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					                                                                                                                       Clare J. Hooper -
                                                                                                               Supervisor: Mark Weal,
                                                                                  School of Electronics and Computer Science - University of Southampton, UK

                              Pervasive Tools to Help Dyslexic Students

       The Problem                             Learning and VLEs                                                A Solution,
4 - 10% of the population are affected by
some form of dyslexia, impacting on             Forms of learning include:                                    and the Future
everyday and academic life.                     • Constructivist (learners construct            The suggested system integrates with VLEs,
                                                new ideas)                                      smartphones and PDAs, presenting students with
Dyslexia is a pattern of difficulties, such     • Situated (learning in an authentic
as learning to read, write and spell.                                                           timely, relevant information on a wide range of
                                                context and culture)                            devices. Data is wrapped as Learning Objects or
There are significant performance               • Collaborative (learning through
discrepancies between the area of                                                               Mobile Interactive Learning Objects, for appropriate
                                                social interaction)                             display on each device. The system supports
difficulty (e.g. literacy) and other skills.    Mobile devices support situated                 asynchronous text-based discussions (forums, wikis,
Much work considers interfaces, yet             learning (portable) and                         blogs). Students choose their own handheld device,
other effects (on memory, orientation           collaborative learning (social).                and organisations make VLE choices.
and organisation) are less addressed.           Tailored content encourages the
Examples include remembering which              desired type of learning.
books to take to university each day,
recalling which bus to get (from where,         Tools may aid living (e.g.
and when), which building and room a            eyeglasses and hand calculators) or
lecture is in, and when coursework is           learning (e.g. dictionaries to teach
due.                                            broader vocabulary) [1]. Learned
                                                helplessness, unnecessary
                                                dependence on a tool, is an issue to
                                                be considered.

                                                VLEs (Virtual Learning
                                                Environments) facilitate teaching
       Techniques and                           by managing and presenting
                                                material to student via web pages;
        Technologies                            the proportion of student input                   Future work goes beyond prototyping and testing
                                                                                                  the design. Research might investigate the
                                                varies. VLEs are often designed by
Videos, colour, stories, multiple choice        non-educationalists with a weak                   affordances, constraints and dyslexic usage of
questions, mind maps and cloze procedures       learning model [2], and so can often              handheld devices; the future impact of the
all help teaching. Learning techniques          be improved, for example with                     semantic web and grid technologies; how other
include 'box and underline', physical space,    simple interfaces and multimedia                  work, such as Memories for Life, might be used;
colour, and bullet points [5]. Text-to-         communication. Accessibility and                  and supporting other sets of users.
speech, talking spell checkers/thesauruses      navigation are strong issues.
and cut and paste are also used.

Smartphones and PDAs are ideal: they are
relatively cheap, and offer good
functionality. Input methods include voice,
keypad taps, Graffifi and scaled-down
QWERTY keyboards: keypad layouts differ
(see below [4]). Connectivity options                                                         1. Carmien, S., & Fischer, G., Tools for Living and
                                                                                                 Tools for Learning. In: Proceedings of the HCI
include infrared, WiFi and Bluetooth. The
suggested system supports a wide range of
                                                Communications                                   International Conference (HCII) Las Vegas (July
hardware, allowing individuals to choose         Types of CMC (Computer-
their own devices.                               Mediated Communications)                     2. Cooper B., Virtual learning environments: educational
                                                 include:                                         requirements versus educational provision – an age
                                                                                                  old problem, EdukaLibre project, Leeds,
                                                 •Synchronous, text-based (e.g
                                                 IM): not suitable. Dyslexic
                                                 students often require time to               3. Corlett, D., Sharples, M., Chan, T., Bull, S., A Mobile
The Mobile Learning Engine [4] is a              process and exchange                             Learning Organiser for University Students. In:
learning environment tailored to mobile          information.                                     Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Vol. 21
phones, using Mobile Interactive Learning                                                         Issue 3 (June 2005)
Objects. This system might use Java and          •Synchronous, non-text-based
XML, supporting a wide range of hardware.        (e.g. Skype): less formal, issues            4. Holzinger, A., Nischelwitzer, A., Meisenberger, M.,
                                                 recalling details (e.g. agreed                   Mobile Phones as a Challenge for m-Learning:
A student organiser system exists [3]: 17        meeting dates or deadlines).                     Examples for Mobile Interactive Learning Objects
students used it for one year. It provides                                                        (MILOs). In Proceedings of: Third IEEE
timetables, deadlines, course materials,         •Asynchronous non-text-based:                    International Conference on Pervasive Computing
email, IM, contacts and a visual mapping         rare in the learning context.                    and Communication (PerCom 05), Kauai Island (HI)
tool. It was well received, although issues                                                       (2005) 307-311
                                                 •Asynchronous text-based (e.g.
included low memory, size/weight, and            forums, wikis): better, encourage            5. Price, G., Creative solutions to making the technology
charging problems. Dyslexic issues were          deeper reflection, considered                    work: three case studies of dyslexic writers in higher
not considered.                                  arguments and use of references.                 education. ALT-J, Research in Learning Technology,
                                                                                                  Vol. 14 Issue 1 (March 2006) 21-38

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