Activity report

Long time no see,

  lately, we have been busy spreading the word of Babelium attending two conferences:  “Jakintza Librearen III. Jardunaldiak“, organized by Azkue Fundazioa (a foundation that encourages innovative ways of supporting Basque/Euskera in the new technologies) it was held in Bilbao (May, 30) and we were delighted to take part in the event along with other Basque startups like Hermeneus,  Dirutza or Kulturize (Akting).

Our second invitation to talk came from Montehermoso (Vitoria-Gasteiz), a neat documentation center that promotes and disseminates art and contemporary art. Focussing on the free software philosophy, Montehermoso held a conference where different models for accessing and consuming knowledge were analysed.   We talked about the origin of Babelium, and how is it being used for second language speaking practice.

On the technical side, we have been working on tracing the origin of this audio related bug (3156305) in Adobe’s Flash Player 11.2:  “Audio only FLVs previously published from flash player no longer play back”.  It’s a major bug with regard to Babelium’s functionality, because it prevented to play audio only recordings! Thanks to the hard work of @inkoperurena , we could be able to pinpoint the origin of the bug (a change – with regard to previous versions – in the behaviour of Flash Player when the internal metadata value of a FLV video named videocodecid changed to -1 lead to being unable of playing it) and fix it.

Second, we have revamped the videoplayer’s design, so the size of the video canvas is now bigger than before (allowing a more comfortable reading of texts inside the video, a much needed feature for reading aloud activities, for example)

Third, they keywords of any video are now not only shown alongside each video, but they are also clickable, so a user can search any other video related to the actual one.

We keep working on new and exciting features that will be announced soon in this blog, so stay tuned!

New features

Just a quick post to inform you about our progress within Babelium project’s development.

* Now it’s possible to upload WMV (Windows Media Video) files as the source for new video-exercises

* When a new response is recorded using the Moodle plugin, the user can click directly a View Response button (previously, it was possible to review the response, but users had to click in the “Play” button, a less intuitive action)

And a bug, not due to our fault, but Adobe’s:

* We have been bitten by this bug in latest version of Flash plugin that makes audio-only FLVs published in Red5 no longer play back. Is there any workaround? Yes, a little bit inconvenient, nonetheless. You have to either upgrade your Flash plugin to a newer beta version 11.3 or downgrade it to 11.1 .

Releasing a Moodle Plugin for Babelium

We are excited to present you a new plugin for language speaking practice in Moodle.

This plugin allows students to record their voices and/or their faces (using their microphones and webcams) for:

    • developing a spoken story (free speech)
      See an example: speaking about how to save energy (in Basque!) (As you can see, it is possible to help your students using picture tips while they are speaking)

All these exercises must be previously prepared by the teacher and uploaded in in order to use them later in Moodle.

The Babelium plugin works with Moodle 1.9 and Moodle 2.x. You can install it by following the instructions: How to install the Babelium plugin.

UPDATE (2012/06/10): If you want to see it in action and test the plugin (as a teacher or as a student) before installing it, you can use our test server (thanks to RedHat’s OpenShift for their hosting facilities):

Moodle 2.x test server

Please, take into account that this test server could be reseted anytime, so use it only for testing purposes.

Questions and answers (FAQ)

* What kind of license applies to the Babelium plugin?
Babelium plugin’s source code is free software (GPLv3 license).
Download: Moodle 1.9 plugin v0.9.2 (zip)
Download: Moodle 2.x plugin v0.9.2 (zip)

* Where are my videos being recorded?
When you record an answer (both audio or video answer) it is saved in our own Babelium server (

This recording is a private video there (other users of website can’t see it). The exercise is only available to be assessed in the corresponding Moodle course by the corresponding teacher (in

* Can I record the videos using my own or private Babelium server?
Of course you can! Babelium server’s source code is also free software (GPLv3). You can download and install it in your own private server.

* Great! but I need help with the plugin and/or server installation.
We are here to support you. Please, ask your questions in Babelium user’s mailing list or contact us via Twitter (@babelium)

If you want detailed explanations about the installation of the Plugin, remember that you can follow these instructions.

If you want detailed explanations about the installation of your own Babelium Server, follow these other instructions.

* Can I contact some representatives from Babelium directly?
Yes, you can. If you want to contact our support services directly, email us at

Buber awards video

Hi, following the previous post here’s the Buber Awards 2011 ceremony video. Babelium is awarded at 55:40 (the video is in Basque & Spanish):

Buber Awards 2011

The awarded projects and their categories:

Babeliumek 2011ko Buber Berrikuntza saria jaso du!

logoHerenegun Babelium Buber sarietako Berrikuntza proiektua kategoriako finalista zela jakin genuen, Gaia Net Exchange eta EITB a la carta proiektuekin batera.

