The Underlying Principles of Our Dybuster Software
The Dybuster learning support programs Calcularis (math) and Orthograph (spelling) tackle difficulties in different areas, but are based on the same underlying principles. The first of these is the use of computers to adapt to the needs of individual learners and present learning content in various ways. This promotes processing and automation within the brain. The second is to enable children to train independently on a regular basis with short training sessions, the results of which can then be monitored by a supervising adult (teacher/therapist/parent or guardian) using the Coach analysis tool.
The shared underlying principles of the two programs are explained here.
Neuropsychology and IT
The development of our computer-based learning programs was based on several years of intensive research by computer scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETZ Zurich) and the department of neuropsychology at the University of Zurich. They work on the basic principle that, in cases of dyslexia and dyscalculia, pathways within the brain are inadequately automated due to the insufficient maturity of particular brain regions; based on this premise, they combined cutting-edge scientific findings to come up with a solution. Our multi-sensory learning programs support brain maturation by enabling users to strengthen these pathways via different sensory channels. Colors, shapes, and sounds are incorporated into the training to activate underdeveloped areas of the brain and compensate for weaknesses in learning. This activation of multiple senses – also referred to as “multi-sensory learning” – promotes efficient memorization of new information in the brain.
In Orthograph, words are not just represented in black and white but in a clearly identifiable sequence of colors, shapes, and sounds. What’s more, the syllables of each word are represented three-dimensionally, which helps to improve learners’ spatial perception. This multi-sensory approach to learning enables the brain to combine information from different channels and link this information together to facilitate broader learning success. In other words: Orthograph uses multi-sensory learning to link spoken and written language in the brain. The computer graphics and visual effects help to disguise mathematical elements and scientific components, all of which is based on studies in the fields of neuropsychology, information theory, artificial intelligence, and psychophysics. The game technology appeals directly to the learners and motivates them to complete the tasks.
Automatic progress analysis
Exercises are completed on the computer. As soon as a user is registered, they can begin to train anywhere at anytime – at home, at school, or during a therapy session. Learning progress is stored as the user progresses and can be viewed at any time. Meanwhile, the computer conducts an ongoing analysis of learning behavior and errors while simultaneously compiling an individually tailored learning schedule. In addition to the predefined learning modules, it is also possible to create custom training courses, e.g. with words from vocabulary tests or foreign languages. The training can be expanded and supplemented as desired.
Developing the brain
When we learn math, we engage various regions of the brain, each of which is developed in different ways. The problems that can occur during this process are wide-ranging and can differ greatly from child to child. Since the daily battle with learning how to add, subtract, or multiply is never the same for any two children, it calls for a highly innovative solution. Additionally, the linking and interaction of these different regions of the brain is just as important as their gradual development and should be automated and triggered differently depending on the task at hand. Problems in one area can hinder development in another area and therefore the interaction between these different areas. Calcularis trains individual areas of the brain using specific types of games and simultaneously activates as many areas of the brain as possible by representing numbers as quantities, number words, Arabic numerals, or on a number line. It supports the learning process by systematically appealing to different sensory responses such as color and shape.
Training skills and related sub-skills
Calcularis contains internal, branched networks of clearly defined, hierarchically linked sub-skills. It contains a range of training tasks for each of these skills and covers a range of degrees of difficulty. Once a particular skill has been mastered, the program delivers games to train related sub-skills. Within this process, an important element of the training is the repetition of tasks in different contexts, since this not only consolidates the knowledge learned, but also enhances the user’s mental flexibility. The enjoyment they gain from mastering new skills helps motivate them to continue tackling their learning weaknesses.
Tailored to users
In order for support to be targeted and effective, it must take into account the current cognitive development level of each child and proceed from there in a step-by-step fashion. Our learning software continually analyzes a child’s current skill level and level of progress, creating a basis for a tailored delivery of learning content. Both Calcularis and Orthograph adapt to the skills and speed of the individual learner and support them in exactly the areas where they struggle the most. Customized training sessions help them overcome their learning weaknesses in a game-based fashion. The learning software doesn’t merely address symptoms, but tackles learning difficulties at the root.
The tailored delivery of training content is based on the learner’s individual strengths and weaknesses. All learners begin their training with tasks on the number range 0-10. Those who have already mastered the skills required for this range will progress through this section of the training quickly. If a user continues to experience difficulties in this area, Calcularis will deliver a tailored selection of games to train the sub-skills for which the user displays a need for improvement. This consolidates a user’s ability to work within a particular number range and ensures that their knowledge is solidified. As training progresses, Calcularis constantly analyzes the user’s current level of knowledge and progress, selects upcoming exercises, and dynamically delivers the training content that will have the greatest effectiveness and long-term impact for that particular user. After mastering the range 0-10, learners are guided through the numbers ranges 0-20, 0-100, and 0-1000. By doing this, they acquire the skills they need at their own speed according to their individual level of development.
