Decoder Ring: a framework for collaborative language research

Posted by Jeff Beeman on Wed, 06/09/2010 - 13:58

This spring, I wrapped up my masters degree in Educational Technology at Arizona State University. In my studies, I had the great pleasure of working with some of the trailblazing academics in the field of educational language, literacy, and gaming studies. Among the folks I've interacted with over the last several years, James Paul Gee and Elisabeth Hayes have overwhelmingly influenced my interests in academic research in the field. Guided by their seminars and publications, along with many others, including Sean Duncan and Constance Steinkuehler, I developed a strong interest in utilizing my web application development skills to create tools that further the field of academic research in language and literacy.

Last fall, I started in earnest on a project to do just that and, to make a long story very short, the ultimate result is Decoder Ring, which I've just presented at the 2010 Games, Learning & Society Conference. Decoder Ring is a web-based, collaborative language analysis tool designed for academic research of textual content. It features:

  • Abstracted, flexible, powerful data model
  • Sustainable, low cost, open source framework
  • Project- and group-based to facilitate collaboration
  • Tools for gathering (scraping), importing, browsing, and exporting large data sets
  • Automated and extensible reporting tools

I'm still working on the user-facing documentation side of things, but if you're interested in reading a bit more about it, please visit If you'd like to learn more, please take a look at the slides for my presentation at the 2010 Games, Learning and Society Conference and contact me if you'd like to learn more, including about how to gain access.

Open source

If you know anything about me, you'll know that I'm a staunch advocate of open source, both as a philosophy and as a business model. Decoder Ring is built upon the Drupal framework and the wealth of community modules and themes available for it. All of the Drupal-related code I've created for it is available on my Github page, and I'm working on releasing more of it over the coming weeks.

Here's a list of the technologies that make up the Decoder Ring platform:

Attachment Size
Decoder Ring.pdf 6.45 MB