Arithmetic and geometry will be studied through music, dance and painting: this is the new multi-sensory teaching method fostered by the European project weDraw, coordinated by IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia and originated from the research studies of Monica Gori’s group about the use of sensory channels in children.
The project was first in the H2020 ICT "Technologies for Learning and skills" call, out of 92 submitted proposals. It will last two years with a co-funding from the European Union of about 2.5 million euro, and it will deal with the development of technologies that will apply the new “personalized “teaching method in classroom and at home.
Project partners are: IIT- Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (as coordinator), InfoMusLab of University of Genoa (as co-coordinator of technology), De Agostini Editore (Italy), David Chiossone Institute (Italy), University College London (UK), Trinity College Dublin ( Ireland), Learn TPM Limited (UK), Vision Buisness Consultant (Greece), Ignition Factory (France). Technological development will be coordinated by Gualtiero Volpe of InfoMusLab group at the University of Genoa.
The project involves primary schools of Genoa (Italy) and it will be presented to interested teachers during 8 dedicated events, the first will be held at IIT in Genoa on February 22.
At school teachers usually consider the sight as the prevalent sensory channel to transmit mathematical concepts, leaving out hearing and touch, seen as marginal. Monica Gori’s group conducted psychophysical and developmental psychology studies which showed a different sensorial situation: starting from 6 years old children use senses in a disconnected way, choosing a preferred sensory channel to learn space and time, which does not correspond with vision in many cases. The weDraw project aims to introduce a new teaching method, based on multisensory technologies that exploit the "stronger sensory channel" in children.
Researchers will involve a group of students from some primary schools in Genoa (Italy) for about four months of experimentation; they will explore the sensory preferences of children through psychophysical tests. Arithmetic will be taught by introducing musical games, where the rhythm will help to understand numerical sequences, and the use of severe or acute notes will facilitate the concept of magnitude. Geometry will be learnt through body movements, which are naturally associated with the idea of space, so that children may draw or dance. After identifying students’ sensory preferences, these will be investigated to ensure an effective learning method, in terms of psychophysical and pedagogical results.
Besides these activities, researchers will develop software for the analysis of motor behavior and social interaction in children, and a gaming platform technology based on smartphone applications in order to bring the new teaching methods at school and at home.
The new method will also allow to address in an innovative way some learning difficulties related to disability, such as blindness, or other cognitive problems, such as dyslexia and attention-deficit disorder.