WorldView Software for Readers with Dyslexia

There are a few design features of WorldView Software’s social studies programs that make them ideal for learners with dyslexia.  We’ll go over them shortly, but first, let’s define what we mean by dyslexia.

In her seminal 1996 article in Scientific American, Dr. Sally Shaywitz defined dyslexia as a problem with language processing, not visual impairment:

[it is] a deficiency in the processing of the distinctive linguistic units, called phonemes, that make up all spoken and written words…The phonological model is consistent both with the clinical symptoms of dyslexia and with what neuroscientists know about brain organization and function.

According to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, some signs a reader might have dyslexia are the following:

    • Read slowly and with much effort
    • Are often the one to solve the problem
    • Can’t spell; have messy handwriting
    • Your writing shows terrific imagination
    • Have trouble remembering dates and names
    • Think out-of-the box, grasp the big picture
    • Have difficulty retrieving and pronouncing spoken words
    • Have excellent vocabulary and ideas

WorldView’s programs have features that can assist dyslexic learners.  First, all of our programs are visible in the web browser of your choice, which means that the reader can adjust the size of the font.  Compare a “normal” size — meaning the size I normally use — pictured here:

to the size the text becomes when it’s enlarged to 125% using CTRL+ (hit the CTRL key at the same time as the + key):

Second, as you can see from the previous screenshots, WorldView programs use a sans serif font for body text which is thought to be easier for people with dyslexia to read.  Third, our programs also use a colored background with a gentle gradient, which assists readers in keeping place when reading on screen.

Fourth, dyslexic readers often find that taking notes and composing writing assignments is also easier on a word processor or computer.  WorldView programs make that easy with our in-program guided essays and short answer questions. 

Finally, we include sound files with our chapter overviews, which allow readers to listen to the text as they read the written copy.  Just look for the sound buttons at the beginning of the section:

If you or your students have dyslexia and have suggestions on other ways to improve the presentation, please let us know in the comments!


BulbgraphOnOffClicking on an image in the overview brings up a larger image plus caption and credit information.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Resource Highlight: The CORE Project e-textbook

The CORE Project e-textbook is an online textbook in Economics for college students created by economists from all over the world.  It’s a bit advanced to use as the sole text for high school students, but teachers should be able to use this resource in many different ways.

John Cassidy in The New Yorker writes:
The project is a collaborative effort that emerged after the world financial crisis of 2008–9, and the ensuing Great Recession, when many students (and teachers) complained that existing textbooks didn’t do a good job of explaining what was happening. In many countries, groups of students demanded an overhaul in how economics was taught, with less emphasis on free-market doctrines and more emphasis on real-world problems.

Of course, that criticism doesn’t apply to WorldView Software’s Economics — we’ve had the comprehensive Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis for years!

page explains CMOs, includes graphic
A page from the WorldView Software “Economics” Tutorial: Global Financial Crisis

Push for Competency-based Learning Gets Pushback

Here’s something to think about: there’s almost no evidence showing online or the classroom equivalent, competency-based learning, to be effective….Both [studies] came to the same conclusion: the tech behind competency-based learning has advanced, but the concept itself has not benefited from these technical improvements and the educational outcome for students remain unimpressive.

Informative post by Seattle Education explaining the terms “competency-based education,” “virtual learning,” and “blended learning,” “personalized instruction” — and where the research on their effectiveness and the corporate funding of these reform initiatives part company.

Note: WorldView Software makes web-based digital textbooks, not teacher “replacements.”  And our interactivity is focused on Socratic learning, not on training students to respond to A.I.

Source:
24 Graduation Credits, OSPI Superintendent Chris Reykdal, and the Push for Competency-Based Learning

Use Google to Tour the National Parks

To ease the transition back to school, you can pretend you’re still on vacation by using Google to “tour” the national parks through online exhibits.  These are artifacts from the parks that were curated in celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, showcasing one object from every national park museum collection.

For example, check out the collections from Colorado’s national parks, with everything from hiking safety helmets from the 1970s to a projectile point from ~6,000 B.C.E.  There are also short descriptions of why the object was chosen for the centennial.

You can use these objects to get your students back into “historian” mode: why were these objects chosen? Are there other objects that would have been more appropriate? Can they make a convincing case for the alternative?  And more: what was the object’s context when it was made? When it was used? When it was found? Now?

And technically, this is a different part of Google altogether, but you could wind up your mini-vacation with a virtual stroll on the beach: Fire Island National Seashore (which has an object in the NY collection), via Google Maps Street View:

 

 

 

 

Resource Highlight: Libraries+ Network

Had enough of “big data”?  Check out the consortium effort to rescue “small data” created by the U.S. federal government data at the site Libraries+ Network.

The Libraries+ Network is a nascent consortium of research libraries, library organizations, and open data communities with a shared interest in saving, preserving, and making accessible born-digital federal government information upon which researchers, citizens, and communities rely.

The effort is particularly focused on federal agencies who’ve had their funding cut (or are proposed to be eliminated altogether).  Their videos and blog are a terrific way to introduce students to the issues in data gathering, storing, and accessing.

So Much Tech, So Little Time

“For me, despite my love of cool new gadgets, I always try to start from a place of what do I want my students to learn and what do I want them able to do. If the cool-to-play-with Google Glass or Apple Watch or other gadget isn’t the most efficient way to answer those questions then I don’t bring it into the class. I can’t promise I won’t get one for myself though.”

— Source: Brave In The Attempt

[A teacher’s blog examining different learning models: SAMR, TPACK, and TIM and how they impact our use of tech in the classroom.  Plus a really beautiful “Graph of Tech Learning”!]

Resource Highlight: the IT History Society

The IT History Society http://www.ithistory.org/ is an international group of over 700 members working together to document, preserve, catalog, and research the history of Information Technology (IT). One of their most useful things for students and teachers on their site is an International Database of Historical and Archival Sites, where you can look up and research everything from pre-Apple history to ZZT-oop (an early in-game scripting programming language). The databases are listed alphabetically, and can be sorted by institution or country.