EyeJustRead delivers digital innovation targeted at reading difficulties

Fifteen per cent of Danish students leave lower secondary school with very poor literacy skills. A recipient of the Danish Design Award 2017 aims to address that problem.

CASE: EyeJustRead is a digital eye tracking system that decodes the reader’s eye movements and maps out his or her specific reading difficulties in order to help teachers, parents and students plan the literacy effort. EyeJustRead received the Danish Design Award 2017 in the category Better Learning.

Fifteen per cent of Danish students leave lower secondary school with very poor literacy skills. This has been documented in PISA tests since 2009, and the sustained number of struggling readers suggests a lack of development in the Danish school system (Danish Ministry of Education). EyeJustRead developed a digital eye tracking system that provides detailed data on the student’s literacy. The system tracks the reader’s eye movements and collects data on their reading strategy and misreadings, for example when the reader fixates on specific words or letters in the text while reading aloud. Data on eye movements and fixations are represented as visual marks superimposed on the text. Data is stored and can be replayed by the teacher and student and can be used to evaluate the continuous development of the student’s literacy skills.

EyeJustRead offers a potential to reach the students who struggle the most with reading during the early years of primary school, using a method that offers an insight into the child’s reading patterns, challenges and development. The primary aim of the tool is to facilitate the dialogue between student and teacher, but it also gives parents an insight that can help them better support their child’s reading at home. A game element has been added to enhance the reader’s motivation for practising.

The Danish Design Award jury found that EyeJustRead is an ambitious project with the potential to help the 15 per cent of the Danish population who struggle with reading. This innovative digital solution offers is learning tool for children with literacy difficulties, and in a student-teacher dialogue it can lead to substantial improvements in the student’s academic performance.

EyeJustRead was tested and developed in close cooperation with literacy consultants and students. In 2016, Charlotte Reusch, a consultant at The National Centre for Reading, conducted a large-scale pilot test in cooperation with NOTA, Danish Library and Expertise Center for people with print disabilities. EyeJustRead was tested on two different groups of students with dyslexia at Dyslexia, a municipal resource centre in Gentofte Municipality, and Ordblindeinstituttet (the Dyslexia Institute) in Ballerup. The preliminary experiences with the solution show interesting results and observations. One of the key findings was that ‘the eye tracking provides a clear image of the extent to which the student focuses on the target text and whether the student is distracted by illustrations or other external noise.’ Data regarding the individual student’s difficulties can be used as a basis for evaluation talks between teacher and student and also offer the student a valuable source of self-insight and understanding. Another important value of the system is that it helps the parents better understand their children’s literacy problems, which helps them offer their children the right support.

EyeJustRead received a Danish Design Award in the ‘Better Learning’ category because it is an innovative educational IT tool that, in the jury’s words, is ambitious and has the capacity to set off a minor revolution for the almost 15 per cent pf the population who struggle with reading.

Since the solution received the Danish Design Award, much has happened. ‘In spring 2017, EyeJustRead was tested by three literacy consultancy teams in schools in Hvidovre Municipality. Based on a successful test, the municipality bought access to EyeJustRead and intends to implement the system in all the schools in the municipality. Further, the literacy competency centre in the City of Frederiksberg bought access to EyeJustRead, and we have a great dialogue with several other municipalities about tests and roll-outs. EyeJustRead has also engaged in important collaborations with leading scholars at the Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen Business School and the University of Copenhagen about the analysis of literacy data with a view to developing the system further,’ says Janus Aksø Madsen, CEO and co-founder of EyeJustRead.

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