Weekly roundup: edtech

Headlines

For a look at some of the more interesting trends in edtech, read through 5 Ways Digital Tools Are Transforming the Education Space over on edtechmagazine.com. Author Eric Sheninger is a senior fellow with the International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE) and the article includes recommendations for teachers on how to harness the power of digital tools in a classroom. Sheninger’s suggestions tend toward encouraging students to take ownership of their learning and to develop real-world skills. Read more.

Resources

Common Sense Media is an online resource for parents, kids, and educators to provide guidance in navigating the world of educational technology. The site rates apps and tools, and also publishes guides and lesson plans. Common Sense Media’s Mission page provides a good overview of the site’s resources.

All Children Reading: literacy and edtech

All Children Reading is a project launched in 2011 by USAID, World Vision, and the Australian government. Its purpose? To promote literacy in developing countries through technological innovation. In a quote from the official website, the organization states:

…a 2013/2014 UNESCO report indicates that 250 million children across the globe are not learning basic literacy and numeracy skills.

In a first round of grant awards, All Children Reading chose 32 projects in over 22 countries to support. From interactive whiteboards in Haiti to a low-cost digital platform for mother-tongue educational material in Zambia, the projects all strove to bring the power of reading and writing to disadvantaged children. A full list of the grant-recipients along with project descriptions is available here.

blackboard

From 2014 through 2017, All Children Reading will again be funding projects and also supporting a number of competitions to further develop ICT solutions to illiteracy. One of the most exciting calls for submissions is EduApp4Syria, launched in partnership with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. The project aims to develop a mobile app to aid Syrian refugee children in learning to read in a way that is fun, engaging, and improves their pyschosocial well-being. For more details click here.

You can find the latest updates on the All Children Reading website or blog.

Weekly roundup: dyslexia, dyscalculia

Headlines

Just last week we featured a story on a dyslexic employee who won a disability discrimination against Starbucks. Dyslexic employment policies are back in the news this week but with a different twist: a marketing firm is advertising only for job-seekers who are dyslexic. The ad copy reads:

If Steve Jobs was an agency, what would it look like? …We require people with a unique mind, so only dyslexics (like Steve) should apply.

The marketing firm is called The Garage and is run by Chris Arnold, former creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi.

For the details click over to the Guardian and read through the story. What do you think about this type of advertising? A needed boost for dyslexics or reverse discrimination? Read more.

Resources

Located in the Houston area? Dyscalculia Services and the Dyscalculia Training Center are offering a free information session on math anxiety and dyscalculia on 3 March 2016 in Houston, Texas. For more details visit the Dyscalculia Services website.

Edtech in developing countries

There is no doubt that education is one of the most potent tools for combatting poverty (see this U.N. report on Education First for more information). Yet the need for teachers, school supplies, and other resources remains dire in many countries.

We are going to be doing a series of posts on educational technology in developing countries here at the Dybuster blog. We warmly welcome readers to share their thoughts and experiences as we begin to explore this topic. Leave your comments at the end of a post or get in touch via our contact form.

Our first research on edtech in developing countries led us to the EduTech blog on the World Bank website. Written by Michael Trucano, the blog is a must-read for anyone looking for insights into the use of ICTs (information and communication technologies) around the world.

The post that initially led us to the blog was this one from 2014: In search of the ideal educational technology device for developing countries.

Trucano lists what he considers to be top considerations for designers looking to create devices for populations in developing countries. His first five priorities:

  • affordability
  • accessibility
  • connectivity
  • electricity
  • usability

Read through the article to get the full picture on each of these attributes. However the author’s perhaps most salient point comes right at the end:

If you really want good answers to these sorts of questions, you should ask the people themselves to whom you hope to sell such devices. Better yet: Work with them (observe them, talk with them, hire them, fund them) as part of your design process. 

Michael Trucano – Read more.

What do you think? What considerations should edtech designers and producers keep foremost in their minds as they look to create devices for developing countries?

Weekly roundup: dyslexia

Headlines

A dyslexic employee won a disability discrimination case against Starbucks, the BBC reported this week. The employee, Meseret Kumulchew, had been accused of falsifying work documents after she mistakenly entered wrong information in a roster.

The judgement found that Starbucks had discriminated against Ms. Kumulchew. Her mistakes were due to her dyslexia, of which her employer was aware, but she was ordered to retrain and take on lesser duties. The ordeal greatly impacted Ms. Kumulchew’s well-being, even leading, according to the article, to suicidal thoughts. Hopefully Ms. Kumulchew’s case will lead to greater awareness of dyslexia in the workplace and encourage employers to provide dyslexic employees with appropriate support when needed. Read more.

