Using computers to teach

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.

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