Video Tutorial for Calcularis, Software for Dyscalculia

Calcularis includes seventeen different learning games, all them designed to help students with dyscalculia improve their math and number skills. The software selects which games will help a student learn best, based on that child’s strengths and problem areas.

The games work to develop a user’s number processing abilities and grasp of a mental number line, such as in the Landing Game where a falling cone must be landed as close as possible to the target number on a number line. Other games allow students to practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The Shelves Game, for example, breaks multiplication down into repeated additions.

For a quick introduction to Calcularis, check out the video below. You can also try the software for free on our website.

Dybuster Colour Game – Using Colours to Map Letters to Sounds

Multi-sensory learning helps students approach a subject like spelling or maths through the use of different senses. When playing the Colour Game in Orthograph, Dybuster’s software for children with dyslexia, students associate letters with colours and also with sound. This activates new learning channels in the brain and helps children to map spoken sound to written letters, something that is difficult for dyslexics.

The video below shows the game in action and provides a voice-over guide. You can test the game yourself for free by visiting the Orthograph Trial page. No download is necessary; you can access the program in your browser.

Meet the Dybuster Team

It’s a bright sunny day in Zurich, the city where our company Dybuster is based (Orthograph and Calcularis were developed in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich). Also bright and kind of sunny, or at least orange, is the new hair color of one of our software developers, Michael. We decided to share the sunshine on our blog by making a quick introduction (with photos!) of the Dybuster team.

 

christianChristian Vögeli

Our company founder and CEO. Christian has a background in computer science and is now the head of Dybuster. The company is his baby; he lives in Lucerne with his wife Mirjam and three other babies.

 

 

 

 

justinJustin Henskens

Strategic marketing analyst, dyslexic, and huge Doctor Who fan. Fluent in five languages. Often the moving spirit behind lunch breaks.

 

 

felixFelix Fontein

Software developer and possessor of PHD in mathematics. Spends his free time reading books, taking photos, and writing programs.

 

 

michaelMichael Bürge

The one whose hair brought the sunshine today. Missing in this photo are the glowing red contact lenses. Michi works in software development at Dybuster.

 

 

James Wright

Social media manager, currently writing this post at this very minute. Artist and a dyslexic!

 

 

 

 

Not in the office today and so out of phone camera range were: Ueli Zberg, our point of contact for schools and a secondary school teacher himself; and Caroline Geissmann, our head of office administration who keeps Dybuster running smoothly. In the office but keeping out of phone camera range is the final member of our software development team, who asked to be described as an anonymous guy with a rainbow mohawk.

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.

Calcularis Learning Games: Helping to Solve Dyscalculia

Calcularis learning game for dyscalculia

Judging quantities, performing simple arithmetic, picturing numbers on a number line: all of these tasks can cause severe frustration to someone with dyscalculia. Math problems that pose no difficulty to their peers, can seem incomprehensible to dyscalculic children.

An inability to deal with numbers can leave dyscalculics with deep feelings of anxiety and inferiority when faced with anything math-related, such as counting out change or remembering the multiplication tables.

When children with dyscalculia play the Dybuster Calcularis learning games, the software gradually helps the brain to develop new learning channels and to automate mathematical processes. User studies have shown these games to be very effective: students using the software over a period of three months improved their addition skills by 30% and subtraction skills by 40%.

The games are designed to develop both numerical understanding and arithmetic operations. Students practice numbers as quantities, number words, Arabic numerals and positions on a number ray. Children progress from comparing amounts, to adding and subtracting with colored blocks, to multiplying and dividing. As their skills increase, dyscalculics also gain confidence in their own number abilities.

The results of the users studies involving Dybuster Calcularis were published in the following peer-reviewed publications:

Study about the neurplastic changes: K. Kucian, U. Grond, S. Rotzer, B. Henzi, C. Schönmann, F. Plangger, M. Gälli, E. Martin, M. von Aster. Mental number line training in children with developmental dyscalculia. NeuroImage, Neuroimage, 57(3):782-95, 2011

User adaptation, improvements in HRT (Addition/Subtraction): T. Käser, A. G. Busetto, G.-M. Baschera, J. Kohn, K. Kucian, M. von Aster, and M. Gross. Modelling and Optimizing the Process of Learning Mathematics. Proceedings of ITS (Chania, Greece, 14-18 June, 2012), pp 389-398, 2012

User adaptation, study 2011: T. Käser, G.-M. Baschera, J. Kohn, K. Kucian, V. Richtmann, U. Grond, M. Gross, and M. von Aster. Design and evaluation of the computer-based training program Calcularis for enhancing numerical cognition. Frontiers in Developmental Psychology, 4: 489, 2013

But our favorite reviews come from the parents, teachers, and students who use our software:

Tracking progress in Calcularis. Parents, teachers, and students can easily see how far a child has come in developing math skills.

Tracking progress in Calcularis. Parents, teachers, and students can easily see how far a child has come in developing math skills.

“As a mother, I am extremely impressed by Dybuster.” – Katharina, mother

“I like the fact that I can use Dybuster on my computer at home instead of having to visit a therapist.” – Jonathan, 12 years old

Like to test out the learning games yourself? Please visit the Calcularis website and download your free trial.

