile phone's memory.

As far as I know this is the first time that mediawiki has been used as:
*The backend for a mobile phone application.
*To store XML data rather than mediawiki-formatted text.
But please correct me if I'm wrong!

I live in Shanghai, China, and am learning Chinese. So at this time, the
main application for Occleve is for learning and testing Mandarin Chinese
vocabulary. However, there is nothing in the software which precludes it
being used for other language pairs. Indeed, I have also created a test
for English-Shanghainese (with audio clips), and a couple of friends have
done a very small amount of work on English-Hindi and English-Korean
tests. And ultimately, I'd like it to be used for other CBL subject areas
too. A particular one I have in mind is for memorizing equations: this
will require adding MathML rendering support to the J2ME client.

The current release is 0.9.2. The forthcoming 0.9.3 release adds support
for audio clips. When viewing a test, if an audio clip is available for a
particular phrase, you can click a Listen button. If the clip is already
in the phone's memory it will be played, otherwise it will be fetched from
the wiki and saved for re-use. The clips are stored as MP3 files in the
uploaded files section of the wiki. This functionality is already
available if you build the client from the CVS source. The current 0.9.2
release ignores the audio clips. The audio clips will give the system a
"talking phrasebook" functionality which I imagine will be appealing even
to those who aren't interested in learning Chinese.

After 0.9.3, the next big development will be on-phone editing and
uploading of the changes directly from the phone to the wiki. I don't
think this has been done before, either.

A particular question I can imagine that people will have is, how does
this relate to wiktionary, and doesn't it duplicate it? I think these are
the important differences:
*Occleve is not just about learning a language (eventually).
*When used for languages, Occleve is not a dictionary. It's closer to a
*Occleve stores its data in XML and the wiki is specifically designed to
act as the backend to a CBL system.

A quick look at the wiki will show that so far, I've done most of the work
on this. A few Chinese friends have helped with putting Chinese characters
into the tests, and recording audio clips. But PLEASE, if you like this
project, get involved!  Please see the to-do list on the wiki:
for the future developments I have in mind. In particular, I'd like to add
server-side mediawiki extensions to validate the XML against the DTD, and
save users from having to work directly in XML. If you have other ideas,
add them to that page. The project needs volunteers both on the software
development side, and the content provision side.

If you're learning a language (any language), why not create a test on the
vocab you're currently trying to memorize? Then you'll be able to test
yourself on the bus, the train, etc... All the software is GPL-licensed,
and all the content is GFDL-licensed.

Joe Gittings

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