Learning software targets illiteracy

In the traditional classroom model, children often fall behind lesson plans.

One of the main motivations behind burgeoning educational technological advancements has been making the learning experience more personalized for students. Many recently implemented teaching innovations, such as online course content and virtual classrooms, use software that measures a student's absorption rate of material and is able to adjust to the lesson plan to meet his or her needs. The technology has the potential to completely alter the way students are educated. With so many teachers currently tasked with educating massive amounts of children in a largely uniform format, inevitably some will fall behind.

American students continue to struggle with illiteracy
Judging by reports, children in the United States are falling behind in even the most basic subjects. According to the National Center for Education Statistics' "2011 Nation's Report Card," only 34 percent of the American fourth graders tested received a reading comprehension score at or above proficient. Clearly, illiteracy is still an issue that the American education system is struggling to overcome. One software company, however, recently released a program to confront illiteracy when children are still developing the tools to process language.

Huffington Post contributor Andrew Cherwenka reported that Ooka Island, the brainchild of literacy advocate Joelle MacPhee, takes a unique approach to teaching children the building blocks of written language. Combining adaptive learning algorithms with time-tested reading education procedures, Ooka Island's process begins by teaching kids to associate the various sounds of the English language with each letter before moving on to forming words and sentences. With 562 built-in activities to engage and measure student progress, the program offers a comprehensive system for teaching children how to read.

Adaptive software to meet each student's needs
What separates Ooka Island from other pieces of reading software is its approach to progression. The software adapts its lesson plan to a student's success rate. If a child is making great strides, he or she will be more quickly guided through the program than a student who struggles to absorb the information. The creators of Ooka Island believe that one of the major issues with the modern classroom is the rapid overturn in educational subjects. While many children may understand a topic quickly and be ready to move on, others invariably will not. Especially in the early days of a student's education, failing to grasp material can greatly hinder his or her future development.

"Imagine a child learning to ride a bike," MacPhee told the news outlet. "She doesn't quite get it the first day, and the next day she's given a unicycle. Maybe she only needed another day of practice, but now she must keep moving on to a new skill and she's struggling to catch up."

Educational games can engage students more effectively
Educational video games have existed for years, but their benefits have not always been immediately evident. A report issued by Madrid's Complutense University, however, found that educational games played on a classroom computer can complement teaching traditional methods. One of the greatest difficulties teachers have is simply getting young students to focus long enough to engage material. With educational software, children can advance through the lesson plan out of sheer enjoyment of the game, perhaps not even fully realizing they are being taught anything.

Illiteracy is, without question, one of the greatest issues facing the American education system. Such a fundamental aspect of any child's development deserves the utmost attention, by both teachers and parents. New measures to tackle illiteracy are always welcome. [read too much like a PR for Ooka Island, so i removed some of the mentions]

Is the current American education model doing enough to take on illiteracy? What should teachers be doing differently to increase reading comprehension levels? Tell us what you think in the comment section below!

Heman Mehta

Heman, aka: He-Man, is the "Master of Deep Freeze" and Director of Product Managment. He has been with Faronics for more than 10 years and is (of course) the biggest evangelist of Deep Freeze. When not living the "PM Lifestyle", you'll find him traveling the world—his last count was at about 35 countries visited.