About the pedagogical project

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New Oahpa - Project 2011-2013

The project Saami Interactive online training is based on Oahpa!, An online learning program for North Saami, and integrated with courses in Saami as a foreign language. The result is a set of flexible courses that enables studies both as individual work for distance students, and for students in small groups. The project is supported with funding from Norgesuniversitetet.

Giellatekno at the Centre for Saami language technology at the University of Tromsø has developed Oahpa!, a software package that offers interactive training in vocabulary, grammar and communicative skills in Northern Saami. Now we develop Oahpa to be part of a broad course package for Saami, where part of the teaching will take place as an independent study on the Internet. By building on Oahpa and also develop new teaching materials, we are able to give students educational and technological well-adapted flexible educational programs.

Northern Saami is used in three countries, and to ensure that Oahpa can be used outside of Norway, is a priority target in the Saami context. To ensure the educational quality, we work with two universities in Finland, which will then help to shape and also try out the program. We will create separate learning paths for students in Finland.

This new development of Oahpa consists of:

  • Expansions of the vocabulary, including adaptation of learning materials used in Finnish universities
  • Adding multi-word expressions in Leksa
  • Adding more types of pronouns in Morfa Morfa-S and-C
  • Adding more types of verb inflections in Morfa Morfa-S and-C
  • Develop Vasta with several variants, for example. Vasta-S with the given lemmas
  • Making more dialogue for Sahka, linked to educational material from the course
  • Improving the educational feedback in these programs
  • Creating login for students and teachers, which will make it possible to monitor program use
  • Making learning paths for several university courses with deeplinking for exercises in Oahpa
  • Create toolbox for advanced students with such dependensordbok
  • Creating software for generating grammar exercises from authentic texts on the Internet.

We will monitor students' use of the programs for the development of the project, but this would also be useful for developing knowledge to educational use of ICT.

The persons behind this project are:

  • Lene Antonsen, linguist/pedagogue (project leader)
  • Berit Anne Bals Baal, linguist/pedagogue and main responsible for the learning paths
  • Bjørn Hatteng, graphical designer
  • Trond Trosterud, linguist
  • Ryan Johnson, programmer Oahpa
  • Ciprian Gerstenberger, programmer Oahpa
  • Heli Uibo, programmer Oahpa
  • Oulun yliopisto: Irja Seurajärvi-Kari

About the project OAHPA! 2007-2008

The project was financed by the Norwegian Saami Parliament (405.000 NOK) and the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Tromsø. The work was initiated during the summer of 2007, and the programs were released in february 2009.

The project had two main goals:

  1. Build programs so that students and pupils could practice their communicative Saami skills
  2. Make interactive games for Saami.

In our opinion, it was natural to integrate other resources from the university's Giellatekno-project in this project. Therefore, we made the OAHPA web portal.

The core idea of the project is to use automatic word and sentence analysis, in order to build programs that, together with the user, may interact in dialogues on everyday topics. The program may be an important addititon to pupils and students studying Saami, but also to parents and others with some knowledge of Saami, but with a feeling that the knowledge needs improvement. They will be able to practice the use of Saami, and at the same time get some guidance. The program will be available on the internet, free for use for all.

The program also contains a lexicon with approximately 100.000 words, among them approximately 40.000 names. The name lexicon makes it possible to build exercises where pupils may learn more place names and how to inflect them.

The way we make interactive games for Saami, is to adjust sámi sentences and integrate them in VISL Visual Interactive Syntax Learning-programs. With these games, the user practices grammar skills, such as knowledge of parts of speech and sentence analysis. VISL was originally made for Danish students, but now it is used by pupils in elementary and secondary schools in both Denmark and Norway.

Target group

The target group consists of students and pupils, but also the pupils' parents. Internet access is available in most homes, thus parents may, either alone or together with the children, train their Saami skills by the help of the games or by chatting with the program. The user himself chooses the topic, the program builds a dialogue on the basis of the topic, and the user's responses. The program evaluates verb declension and case usage, and tells the user what s/he has done wrong. The program can also mimic real conversations, because an answer can, to a certain degree, have an impact on the next question. If, for instance, the user answers that she/he has a dog, then the next questions can be about the dog.

The linguistic background

The language technology group at the UiT has since the year 2000 made analysis programs for a.o. North Saami, programs with which it is possible to analyse and build wordforms for Saami text, and resolve contextual disambiguities.

The project workers behind the first OAHPA were:

  1. Lene Antonsen, pedagog and linguist
  2. Biret Ánne Bals Baal, linguist
  3. Saara Huhmarniemi, programmer
  4. Kjellaug Isaksen, graphical designer
  5. Trond Trosterud, computational linguist

The VISL group at Syd-Dansk Universitet in Odense uses the same computational tools as we do (finite-state transducers and constraint grammar), and with them they have build a whole suite of pedagogical programs for using the analysed texts in different ways. In this way, it is possible to add new languages to the same framework, by basically adding analysed texts to a ready-made framwork. The VISL pages now contain pedagogical games for almost 30 different languages.

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