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A portal for children with learning difficulties

30.09.2008
Working together with researchers from all over Spain, investigators from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid’s School of Computing have developed a website especially designed for children with learning difficulties, as well as other users related to this collective, like teachers, parents, families and researchers.

The website is known as Proyecto Aprender (Learn Project) and is part of the Internet en el Aula (Internet in the Classroom) project set up by the Ministry of Education and Science jointly with regional governments. The National Educational Information and Communication Centre, CNICE, created the portal, and research groups from almost all Spain’s regions participated in its configuration. One of the groups participating on behalf of the Madrid region is the School of Computing. This group’s key input was to develop the tools required to create easily accessible content.

The main goal of this site is to improve and develop the physical, affective, cognitive and communicative capabilities of children with special educational needs, promoting as far as possible personal autonomy and social integration through the use of new Information and Communication Technologies.

This site offers teachers support for classroom activities and for monitoring their pupils’ progress. It offers parents, families and researchers additional information about a child’s disorder, as well as guidance on what action to take. The portal offers pupils, the tool’s primary targets, an easy way to learn to navigate, including presentations that are accessible for people with different disorders. Additionally, the resource is a constant learning support for pupils, assuring that they end up navigating autonomously after first having been given a tour around the portal by an adult. The portal also includes advanced assessment techniques.

Four Worlds

The resource is divided into four worlds: Learning to Be (designed to boost personal skills), Learning to Live Together (designed to promote interpersonal skills), Learning to Do (designed to encourage practical skills) and Learning to Know (designed to develop cognitive skills).

These worlds are each further divided into four modules called scenarios. The scenarios are useful for working on the activities designed around focuses and contents. Each scenario is again split into learning objects making up the elementary teaching unit.

The resource is complete with a multimedia application providing access to a range of multimedia activities organized by learning objects: skills, difficulty level and real-life situations.

Flash Update

Although the Proyecto Aprender has been available on the Internet for some time now, the team of researchers led by Ángel Lucas González Martínez and composed of final-year students Javier Cuesta, Alvaro Faraco and Belén Ríos from the CETTICO research group, are extending the libraries and creating new activities.

One of the novelties that they are in the process of adding is a module to improve the integration with SCORM-based e-learning systems. The idea is to provide contents developers with an easy way to create flash content. These new options will be available in summer 2009.

Children with special educational needs are children with psychic, motor or sensory disorders. The portal is also useful for the immigrant child population and highly gifted children. The characteristics of these collectives have led to an innovative software development effort.

Eduardo Martínez | alfa
Further information:
http://www.fi.upm.es/?pagina=743&idioma=english

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