Tapping On Technology In Special Needs Learning


Trials for the second phase of the research have yielded promising results among children in mainstream schools

Building on the recent developments in touch-screen technology, researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed interactive multi-touch tabletop applications that facilitate learning for children with learning difficulties.

With funding of $500,000 by the Singapore Millennium Foundation, this three-year project aims to enhance the teaching of collaborative play among students with special needs using the multi-touch tabletop. Through the development of game-based activities that require students to work together in order to complete the tasks, the team aims to facilitate the development of social skills among the students, who find it hard to interact with other individuals.

To test the effectiveness of these applications, the NTU research team partnered MINDS – Fernvale Gardens School, a Special Education School. The multi-touch tabletop applications were used in the junior, senior and special classes for several months and were positively received by the teachers and students. “Many of the special needs students took to the technology readily,” shares Associate Professor Goh Wooi Boon, who leads the research team. The students have responded so well to the multi-touch table that the teachers and occupational therapists have applied the use of the tool in other areas such as improving hand-eye coordination.

Given the positive feedback, the team has embarked on the second phase of the project which integrates the use of mobile phones on the multi-touch table, allowing for greater range of movement. This enables the design of activities that will further enhance collaborative play and introduces potential for therapy involving the whole hand or body motion coordination.