Learning, adapting and planning for a school year like no other!

It has been an eventful summer term to say the least! Whilst our school visits have been on hold, our team have taken the opportunity to reflect on project progress so far.

In this term’s newsletter, we share how we have been publicizing our technologies to a wider audience. We also report how partners have been sharing the preliminary results of our large scale evaluation studies through local team events, consortium discussions and by presenting our findings at online conferences and seminars.

As we prepare for the coming academic year, we are still uncertain about what the autumn/fall term will hold for many schools. From our conversations so far, we have once again been reminded of how amazingly responsive school teams are in adapting to situations that they find themselves in whilst putting children’s wellbeing first.

With this in mind, we have started planning for how our participating schools might use the iRead technologies both in and out of the classroom. This means considering how children might access tablets within their smaller group ‘bubbles’, and what this means for ongoing support, record keeping and planning and for building on children’s reading skills.

Whilst we find ourselves in uncertain times, we are motivated by the opportunities this period offers for rethinking how the iRead apps can support learning in new ways.

Sending well wishes from all the iRead project team over this difficult period. We hope you have a healthy and restful summer and look forward to bringing you more updates later in the Autumn term…

(If someone else passed this newsletter on to you and you would like to receive future iRead news subscribe here)

Navigo game receives recommendation from Catalan Department for Education

We are delighted to announce that the Navigo game is now recommended by the Catalan Department of Education!

In June 2020, the Navigo game was included in the list of external tools recommended for supporting students’ individual self-training at home. As part of our open pilot study in Spain, the governmental website describes how the Navigo game can be downloaded and accessed at home for supporting children’s reading skills.

Congratulations to Professor Roger Gilabert and the University of Barcelona iRead team for this fantastic achievement!

Parents and children join us online for our “Navigo at home” events series

To celebrate our recent ‘Hungry Little Minds’ quality mark award from the Department for Education in England, we organised three interactive Facebook Live events for both parents and children.

Our first two events were led by our UCL research team and provided guidance for parents looking to use high-quality readings apps with their children at home including specific advice for supporting children with dyslexia.

We were joined by children for our final session who quizzed fish in a bottle game developers Drew and Tom about what it’s like to design games as a job.

It was great to have lots of engagement during the events, with over 100 people signed up in advance to join us and over 1000 views of the videos on our Facebook page. The videos and accompanying resources from this series can now be accessed via our Resources for Families web page.

iRead sponsors Interaction Design for Children 2020 virtual conference

The iRead project was proud to sponsor the Interaction Design and Children conference this year! The IDC conference is an international event that attracts an interdisciplinary group of researchers in academia and industry. The IDC conference audience are all concerned with how to design and understand the impact of digital technologies for children with children’s learning featuring as a central theme in the conference.

In addition to sponsorship, the iRead project teams were involved in a number of ways this year, including co-organising a workshop on personalised learning, and demoing both the Amigo reader and Navigo game during the demos and industry event track. iRead researcher Seray Ibrahim presented work on using design tools to inform perspectives on technology design for disability, which received the Best Full Paper award and the conference was co-chaired by our very own project lead, Mina Vasalou!

Ask the teachers across Europe – blog series

As we pause our work in schools this term we thought it would be a good opportunity to check in with some of our iRead schools to see if they have any tips to share about using the Navigo game and Amigo reader apps within their classes.

In the first of this blog series, Clare Stephens, Head of Learning Support at Stormont school in the UK, describes using the Navigo game alongside existing spelling interventions in small groups. Reflecting on the factors that have helped to ensure success, Clare highlights the importance of preparing beforehand and having access to a demo tablet so that she can model activities to children as they play.

In the second teacher blog, Kiriaki Agathaggelidou, teacher at 33rd Primary School of Peristeri in Greece, describes the goals and activities of their school setting. Considering how children used the Navigo game to support their learning, Kiriaki recounts how children moved between identifying familiar words within the game, to involving their teachers to support them with new words encountered in the game.

A huge thanks to all teachers involved for sharing such valuable insights! Stay tuned for our third teacher blog which is due out later this week.

Our first virtual consortium meeting

Unfortunately our June 2020 partner meeting, scheduled to take place in Barcelona, was re-arranged to take place online. Face-to-face consortium meetings offer many benefits, not to mention being able to enjoy the cultural delights of the host city(!), they also offer opportunities for engaging in meaningful discussions in a less formal space. Whilst team members are used to video conferencing, we were unsure of what to expect of a large scale meeting with so much content to cover over a two day period, across different time zones.

We found that the schedule of video meetings worked well in allowing for discussion and reflection, as well as impromptu smaller meetings to occur in parallel. It was really exciting to hear about the many developments that had been happening, including possible avenues for how we can share our linguistic infrastructure (i.e. reading domain models, dictionaries) with the edTech community, potential game studies involving eye-tracking, interview coding techniques as well as new ways to analyse the game log dataset that offers fascinating insights into game mechanic design and reading skill mastery.


Left: Spanish eye-tracking pilot study; Right: Prototype promotional video explaining linguistic infrastructure 

A very big thank you to our Project Manager Panos Papoutsis for coordinating the meetings and making it a pleasure to be part of!

In other news…

  • Leona Bunting from the UGOT team was invited to speak at University West’s online seminar series. She shared insights from the iRead project evaluation phase and engaged in discussions with researchers from the LINA group.
  • The UCL team have created a set of bite-sized ‘how to’ videos that demonstrate ways of getting started with the Navigo game. Access these videos through the iRead website Resources for Families page
  • Kay Berkling from DHBW presented a poster on the effects of immediate game feedback on knowledge acquisition about orthographic patterns. The research was presented at the online edition of the EDULEARN conference this year, complete with her own avatar for communicating the findings in a virtual space!
  • Judit Serra from the UOB team participated in the European Second Language Acquisition Conference‘s doctoral workshop, sharing insights about the team’s research.
  • Matthew Pattemore and Roger Gilabert presented a paper at Gamilearn’19 in Barcelona and were also invited to speak at the University of Groningen during an eye-tracking workshop.
  • The British Council team presented the iRead Project at the European Day of Languages event which attracted an audience of more than 150 members of the public. The event was organised by the EU National Institutes of Culture as a means of promoting awareness of language learning and linguistic heritage.

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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