Active Study Blog Post 3

The past few months since the last blog post has been an incredible journey. Last semester I met with Beth Rosenberg, founder of the autism organization TKU, and discussed becoming a part of her team to help assist local children living with these disabilities. She stated how by working with these children, I will be able to solidify the problem I am trying to solve in reality, opposed to just making assumptions from other people’s experiences. In the weeks I have spent alongside others living with autism, I have found a place for my application, but have come up with numerous additions and changes that would make my app so much more useful to these children. I was able to figure this all out all while helping out my community, and the people I first set out to help.

The first place I began my journey was with TKU themselves, working at their Sunday workshops. At these workshops, I worked with children from a variety of age groups learn how to use Photoshop, develop AR/VR applications, and develop skills that they will be able to put on their resume, and use to become marketable in the workplace. In this process, I was able to observe the learning styles of these children, and see how the traits that effect their learning ability grow and develop as they age.

Additionally through TKU, I was introduced to someone who wanted to learn more about game/app development, and so I began tutoring him four hours a week, mostly on the Unreal Engine (what I am using for this project). This gave me great experience preparing lesson plans, adapting lessons to the student’s progress, as well as giving me even more insight on how these people learn, in a more one-on-one setting. This project has evolved into something much different than originally intended, but I couldn’t be more proud and grateful for the opportunities it has given me to help the people I had first set out to help in the first place.

Active Study- Second Blog Post

Since the last update, along with continued development with the app, I have begun outreach to organizations in my field of research, and have begun working with them to gain more knowledge on the learning styles of these children, and how I can fine tune my application to more appropriately fit their needs. By talking with professionals who work alongside these children, I can gain more insight on how these children learn, from those who do so for a living.
Tech Kids Unlimited is an organization based out of NYC that provides workshops throughout the year for children that have learning disabilities and/or are on the autism spectrum. Recently, I have begun meeting with their founder, Beth Rosenberg, who has provided valuable feedback on the application, as well as given me an outlet to observe their students during their workshops. In the time I have spent in these workshops, I have already learned a great deal, and cannot wait to become more involved, which will not only allow me the ability to continue my research, but in conjunction, play my part in volunteering and assisting these children in any way I can. I believe given the ability to volunteer while I am researching is a great opportunity, and will allow me to make sure all time spent on this project is spend helping out this community; I started this project to play a part in improving these children’s lives, and this has showed me that even just being there to help them from time to time is immensely valuable to their growth.
In the coming months, I am planning to continue my work with TKU, In hopes to obtain a better personal understanding of these student’s learning styles. By understanding this, i will be able to better fine tune and expand my application in the future. I will also be submitting my app into the Spark for Autism Contest run by Seidenberg at the end of January, at which point I will have a completed prototype. From there, I will continue improving and updating the app, using knowledge I have learned while being with the children, as well as any feedback I receive from professionals. I will continue to reach out to anyone who might be able to provide me with insight, in hopes to have my application viewed by as many as possible, and get a variety of different opinions on future improvements. I am working hard to keep my scope manageable and realistic, and set deadlines and goals to keep me focused on production.

Active Study- First Blog Post

Active Study, the mobile app we are developing as part of our research, will be an immersive experience to help assist children with learning disabilities as well as autism comprehend information they cannot typically digest in a typical classroom setting. With this application, we have the ability to start a new wave of how technology is used in the classroom, as well as change how special needs children are treated in schools.

According to the CDC, “About half of preschoolers with ADHD were taking medication for ADHD, and about 1 in 4 were treated only with medication”.  Additionally, they are often provided with extra one on one assistance in the classroom, and sometimes put in a smaller class. While all of these work, this research will show that there are other methods than prescription drugs to obtaining a child’s attention. It is not is that the child cannot pay attention at all, it is just that the information is not provided in a digestible way to them. Essentially, the child is not interested in the topic, so they lose focus, and do not digest the information. However, by following successful teaching methods for students with ADHD we can use VR to present data in a way that is easier to remember for the subject. This is accomplished by creating a learning environment in a fun, exciting setting.

 

Active Study, the mobile app we are developing as part of our research, will be an immersive experience to help assist children with learning disabilities as well as autism comprehend information they cannot typically digest in a typical classroom setting. With this application, we have the ability to start a new wave of how technology is used in the classroom, as well as change how special needs children are treated in schools.

Some Goals and Objectives we have include:
-Produce a beta application demoing a variety of gameplay concepts with different school subjects taught in today’s schools
-Produce said beta application using affordable hardware, keeping cost down for Schools looking to adopt
-Provide the app to select special needs classes for feedback, which will be used to tweak and optimize the application
-Talk with educators to fine tune the information to select what material they would like to see incorporated into the application.

According to the CDC, “About half of preschoolers with ADHD were taking medication for ADHD, and about 1 in 4 were treated only with medication”.  Additionally, they are often provided with extra one on one assistance in the classroom, and sometimes put in a smaller class. While all of these work, this research will show that there are other methods than prescription drugs to obtaining a child’s attention. It is not is that the child cannot pay attention at all, it is just that the information is not provided in a digestible way to them. Essentially, the child is not interested in the topic, so they lose focus, and do not digest the information. However, by following successful teaching methods for students with ADHD we can use VR to present data in a way that is easier to remember for the subject. This is accomplished by creating a learning environment in a fun, exciting setting.

Some research questions we will answer include:

-How can the new wave of technology be incorporated in the current generation’s education?
-What methods can combine immersion and education to allow information to
stick in a child’s brain more significantly than the typical textbook and classroom lectures?
-How can a tool such as this be optimized to work on accessible, cost-efficient hardware?

We will answer these questions by first exploring how information is processed by the brains of today’s youth, more specifically those with learning disabilities. Once our own research is completed and our beta application is finished, we will build relationships with educators, and not only listen, but act on their feedback in tweaking and modifying the application to be as efficient as possible. By working directly with these educators, we will get instant feedback from live testing, and be able to make sure the application works as efficiently at helping teach the child as possible. During this whole process, we will constantly be monitoring our hardware restrictions, and make sure that we are staying in those boundaries.