Awards, exhibits and lots of testing!

It has been a very busy term for us all as our app development will soon be coming to a close. We are currently ensuring the apps will work well for when we start trialling them in schools next term and alongside this starting to plan for the teacher training component. We have also been demonstrating our reading apps to researchers, practitioners, students and politicians all across Europe and even received an award for our Navigo game!

Below you can read more about the progress we have made over the past term as well as find out more about the various activities and events different project partners have been involved in.

Season’s greetings from us all and a very happy new year!

Navigo is already an award-winner!

This month we were delighted to find out that our Navigo game app won the ‘Academy’ category of the Serious Games Society’s GALA Conference Digital Games Competition. The awards were presented on 6 December at Museo Riso, in Palermo, Italy and Drew Wilkins from Fish in a Bottle accepted the award via Skype on behalf of the project.

 

 

 

 

iRead exhibits at EU Parliament

Last month Manolis Mavrikis (UCL) and Eleni Mentheniti (DFKI) attended the “Tech for Good” expo held in the European Parliament. This event brought together researchers from universities and institutions around the European Union and offered them a platform to showcase their work in artificial intelligence, cognitive sciences, medicine, computer science and their applications in the fields of education, humanities, media, design and more.

The iRead team was invited to participate in the expo to present the project’s progress, the apps that have been developed and the future steps for use in primary education. We offered reading material (posters, papers and brochures) in our booth, in addition to the two apps currently deployed (Navigo and Amigo Reader) on a tablet, which visitors were able to try for themselves.

With the upcoming pilot evaluation in schools all around Europe, iRead has certainly caught the attention of MPs and researchers alike, who are keen to follow the project’s development and want to stay informed of the pilot results and the next steps of the project.

Ensuring high-quality game activities

We are currently in the middle of the quality assurance testing period of the Navigo game app. Due to the extensive amount of learning content that will be available within the game this is an complex multi-stage process which involves checking the following aspects in each of our four languages:

  • Game mechanics – are the different games activities working in the correct way?
  • Game instructions – are the correct instructions displayed for each game activity and is the feedback provided appropriate for both the correct and incorrect answers?
  • Game content – do we have enough appropriate content (words or sentences) for each language feature within our domain models, are the distractor words/sentences suitable for the target feature? (i.e. don’t make the game too easy or too difficult).

This task involves many partners across the project particularly our linguistic experts from UCLUniversity of IoanninaDHBW and University of Barcelona who are leading on the game QA for each language. Our technical partners Fish in a Bottle and NTUA are prioritising and fixing the different issues that are identified through this process.

All issues are logged on our shared Trello board, which enables us to specify the exact conditions in which the problem occurred and also provide screenshots to help the developers in replicating the issue.

Amigo Reader digital library is now complete

In the early days of the project we encountered a big challenge – how to find high quality freely available open digital reading materials that would allow our child readers to change the presentation of the text to suit their reading preferences e.g. text size, font, background colour. To address this challenge we formed partnerships with several talented authors and publishers who kindly agreed to contribute some of their stories and poetry to the Amigo Reader digital library. We now have a diverse range of non-fiction and fiction texts in English, Spanish, Greek and German, which will be read by thousands of school children across Europe during our upcoming pilot evaluation.

      

Find out more about our fantastic author and publisher partners in our recent blog post.

Planning for teacher professional development

Over the past term all partners who will be evaluating the apps in schools have begun exploring how reading is currently taught in different schools. We have developed a lesson observation protocol that all partners have been following and we have been into a number of different literacy lessons involving pupils in our target groups in Sweden, Greece, Romania, Spain, Germany and the UK. We have also been speaking with teachers to find out more about how they plan their lessons, select reading texts, provide support for different types of pupils and use technology. We have been sharing amongst our team the different best practices we have identified and also the potential opportunities for integrating the iRead apps into existing lessons.

The outcomes of these lesson observations and interviews will provide a basis for teacher workshops which we plan to hold next term, where we will work together with teachers to design the professional development programme which will help support the use of our apps in the classroom.

    

In other news…

  • Roger Gilabert (University of Barcelona) was interviewed by the book show “Página Dos” in La 2 public TV channel. Watch the interview back online.
  • This term we have been invited to give seminars about the project in several countries including at the University of Sussex (UK), Universidad de San Jorge (Spain) and Université de Paris-Sud (France).
  • In November UCL team members from Psychology and Human Development and the UCL Knowledge Lab presented their work at the European Literacy Network Summit in Porto. Read all about it in this blog post.
  • iRead team members from UCL and University of Gothenburg have had a full paper on instructional design in children’s games-based learning accepted to the prestigious CHI 2019 conference in Glasgow, UK.
  • Pupils from Doukas School in Greece having been giving their verdicts on the Navigo game – find out what they thought here.
  • Laura Benton (UCL) led a workshop at the UCL Knowledge lab on best practices for child consent when involving children in research.

Thank You!

Last but not least we would like to acknowledge the important contribution that teachers and pupils from the following schools have made to the iRead project over the last term:

 

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