Individually tailored learning
Children work independently at the computer. The software is powered by a complex mathematical model that continually analyses the user’s learning behavior and calculates which word should be introduced or repeated next in order to facilitate maximum learning. Errors are transposed into new training words, helping users make improvements in their personal areas of difficulty. Orthograph is built on the principle of immediate feedback. If an incorrect letter is entered, an error sound will play and the mistake will be highlighted on the screen, enabling the student to make corrections in real time and avoid internalizing an incorrect spelling of a word. Children overcome their difficulties in a playful yet effective way.
Our learning programs consolidate and supplement students’ grasp of basic literacy and numeracy skills and are easy to integrate into day-to-day school schedules. All students are given their own username and password. Online training enables students to complete training sessions in school or at home. As a member of staff, you have access to the Coach analysis tool, with which you can monitor, evaluate, and analyze the training, adapting it for individual students as needed. By enabling learners to be fully supported within a normal classroom, our learning programs remove much of the burden from educational staff, special education workers, and therapists. The ability to easily combine home and school use of the programs aids specialist staff in overseeing the learning process. All children train independently, yet in a guided and monitored fashion. Students perceive the training as a motivational game and can seamlessly continue their work at home. The entire learning path is stored and can be monitored by an assigned teacher or guardian at any time. At the same time, the learning content can be adapted and personalized. Numerous functions are available to educational staff using the school versions of Orthograph and Calcularis to enable them to carry out detailed analyses, preparation work, and user-specific software extensions: class overviews, study time monitoring, learning reports, certificates, new module creation, creation of learning plans, detailed error analyses, delivery of learning reports via email, and more.
Our learning programs are ideally suited for parents seeking high-quality support for their children on their journey to learn spelling or math. The time commitment required from parents is minimal because the learning software is self-explanatory and guides the child through the process in a goal-oriented fashion. Mistakes are analyzed on an ongoing basis and content is adapted accordingly while tailored learning sessions train the areas in which the child has a need for improvement. User-friendly monitoring and analysis functions provide insights into material learned. Our learning software is not intended to replace expert guidance in the classroom; rather, it is designed to supplement and support it by enabling the stress-free acquisition of basic mathematical, spelling, and foreign language skills. Dyslexia and dyscalculia are “unlearned” and the affected child is able to rediscover their enjoyment in day-to-day school life.
Learning controls for parents and specialists
Teachers, parents, and specialists can log in to the monitoring program Coach, which allows them to see how intensively a child has trained (particularly important for parents) and to see detailed analyses of errors and the learning path (particularly important for teachers and educational specialists). They can compare students with their peers, print out automatically generated learning reports, design their own learning content, and make learner-specific adjustments to the program settings.
Automatic learning analysis
At the beginning of their training, all users start with the simplest game available, which works with the number range 0 – 10. With each answer, Calcularis recalculates the user’s level of knowledge and chooses the next game accordingly, thereby facilitating the greatest possible level of progress. In doing this, it adapts automatically to the skills and weaknesses of each user. When all the skills for a particular number range have been mastered, Calcularis switches to the next-largest number range. Thanks to this adaptive feature, users are able to acquire knowledge at their own pace. At the same time, Calcularis ensures that all necessary skills are systematically developed and trained.
Twenty different game varieties train the child’s understanding of numbers and their ability to switch between spoken, numeric and spatial representation of numbers. The task of distinguishing between numbers is supported by colors, shapes, and structures, while numbers in the decimal system are represented using the colors green (1 decimal point), blue (2 decimal points), and red (3 decimal points). These sensory aspects are reinforced by computer animations and make it easier for children to translate between different ways of representing numbers. Incorrectly solved tasks are solved to give an example, visually representing the steps to the solution.
Automatic learning analysis
Three different games guide learners through the training while a rewards system keeps users motivated. The training begins with frequently used, low-difficulty words and moves on to less common, more difficult words as the user works their way through the modules. The complex mathematical model behind the software analyzes the child’s learning behavior to continually determine the optimal word to be delivered at any given time. Errors are transposed into new training words, helping users make improvements in their personal areas of difficulty. If, for example, a learner frequently mixes up the letter pairs “b/d” or “p/q”, the computer will deliver extra words containing these difficult letters. Learned words are automatically repeated to ensure the knowledge is internalized. If a child continues to make frequent errors, the word is reincorporated into the training routine. On the other hand, if a child continues to spell the word correctly after several repetitions, it is considered to have been mastered and is no longer shown as part of the training. This thorough, in-depth training algorithm guarantees maximum learning success each individual user.