Resources

Photo credit: the Italian voice via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Photo credit: the Italian voice via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Education search engine Noodle.com aims to provide a vast amount of education information to parents and students. The site lists classes, colleges, and service providers (such as tutors), and also allows visitors to type in education-related questions. The visitor can then either submit the question to be answered or browse through related-questions from the site’s database that have already been answered by a Noodle employee.

Noodle also provides a library of articles that are very well worth a browse. Typing “dyslexia” into the site’s search box returns quite a list of titles all related to the learning difference.

Dybuster Coach and Analytics

Dybuster software is designed to allow children to practice reading and math independently. Orthograph and Calcularis guide the user through a series of learning games that increase with difficulty according to a child’s progress and learning needs. The software has been shown to help children with dyslexia and dyscalculia improve their spelling and math skills.

However the software is not designed to replace teachers or therapists. Teachers and parents are the most important guides of a child’s learning path. To give those guides the best possible overview of a student’s progress, we include Dybuster Coach with every school and home license of our software.

Both Orthograph Coach and Calcularis Coach give parents access to in-depth feedback on how often their child has used the software and how long each session has lasted. Reports include which words or math problems have been practiced and which ones still pose difficulties. Statistics predict error probabilities. The Modules feature in Orthograph Coach allows parents to create lists of words tailored to their child’s practice needs.

Teachers and specialists can use the analytics in Dybuster Coach to track an entire classroom’s progress, compare how different students are doing, and create individual reports. They have an immediate overview as to which students are developing what skills, as well as information on length and frequency of the practice sessions. This detailed feedback can then be used to supplement a teacher’s other instruction or to aid in a dyslexia or dyscalculia intervention program.

To test out Dybuster software for yourself, please visit the Orthograph trial page (software for dyslexia) or the Calcularis trial page (software for dyscalculia).

Dybuster Coach: track and analyze a child’s progress as he or she develops letter and number skills.

Weekly roundup: edtech, dyscalculia, dyslexia

Headlines

weekly roundup edtech dyscalculia dyslexiaCheck out this interesting report on competitive edtech grants from Education Week. Certain school districts in the U.S. are trying out programs whereby teachers pitch their ideas in a competitive process to gain funding for educational technology. Rather than distributing the available funds to all classrooms, only teachers who successfully apply are awarded grants.

The process is supposed to further innovation and encourage teachers who visions on how to use educational technology in their classrooms. On the other hand, this could limit funds to teachers who already have a flair for tech rather than encouraging use of educational technology throughout a school. What do you think of this approach? Add your thoughts to the comments or read more here.

For those with an interest in dyscalculia, there has been a new study released on the area of the brain involved in visual number processing. Researchers at Jena University in Germany used MRI scans to link this processing to a portion of both brain hemispheres. Read more.

Resources

Our big resource this week is our list of Top 5 dyslexia websites posted on Tuesday. Have a look at our favorite online resources for dyslexics and feel free to add your own in the comments!

Top 5 dyslexia websites

Looking for some top quality dyslexia resources? Check out this list of top five sites culled from our favorites!

top 5 dyslexia websites dybusterUnderstood.org
This site aims to further understanding and awareness of a range of learning differences, including dyslexia. From symptoms to treatments to guidance on talking to your child about dyslexia, this site is a must-visit for dyslexics and their families.

Dyslexic Advantage Blog
A veritable wealth of current information on dyslexia, including federal guidelines for student accommodations, this blog also features inspiring figures with dyslexia. These latter run the gamut from an MIT professor to Mark Ruffalo. Bonus points for a post featuring the one and only Winnie the Pooh. 🙂

Codpast.org
How can you resist that name? The Codpast features podcasts on a host of topics from why dyslexics make great secret agents to more education-centered stories for parents.

Dyslexia Help
From the University of Michigan, this site provides useful lists of apps for dyslexia and assistive technology and software. Especially good for locating practical technological aids for learning differences.

Dyslexia Headlines
For keeping up with all the latest dyslexia news, this site is invaluable. A steady stream of news stories that relate to dyslexia appears in the site’s blog stream.

This list definitely is not exhaustive; there are too many great sites out there! What are your favorite dyslexia websites? We are in the middle of re-designing our own dyslexia learning games site; stay tuned for a new look soon!

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