Japan's iKnow Opens API for Cognitive Learning

iKnow, a social learning site launched last month by Japanese company Cerego, has launched an API (our iKnow profile) to allow third parties to "add a little Learning and Linguistic magic to [their] applications, widgets and other mashups." iKnow allows users to take virtual English and Japanese language lessons (other languages are promised for the future) and guides and tracks their progress. Through the social component users can share their progress with friends, leave comments, keep journals, and compete for rankings.

The new API provides developer access to most aspects of the site, including user information, studying and social activity, and study items. The REST-like interface allows read (GET) access to all items without authentication, whereas POST and DELETE calls for creating and removing content require both an API key and authentication via HTTP basic or OAuth. Responses are available in XML, HTML, RSS, and JSON for most calls.

One unique aspect of the iKnow API, a result of its focus on language learning, is XMLVocabulary, a data format for describing vocabulary learning items. The XML structure specifies "cues" and "responses" to aid in memorization, as well as images, sounds, and sample sentences. XMLVocabulary is specific to iKnow, but the company is interested in "evolving this standard so it can benefit others," and has also proposed learning microformats, beginning with hVocabulary.

Cerego boasts that its 280,000 registered users have spent over 15 million minutes using iKnow's learning tools. That averages out to only 67 minutes each, but browsing the site's social areas show that many members are actively using the service and forming a community. With the new API not only allowing information to be pulled from the service, but also new content to be created, the company is banking on the site's mass and momentum to continue increasing.

API documentation, a so-far quiet developer forum, and a public wiki can all be found on the Cerego iKnow developer portal. No sample applications have been provided so far but there is Ruby code for parsing the XMLVocabulary format.

This is the 5th API in our directory tagged "Japan". Feel free to tell us about others either in the comments here or via our share form.

Be sure to read the next API article: 1,000 Web APIs


Comments (3)

The Company name is Cerego and the 15,000,000 minutes was for the month for September alone


I am curious about the broken privacy policy link. I'd love to sign up but I can't tell and I am concerned about what's going to happen to my email overload situation once I give iKnow my information. It looks like an invitation for yet more spam. Below is the link in context from the iKnow Policy page:

Registration Data and certain other information about you is subject to our Privacy Policy. For more information, see our full privacy policy at http://www.cerego.com/privacy.html. You understand that through your use of the Service you consent to the collection and use (as set forth in the Privacy Policy) of this information, including the transfer of this information to the United States and/or other countries for storage, processing and use by Cerego and its affiliates.

Thanks for the nice write-up Jordan. I'm the Head of Product Development at Cerego and your writeup is the best one I've come across so far!

We are very excited about opening up our API, and over the next few weeks, we will be expanding our offering so that users will be able to create learning content in any language (not just English and Japanese). This functionality will be released on our main site as well as via the API.

We very much look forward to seeing what type of creative mash-ups developers create over the next few months, and in the long run, are hoping to cultivate a thriving ecosystem that enables the creation of new and innovative applications for learning.

As far as the total number of minutes iKnow! users have studied to date, while your calculations suggest it's "only 67 minutes per user", as I'm sure you can imagine, the distribution is far from even. If you factor in that (like on almost any site) the majority of users fail to remain active, the numbers reveal that our active users have actually spent many hours studying on iKnow!