Adaptive Educational Apps for Self-taught Literacy and Numeracy

Name: George Kachergis
Organisation: Radboud University Nijmegen
Abstract:

I will present and discuss a suite of interconnected tablet-based educational apps designed and developed over the past year by my startup (http://www.egoteach.com). The goal of this software is to yield much of the benefit of individual tutoring--the most effective known intervention education--without requiring difficult-to-deploy human teachers, while also providing measurement that can be used to further science as well as the software. These apps, by both adapting to the learner’s progress (e.g., adjusting dynamics and content based on their speed and accuracy), as well as giving them some self-direction in what they are studying (e.g., allowing them to choose what to study, and how to approach some problems), will increase interaction and motivation, give immediate feedback, and scaffold content appropriately. Our adaptive tutor system offers a set of tablet-based games that teach core literacy skills (e.g., the alphabet, phonemes, words, and sentences), and train students in basic numeracy and arithmetic (counting, addition, subtraction, and multiplication). The games use nature-based themes and graphics: for example, the number-learning and counting game involves tapping on moving ladybugs with numbers on their back, and the addition and subtraction game requires dragging a stick between lilypads in a pond for ants to walk across. Drawing upon interdisciplinary methodologies from education, game design, and cognitive psychology, the apps incorporate basic research results from the learning, memory, and attention literature in an attempt to adapt appropriately to each student’s individual aptitudes and difficulties. I will discuss a pilot study of 40 7-year-olds with little formal schooling this past November in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The egoTeach software is under consideration for the Global Learning XPRIZE (http://learning.xprize.org/), and if successful will be open-sourced and distributed on thousands of tablets in Tanzania for 18 months.

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