NTU develops new interactive technology to help children with special needs

The non-profit organization called Temasek Foundation supported NTU's research

Supported by Temasek Foundation, NTU develops interactive educational tools trialled at MINDS
Supported by Temasek Foundation, NTU develops interactive educational tools trialled at MINDS NTU website

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has announced that the researchers from the institution have developed an interactive educational tool called i-Tile. The technology was created to make the learning process more engaging for children with special needs.

Singapore based non-profit organisation called Temasek Foundation supported this project through its SMF Research Grant Programme.

In a news release, NTU stated that they worked closely with teachers from the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) Fernvale Gardens School, which is an institution for children and youth with moderate to severe intellectual disability and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to create the lessons based on i-Tile technology.

"Research findings from the trials suggest that the design of the i-Tile learning activities, which incorporate purposeful movement, game-like elements and responsive audio-visual feedback, are effective in increasing and sustaining student engagement. The i-Tile lessons were also observed to help students learn values such as the need to take turns and teamwork," the news release added.

It also stated that the system also allows the teachers to adapt and design new learning activities that would help those students to learn properly. Teachers are also keen on using technology to help the students remember their personal information, such as contact details and home address. It also helps those students to teach money and supermarket shopping skills.

NTU Associate Professor Goh Wooi Boon, who is the Associate Chair (Faculty) of the School of Computer Science and Engineering, started this project in 2015. He said that "We set out to develop appropriate low-cost technology, which the teachers can readily incorporate movement, play and collaboration into their lessons so that it engages the students in their learning."

Professor Leo Tan, Chairman of Temasek Foundation Innovates addressed the technology as a 'novel solution' which helps students to learn better as well as teach them about helpful lifelong skills. In addition, he also said that Temasek is pleased to support this research program that creates a better life for everyone in the country.

The deputy CEO of MINDS, Koh Gee May mentioned that the involved students have "gained huge strides not only in academic areas but also in other areas such as the ability to display great sportsmanship, and communication and interpersonal skills. Students have become more confident in reading and spelling as the programme provides immediate feedback once they complete the tasks.

"As the programme involves interactive, collaborative and competitive play, it encourages our students to engage with one another in its play, thus enabling the students to work together and at the same time, show respect and generosity to their fellow competitors.

"The beauty of it all is that the technology used is easy to learn and versatile so teachers can customise it to suit students' varying learning needs and achieve individual goals."

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Related topics : Education