Preparing for the pilots!

This term we have been working hard to finalise the apps ready for our first pilot studies in schools which will begin next term as well as designing our professional development program to support teachers to use the apps in the classroom.

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.

Final app testing and trials in school

This term the development teams have been working extremely hard to ensure that the apps are ready to be used in schools for the upcoming pilot studies. This has involved a significant collaborative effort between the teams from Fish in a Bottle, NTUA, ULBS, DFKI and Dolphin to ensure different aspects of the iRead apps are working smoothly together, including the incorporation of the login screen and teacher tools for selecting games/books.

Meanwhile the education partners have been back in schools running some final trials of the apps to prepare for the pilot studies. These trials have helped us plan the student groupings, session timings and resources needed for the pilot. We selected a range of schools to visit to ensure we covered different potential scenarios of use, for example:

  • The UCL team trialled the Amigo Reader in a suburban girls school with students from age 5 – 11 years. Researchers demonstrated how some of the reader features can be used to independently learn and practise difficult words. It was great to see how students were quickly able to successfully use this strategy during their reading.
  • The University of Barcelona went a rural school with only 41 students. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year students share the same class, and so do 4th, 5th, and 6th graders. These were ideal conditions for the adaptivity component of iRead, which caters to every student’s reading skill needs.
  • The UCL team also trialled the Navigo game in a specialist dyslexia school. The potential for the game to motivate struggling readers was clear during one visit when a student who had been very upset about not being able to read more than 2-3 letter words became immediately engaged and experienced many successes when playing the game.

Learning design workshops with teachers

Over the past term all partners have run workshops for teachers to explore how to integrate the iRead apps in the classroom. We have developed a methodology for learning design using a design thinking approach that all partners have been following. During each workshop, teachers and researchers have worked together using four categories of tangible cards representing all aspects of the iRead technologies, six learning types, three learning objectives and four setup configurations. The image below shows one example card for each category and University of Gothenburg researchers working hard to prepare them for their workshops! Thanks to this work, we have collected a number of learning designs for pupils in our target groups in Sweden, Greece, Romania, Spain, Germany and the UK.

The workshops will continue after the Easter break, and afterwards the learning designs will be evaluated and integrated in the iRead teacher manual that will support the use of our apps in the classroom next year. If you want to get involved and receive an initial training on the iRead apps, send an email to iread@ucl.ac.uk.

Pilots shortly to begin in schools across Europe

We are very excited as we are about to begin our first set of pilot studies next term (April – July) in the UK, Spain, Sweden, Greece, Romania and Germany. We have designed two different researcher-led studies each focusing on some of the novel features of the Amigo reader and the Navigo game apps. Schools are able to participate in one or both studies.

Amigo Reader Pilot Study

The reader study will focus on the pre-teaching and highlighting features that are available within the Amigo Reader. The reader is able to automatically identify specific language features within an ebook and present the student with appropriate teaching instructions focused around these features prior to opening the book. There is also a highlighting feature available when students are reading the text, which reinforces the language feature by highlighting all instances of, for example, a particular vowel sound or prefix/suffix within the words.

Navigo Game Pilot Study

The game study will focus on the feedback provided within the different game activities when students make mistakes. We have carefully designed audio hints and visual cues to support students to recover from errors and this study will allow us to explore what the students notice about the different feedback designs and how they use the information to help them decide what to do next.

From this September onwards we will begin our teacher-led pilots, which will involve many more schools using the apps over a longer period to explore how they can be best integrated within the classroom environment. Participating schools will receive tablets and full training to use the apps. We are still recruiting for this phase, so please get in touch via email for more information about getting involved.

In other news…

  • Last month Manolis Mavrikis and Yvonne Vezzoli (UCL) presented work on the adaptivity and learning analytics components at the Birkbeck University of London Knowledge Lab seminar series.
  • Roger Gilabert (University of Barcelona) gave a talk at the Language Education Department of the University of Stockholm on serious games and their impact on language acquisition.
  • UCL, NTUA and Fish in a Bottle have had a demonstration accepted to the CHI 2019 conference in Glasgow, where they will present the Navigo game app in the exhibits area during the conference.
  • In February the iRead Consortium Meeting took place in London hosted by UCL. Partners spent two productive days together finalising the deployment of the apps and planning the upcoming school pilot studies.
  • Our Navigo game has been featured on the Greek online news site Documento.
  • UCL iRead researchers Yvonne Vezzoli and Nelly Joye both successfully defended their PhD theses – a fantastic achievement and many congratulations to both of them!

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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