Irabazlea ezagutzeko zeremonia gaur ospatu da EITBren Bilboko egoitzan eta Babelium IRABAZLEA izan dela oraintxe bertan jakin dut zeremoniara joan diren taldekideen eskutik. ZORIONAK DENOI EGINDAKO LAN BIKAINARENGATIK!

Sari hau pertsona askoren lanaren emaitza da, trukean ezer eskatu ez duten ikasle, ikertzaile eta irakasle askoren lana. Garaikurra GHyM taldeak jaso du baina Babeliumek bide luzea egin du bere sorkuntzatik gaurko egunera. Horregatik proiektuaren garapen eta sustapenean parte hartu duten pertsona guztiei esker berezia luzatu nahi diet: Ander, Andoni, Beñat, Iker, Imanol, Iñigo, Jonathan, Unai, Raúl, Leire, Urtza, Asier, Aintzane… (norbait ahaztu badut barka diezadala, emozioa dela eta izango zen) zuen lana gabe ez ginateke gauden lekura iritsiko. Sari hau zuentzat da, MILESKER BIHOTZ BIHOTZEZ!

Aintzatespen honek Babelium egunero-egunero hobetzen jarraitzera animatzen gaitu. Hortaz, ziur egon sari hau lehena bai, baino azkena ez dela izango.

ZORIONAK berriz ere, eta hurrengo mezurarte.

Babelium / Moodle integration plugin

Long time no see! We have been quite busy the last four months here in GHYM. First, we presented our latest version of Babelium at the JISBD 2011 congress, in A Coruña (Galicia, Spain). It caused a very good impression among the assistants and we got a lot of feedback and suggestions. One of the most recurrent was to encourage us to integrate Babelium in Moodle (the most used opensource LMS platform). As a matter of fact we were already working in such an integration because we knew that a lot of language schools were using that platform for their online claseses.

And there you go! We’ve recently finished a new neat plugin that allows anyone to integrate Babelium with the Moodle platform. What does it mean? Well, now you can choose a new type of assignment: a Babelium activity. This will allow you, as a teacher, to choose one video exercise to propose to your students (from a list of the videos that you’ve uploaded to Babelium)

Then, when your students access this assignment, they will be able to choose a role and start recording their voice (and their faces if they opted in to use also their webcam, a good thing to avoid cheating 😉

We have recently made a public presentation of the Moodle plugin at the Moodle Moot Euskadi Conference, held on October 21, in Vitoria, and organized by HABE (a major institution in the Basque language teaching arena). As usual, we will publish the source code once we polish the sharp corners (meaning, as soon as possible!)

Meanwhile, you can watch this video that shows the plugin in action. Hope you like it!

EdMedia 2011 conference

Hello everyone,

Babelium Team here, reporting from the beautiful city of Lisbon, Portugal.

These days we have been at the EdMedia 2011 conference presenting our latest improvements for the Babelium platform and attending to several interesting lectures about educational innovation.

The conference went really well, the audience was great and they seemed to be delighted with Babelium and the possibilities of the tools we’ve recently developed. They also asked several questions that left us with a good taste in the mouth and made us think that we are working in the right direction.

In the past months a group of teachers and students have been testing Babelium and using it as their main platform/way for oral practice for the English subject. Afterwards, we asked them about their experience with the platform and about the things they would like us to improve.

Although almost all the feedback was more than positive some teachers and students told us that they missed having a tool to easily produce videos that can be later used as exercises or oral tests in the platform. The keyword they used was easy, they told us they don’t know much about computers and therefore don’t know how to use a professional video editing tool such as Adobe After Effects (or it’s open source alternative OpenShot).

We’ve used all this feedback to compose an article in which we try to give a solution to these problems via a series of tools that are easy to use for any kind of user, be he/she an expert in computers or not. We will publish this work shortly but in the meantime, you can watch this video presentation and read the related article that we have presented in EdMedia.

Aside from the conference we visited some of the most beautiful spots of the city (which was cool), ate some of the best typical portuguese food (which was great) and drank some of the finest portuguese wine vinho verde (which was awesome).

All in all it has been a wonderful experience, and we all wish we could stay a little longer here to visit some coastside towns and discover more architectural treasures.

