Archive for March, 2008

Using computers to teach

March 17, 2008

When I was a kid, we used to get sent to the library in groups to listen to a story playd on a tape (or more likely a record player). Then we were given a ditto sheet (ah… remember ditto sheets? That smell?) with questions to answer about the story we had just heard. And that, in a nutshell, was “education technology.”

There has been a major push in the last decade to wire schools and classrooms. Connect them to the Internet, load them up with donated computers, etc. But most of the content delivered in this way isn’t much more than what we got from the record player and the ditto sheet, only it’s slightly more interactive and delivered over the Internet or from a CD-ROM.

Fast ForWord is one product that is different because it’s not just using the computer do something faster or even more efficiently than it could be done without the computer. It’s using the computer to do something that’s not possible without the computer. From the delivery of modified speech stimuli to the thousands of precise, adaptive trials, Fast ForWord isn’t just using a computer to deliver content more efficiently than a teacher; it’s delivering brain-changing exercises that a human being flat out can’t deliver. No that, to me, is real education technology.

And as a bonus, by increasing students’ memory and attention skills, Fast ForWord actually sets kids up to better absorb the content delivered by great teachers.

Scientifically-based research

March 2, 2008

The Fast ForWord programs have undergone numerous research studies to establish and validate the impressive improvements that students make after training with the programs. From the initial university-based foundational research, to field trials conducted by Scientific Learning; from subsequent peer-reviewed studies of efficacy, to formal assessments conducted by school districts around the country, there is probably no more thoroughly researched educational product on the market.

Scientific Learning makes a lot of the research available on their Web site, including studies of just about every population of students, from Title 1 to General Education. Two studies that really hit home for us, because they really go to the core of what we’re doing here at Be Amazing, looked at the impact of Fast ForWord training on Gifted and Talented (GATE) students. 

The studies were conducted by school districts in North Carolina and Tennessee. In one study, “students classified as ‘gifted’ showed significant gains in decoding and reading skills” after training with Fast ForWord. In the other, “high performing sixth graders increased overall scores and significantly exceeded expectations on state assessment tests.”

In the North Carolina study, on two subtests of decoding skills (sound blending and word attack), the students moved from near the top of the average range into the above average range (one standard deviation above the norm) after Fast ForWord training.

The details of these and other scientific studies of Fast ForWord’s efficacy are available in the Results section of Scientific Learning’s Web site. 

Be Amazing has extensive experience helping gifted and talented students reach their full potential with Fast ForWord.

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