Assessing online reading tools
A team of researchers, educators and game designers in Europe have banded together in an EU-funded program to develop infrastructure and tools for tailored teaching of reading skills. Dubbed the iRead project, the focus is on supporting primary school children in becoming confident and skilled readers. iRead partners with schools and teachers in six European countries to implement new teaching methods that utilise personalised technology in an effort to curtail illiteracy.
Research has led to the development of Navigo, a collection of over 4000 games mapped to the first three or four years of the (European) primary curriculum. It helps students practise a specific language skill through different activities and is available in English, Spanish, German and Greek. Each game is designed to mirror the types of games children play at home, and each offers elaborative feedback and motivation. A user model of the child’s learning is updated based on individual game performance, then interacts with an adaptive algorithm that determines the content/game to provide next and the rewards to be unlocked.
Navigo was recognised with a Serious Games Society award in 2018 and 2019, as well as receiving a UK Department of Education quality mark for pedagogical design.
Framework for assessment
Researchers from iRead have developed additional resources for educators, including a framework to help identify suitable reading games and tools for the classroom. The framework (available to download here) guides teachers through the suitability of specific game features based on teaching concepts and feedback/learning identification functionality.
Promise of commercialisation
iRead apps are in use by over 4000 primary school students, according to project coordinators, with the team keen to assess opportunities to commercialise the more mature technologies developed throughout the project’s four-and-a-half-year span (it is due to wrap up in June this year). It is hoped that the school pilots currently underway will deliver clearer understanding of the factors that foster or inhibit technology adoption in schools.
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