Babelium’s TV appearence

NickDutNikAs we told you in the previous post, after doing a presentation at IEB, Babelium Project’s developers were contacted to record an interview for a local TV magazine show called nickdutnik.

The show aired yesterday and now they’ve put the interview video in their channel.

We’ve added a full text transcript (in Basque) of the interview using Universal Subtitles, a very powerful open-source video captioning solution.

If you feel like it, you can translate this subtitles to your own language or, if you think we misspelled something, or are not happy with the synchronization of the texts, you can edit them and make an improved version.

We can see Juanan Pereira (Babelium’s lead project manager) here,  explaining how Babelium works.

First, he describes what the Babelium user’s typical life-cycle consists of : uploading a video, adding subtitles, record a dubbing and asking  some other user’s evaluation of that dubbing.

Then he shows our concern with the licencing of the material the users upload to our site, “we always encourage users to upload Creative Commons material”.

Later on, he comments on the solution the development team came up with to balance the user activities in the application: the credit system. “You can’t pretend to constantly ask things from other people and don’t give anything in return”.

After this, Juanan recalls how Babelium was born “out of a personal need” of several developers.

Last, he reasons the decision to make all the code licensed under GPLv3 and the benefits this kind of licence offers, specially, to projects whose aim is spreading and using minority languages.

The development team wishes to thank all the people who’ve helped us to spread the word about Babelium. We are glad to see our little project is growing and we are so excited about the idea of creating a big, open, speaking-practice community.

See you on the next post 😉

Don’t fear the media, BE the media!

Informatikari Euskaldunen VIII. BilkuraYesterday we were on IEB (Basque Computer Scientists’ Gathering) to give a short speech about Babelium Project.

This year IEB’s main topic was social networks and collaborative applications so we thought Babelium Project should be there.

Our speech went really well. People seemed to be excited about the application and got to ask questions about Babelium. Also, we didn’t have problems at all with the presentation (we’ve seen way too many times that the laptops used in the presentations either don’t have Flash Player installed or don’t even have internet, so this time we were prepared even for the worst. We recorded some videos showcasing some of the app’s features and those were coded to multiple formats too just to be sure they could be played). Several people in the audience congratulated us and showed an interest in collaborating with us to add new features to the app.

We also met some basque-french people and they told us they had heard about the application (this was a nice surprise for us, truth be told) and saw the audience smile when we played a video in which one of the developers was dubbing an excerpt of a basque movie.

One of the questions that arised during the conference was whether Babelium was able to provide machine-based automatic evaluations just in case some user’s evaluation didn’t get evaluated by another user or the user itself didn’t want to be evaluated by another person.

Truth is one of the developers of Babelium worked on this in the past. Using Spinvox’s transcription service API we managed to guess the percentage of accurateness of what the user meant to say in several languages (English, Spanish, German…) with pretty good results. But when Spinvox was bought by Nuance we had to temporarily put down this module. Though, you can still check out the code on our GoogleCode page.

After the speech we spoke with a reporter of a basque tv channel’s (ETB3) show called Nickdutnik and he told us he was interested in Babelium and wanted to interview the development team.

So we went and chatted for almost half an hour! (the guy seemed really interested on the idea as a whole). We don’t know when the interview will be aired but will give you word when the time comes.

So, all in all it was a fine day. Now let’s see was comes out of it.

P.S.: For those interested, you can have a look at the presentation’s slides here (they are in Basque).

The show must go on!

Hi there! Well it goes without saying that we haven’t been elected as an organization in this year’s GSoC initiative. Well, we will try again next year 😉 In the meantime, we have added some new features to Babelium Project’s code repository (note that we want to test that features internally before updating the official website with that commits)

  • Detection of multiple concurrent users editing the same video’s subtitles (changeset). Using Red5’s RemoteSharedObject feature, any user that asks to edit any video’s subtitles will be warned if Babelium detects that there is any other user editing the same subtitle group. It is up to the user to continue editing or not but at least he or she has been warned!
  • Allow multiple subtitle lines (changeset)
  • Added a link to home in Babelium’s logo (this one is currently applied in
  • Customized permalinks in this blog. Forget about the Now we have semantically rich permalink (look at the URL of this post) 🙂
  • Fixed issue #16: “My assessed responses” should show “Last assessment” date (in Evaluations module)

I plan to post a more detailed article about the first highlighted feature (Detection of multiple concurrent users editing the same video’s subtitles) in a few days. I’ll see you then!