Software: Velawoods English

Posted 8th September 2015
Velawoods English (previously Learndirect English) is a state of the art English learning application that I was involved in developing.
The software uses state of the art speech recognition provided by Carnegie speech, tied into a personalised 3d virtual learning experience that is underpinned by gamification principles.
The software was sold internationally, and has been adopted by schools, academies and other clients worldwide as their choice for teaching the English language to students.
When I originally joined the project it was being developed through a joint venture between Learndirect, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge English Language Assessment, and Route One game developers.
Work for the software was an incredibly varied and multifaceted process, involving my consideration for a great many factors including; educational methodologies, storytelling consistencies, UI principles, annunciation of the voice acting, bug testing, and a whole range of incredibly detailed plans and review processes.
Working initially as part of a small management team, and then as Learning experience designer at Velawoods, it was critical for me to maintain awareness for almost every aspect of the curriculum and delivery method so as to direct and also hands-on develop solutions for the many aspects of the project; from building 3D tutor sequences, to editorial for the storyboards, and much, much more.
Meanwhile I was also simultaneously handling a wide range of tasks such as: liasing with my counterparts at Cambridge University Press, visiting Route One developers in Sheffield, and more at Learndirect, and then liasing with Meta Design Solutions in India, project managing authors and ELT, and more at Velawoods.
Details of my wide variety of experience can be viewed in greater detail on my Linkedin.
Because of the innovative nature of the product, Velawoods English was shortlisted for the President's award for new technology in the English Language Awards; which is hosted each year by the English Speaking Union at Green Park in London. (A union that was once chaired by Winston Churchill.)
Unfortunately we did not win, but it was an honour for such a new initiative to be up against longer standing contenders - BBC Learning English and Oxford University press.
Mark Nathan Willetts is a creative entrepreneur from Nottingham, England. His artistic work has been exhibited internationally. And he has worked as an educator and senior editor at companies such as Experian and Velawoods.
"We must continually grow until our ideas converge for a better future"
- Mark Nathan Willetts