i-Tiles For Teaching Special Needs Students

Scientists in Singapore have developed an interactive education system to help students with special needs learn better.

AsianScientist (Apr. 8, 2019) – A research group in Singapore has developed an interactive educational tool called the i-Tile, which makes learning more engaging for children with special needs.

Developed at Nanyang Technology University (NTU), Singapore, by NTU Associate Professor Goh Wooi Boon, the i-Tile system consists of two tablet computers and a custom-designed card-reader (the i-Tile) that can detect objects, such as a picture or alphabet card, with radio-frequency identification. The teacher facilitates the lesson using one tablet computer, while the other tablet computer acts as a coordinated remote display and is connected to the classroom’s projection display.

For instance, the image of an apple would appear on the screen and the student will have to select the corresponding word card and tap it against the i-Tile. Light and sound signals would then indicate whether the student’s choice is correct.

Since 2018, the i-Tile learning activities were trialed at the MINDS Fernvale Gardens School, a school for children and youth with moderate to severe intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder in Singapore. Research findings from the trials suggested that the design of the i-Tile learning activities 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.

A variety of cards can be programmed by teachers, allowing them to conduct an inclusive lesson with a class of students with differing levels of competencies. While one student can perform visual matching using picture cards, another can learn to spell using the correct sequence of alphabet cards. The researchers observed that each student felt a sense of accomplishment at his or her respective level of ability.

“We set out to develop appropriate low-cost technology which would allow teachers to readily incorporate movement, play and collaboration into their lessons so as to engage students in their learning,” said Goh, who added that he will be working with teachers from special needs schools to scale up the lessons and train more teachers in the use of i-Tiles.


Source: Nanyang Technological University; Photo: Pixabay.
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