With each click or keystroke, Dybuster Orthograph gives immediate visual and auditory feedback about whether or not the word was spelled correctly. If, for example, a user mixes up “p” and “q”, Orthograph will immediately display a flashing asterisk to indicate that the blue “p” is not the same as the yellow “q”. If a user types the prefix “dis-” incorrectly, a yellow cylinder will appear. This immediate feedback not only allows users to improve without adult supervision, but also promotes the formation of strong mental associations (e.g. of colors with letters). We know from neuropsychological research that feedback is most helpful for the brain when it is delivered within 100 milliseconds (0.1 seconds) of an error. After this, the attention of the brain is already focused on the next task – in this case, on writing the next letter.
After each session, children can place a colorful sticker in their sticker booklet. Once they have completed a module, they receive a corresponding medal. This visual representation of progress provides motivation and increases self-confidence. Children see how much of the training they have completed and what they have achieved.
The sticker sheet and booklet will be sent to you automatically when you order Calcularis Home or Orthograph Home. They can also be ordered directly from us and are available as downloadable print templates on the Documents page.
Thanks to the software’s ability to adapt to individual users, every pupil relearns the learning process from the ground up, receiving learning content tailored to their skills, learning behavior, and personal areas of difficulty.
However, the software is most effective when its use is supervised by specialists. Ideally, learners complete 2-4 independent training sessions at home or school each week while teachers or parents review, evaluate, or adjust the learning path every few days or weeks as needed. These reviews can take place at short, regular intervals or in the form of a 5-minute round-up once per month, depending on how intensively you wish to support and monitor the child’s progress.
I can succeed - if I want to
The more enthusiastic and motivated we are, the easier it is to succeed in learning – yet it’s precisely when we’re not very good at something that we quickly lose motivation because of overload, frustration or, stress. In such cases, receiving external praise, rewards or motivational words are greatly encouraging; however, these motivational boosts are temporary and not always effective. Only when we activate our inner system of motivation and learn what drives us to achieve our goal can we remain focused on a task and learn successfully.
For this reason, there are several carefully selected motivational aspects built into our Dybuster learning games:
Short training sessions
Training sessions are limited to 20 minutes at a time. This makes the training session more manageable and motivates learners because they feel closer to their goal and to completing their session.
Tailored content delivery
Our learning programs adapt content to individual learners to ensure that they do not feel overwhelmed or under-stimulated. This helps learners to engage with tasks successfully and improve their perception of their own abilities. Learning content is compiled in such a way that new and progressively more difficult problems begin to appear as new skills are mastered.
Confidence of future success
Thanks to a number of scientific studies, we are confident that you will see an improvement of over 35% after just three short months of training, guaranteeing better grades at school. Learners are motivated by the knowledge that their effort will be rewarded. As soon as they notice the first improvements in their school performance, training becomes even more fun.
Clear, comprehensive learning reports
Learned content is visualized in the form of a mountain scene, giving learners a chance to reflect on and take pride in what they’ve learned. Detailed analyses of the learning path and current skill level are available to the supervising member of staff at any time, aiding objective assessment. Each keystroke, problem solved, and letter entered is recorded here – a precise documentation of all activity.
Learners can select a computer-animated companion to support their training by appearing on the screen from time to time to share tips, offer motivation, or provide assistance. This social component makes it easier for children to train on their own.
Variety in learning
Fun and enjoyment play a central role in learning. A diverse range of attractively presented games provide variety and counter boredom.
Learning weaknesses make children unsure of themselves and reduce their independence, which is why our programs are designed to allow them to train without help. The computer provides “invisible” guidance, increasing children’s independence, self-sufficiency and feeling of self-worth – all of which encourages them to carry on learning.
If a task is solved correctly, the computer responds with music or motivational remarks. These are not played every time, but recur on an occasional basis. The computer is never impatient or annoyed, but motivates the child and reinforces positive, successful learning behavior.
Solved tasks result in points, stars or coins, which can be traded for animals, backdrops, food etc. as part of an animal scene reward system. Learning reports and certificates can be printed out at any time to celebrate children’s work. Stickers and pre-printed sticker booklets are also available and can be used to help children visualize work accomplished, modules completed or skills mastered.