Posts Tagged ‘ technology ’

E-Readers May Help Dyslexic Children

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

E-reader devices may help children with the learning disability dyslexia learn to read.  The technology in an e-reader screen was found in a new study to make text more legible to children who otherwise would struggle to read.  One reason for the finding may be that lines of text are shorter in e-readers than in books.  Fox News has more on the study:

The study’s authors said they are excited about the potential for e-readers to supplement traditional methods of therapy for dyslexic students.

“The high school students we tested…had the benefit of many years of exceptional remediation, but even so, if they have visual attention deficits they will eventually hit a plateau, and traditional approaches can no longer help,” said study author Matthew H. Schneps, director of the Laboratory for Visual Learning at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and lead author of the research, in a news release. “Our research showed that the e-readers help these students reach beyond those limits.”

Dyslexia is characterized by an inability to concentrate on letters within words, or entire lines of text on a page, and it affects 10 percent of children in the U.S.

Image: Girl with e-reader, via Shutterstock
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Cool Product Alert: Double Fine Happy Action Theater

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Earlier this week, I promised some posts on new and exciting products I discovered at the Sandbox Summit at MIT.  It turns out, the one that grabbed my attention  most is actually more “exciting” than “new.”  It’s the Double Fine Happy Action Theater game for the Xbox 360 game console, and it was released in February of this year.

Click here to see a video trailer for the game, which allows multiple players to transform their living rooms into balloon clouds, fiery lava fields, or bubbly seascapes.  It’s not educational in any traditional sense of the word.  It’s just plain fun for the whole family.

At the Sandbox Summit, Microsoft’s educational design director, Alex Games (pronounced GAH-mes), presented the trailer as an example of what can happen when learning is approached through the lens of play. The game is an example of how parents can “co-view” a piece of technology with their children, interacting on every level, and developing skills from physical fitness to quick decision-making.

According to Games, the co-viewing aspect, combined with the fact that the game takes place in a family’s living room, as opposed to in an invented, remote video game world, make it just the type of thing families should look for when choosing how to spend their leisure time…if they want to spend more than just a few minutes together as a family.

“We’ve moved toward really fast-paced, bite sized experiences, very similar to what is happening in social media,” Games said. But when it comes to learning, “there are certain things that it takes time and patience to develop.”

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Special Report: PNN at the Sandbox Summit

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Over the next few days, you’ll notice some different types of posts here at PNN.  Your intrepid blogger will be attending the Sandbox Summit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to hear what psychologists, educators, and entrepreneurs have to say about this question:  What is the relationship between technology and play?

The Summit’s website describes its mission: “Play is how kids learn. Technology is an enticement.  By creating a forum for conversation around play and technology, Sandbox Summit strives to ensure that the next generation of players becomes active innovators, rather than passive users, of technology.”

Stay tuned for what I anticipate will be fascinating insights, research, and ideas from the experts at the Summit, as well as some tidbits and sneak peaks of the newest, coolest techno toys around.

Ready to play?  I sure am!

Image: Play button, via Shutterstock.

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Online Tool Promises to Streamline Autism Diagnosis Process

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

An online tool created by researchers at Harvard Medical School claims it can make the process by which young children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders far more efficient by having parents use an online tool to see if their child needs early interventions like speech, physical, and occupational therapies.  HealthDay News reports:

The process relies on seven questions plus a short home video of an individual child.

The research team said its method could reduce by nearly 95 percent the time it takes to diagnose autism and could be easily included in routine child screening practices, greatly increasing the number of at-risk children who get checked for the disorder.

“We believe this approach will make it possible for more children to be accurately diagnosed during the early critical period when behavioral therapies are most effective,” Dennis Wall, an associate professor of pathology and director of computational biology initiative at the Center for Biomedical Informatics, said in a medical school news release.

The survey is currently available online, as researchers continue to gather data on its effectiveness.   The current version of the survey is for parents of children who already have an ASD diagnosis.  Though the online tool is intended to streamline the diagnostic process so parents and clinicians alike can save time and start therapies earlier, parents should always discuss developmental concerns with their child’s pediatrician.

Image: Computer mouse, via Shutterstock.

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New Technology Allows Parents to Bond with Preemies in NICU

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

New password-protected webcams are coming online at hospitals across the country, with the goal of allowing parents to keep a constant, loving eye on their NICU-bound premature babies. reports on how the new technology is helping families bond during a time that’s marked by stress, worry, and sometimes limited NICU visiting policies:

St. Jude Medical Center [in Fullerton, California] is one of the first hospitals in the country to implement a webcam system called NICVIEW, which gives parents a virtual window to their newborns. Most of the babies in St. Jude’s neonatal intensive care unit, which has 14 incubators, are born prematurely and are released within four or five days. Some, however, stay for months.

The password-protected webcam system is also being used at a handful of hospitals across the country, including UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Deaconess Women’s Hospital in Newburgh, Indiana. Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center in Riverside, California, expects to introduce the system in the next few weeks.

Numerous other facilities are exploring the idea or looking for funding. Cameras run about $1,000 each in addition to an annual service fee that covers technical support and other costs.

Those who have used the system said it is well worth the investment.

“The family feels that they are really connected to their infant, which is important for bonding. In the past, the bonding process had to be instituted every few days,” said Dr. David Hicks, medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Jude Medical Center. “The family dynamics are improved.”

Image:  Camera, via Shutterstock.

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