 

 

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TEDx Talk by Markus Gross on Dybuster’s Software

TEDx talks are the local version of TED, conferences that spread ideas and bring in speakers on a large range of topics.

One of the speakers at Zurich’s event in 2015 was Markus Gross, head Computer Graphics Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich and instrumental in the founding of Dybuster.

Markus told of his own experience as the father of a dyslexic and as a computer scientist looking for ways to help students with dyslexia.

Below you can watch this short dynamic introduction to the multi-modal learning developed by Markus and Dybuster. Learn how the struggles of Markus’s son Adrian with dyslexia led to the development of intervention software Orthograph, and eventually to the use of the same approach applied to dyscalculia in Calcularis.

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you all the best from everyone here at Dybuster! The blog will resume a regular posting schedule on 12 January 2016. Have a lovely holiday season and a great start to the new year!
XmasAtDybuster

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Dybuster Orthograph Featured on Acapela Blog

People express themselves in so many ways: through the clothes they wear, their taste in music and television shows, and, very importantly, the words they use. Our vocabulary makes up an intrinsic part of who we are. There are the words we use with our family, the words we use at school, and the words we use for work. This mix of words is unique to each individual.

When we developed Orthograph it was important to us that students with dyslexia could practice not just standard vocabulary but their own words. We wanted them to be able to build lists of the words necessary to them in all areas of their lives. The program allows dyslexics to build those lists and then reads the words back so they can be practiced.

The voices behind the words are provided by Acapela. The Acapela blog ran an article featuring Dybuster Orthograph last week and we’d like to share the article with our readers. You can read the article here or try Orthograph for yourself on our website.

LearnGame_ClicktoOpen

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What Age Groups can Benefit from Orthograph?

This is a question we get from time to time here at Dybuster: can older students and adults benefit from using Orthograph? Or is the software just meant for younger children?

Most of the user studies examining the results of using Orthograph were done with children. The first study involved eighty children between the ages of nine and eleven. The next user study was again conducted with children, forty of whom were dyslexic and twenty-seven of whom were control subjects who were not dyslexic. Both studies showed conclusive results that the software helped dyslexic children improve their reading and writing skills by activating new channels for learning in the brain.

To test the software’s benefits for adults, another study was conducted at the University of Zurich with adult dyslexics as the test participants. The study found the following results:

  • Participants made significantly fewer mistakes after three months of using the software
  • After a four month break the improvements were still measurable
  • Adults with a higher rate of mistakes at the beginning benefited most from the software

Those are pretty encouraging results! There haven’t yet been any research studies involving Orthograph and older students (teenagers and high school students). However some of the schools that include Orthograph in their curriculum have also used the software with students up through the age of eighteen. These schools have seen improvement in these students’ reading and spelling skills.

So we do think that dyslexics in all age groups can benefit from using Orthograph. Seeing children and adults alike make progress in reading and spelling through using our software is what inspires us here at Dybuster.

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Dybuster: The Beginning

It began with a father trying to help his son. Adrian is dyslexic, and despite trying each day to improve his spelling and reading, he never got through a writing exercise without making multiple errors.

“It broke my heart,” says Adrian’s father, Markus Gross. “He was trying his best under enormous psychological strain.”

Adrian's corrected homework.

Adrian’s homework with corrections.

That strain is familiar to the millions of children and adults with dyslexia, a learning disability that involves chronic difficulty with reading and writing. Markus and Adrian tried therapy after therapy – some of them very costly – but none resulted in any lasting improvement.

Over time Adrian even became disillusioned with school as a whole because he had to read and write for almost every subject. He started to lose motivation for learning altogether.

“As parents,” Markus mentions, “we put high pressure on ourselves, too, because we were afraid of the limitations on Adrian’s life choices due to his dyslexia. That put even more pressure on him.”

It was at this point that Markus decided to come up with an approach that would fit Adrian’s strengths. Adrian could remember how to spell words if he associated a word with something more concrete and geometric.

Markus Gross is head of the Institute of Computational Science and the Computer Graphics Laboratory at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. He began working on a computer program that associated letters with colors, sounds, and shapes. The exercises were sorted into learning games so that the program would be as fun to work with as possible.

The software, built with Adrian’s feedback, finally helped Markus’s son to make lasting improvement in spelling and reading. This success raised the question: could the program help other children as well? As the program was tailored to Adrian’s needs, Markus was not sure it would be applicable to other forms of dyslexia.

Case studies were performed at the University of Zürich and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The results were clear: the software could be used to generally aid children with dyslexia. Overall, the children involved in the studies improved their reading and spelling skills drastically after only a few months of working with the program.

The program was dubbed Orthograph, now distributed by the company Dybuster, formed by the researchers, developers, and teachers behind Orthograph’s creation. The software is currently used by thousands of children in Swiss schools, and by others worldwide.

“It is very rewarding,” Markus Gross says, “to see how this private project spread so widely and allows us to help so many children – and their parents – cope with the difficulties that my son and myself experienced.”

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